Officials in South Africa Propose VAT-Exemption for Bitcoin Trades

Cryptocurrencies are becoming more prevalent to residents living in South Africa and over the past year bitcoin interest stemming from the region has grown exponentially. Furthermore, just recently the South African Treasury has proposed a few amendments that apply to the country’s Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB) and how cryptocurrencies are taxed. According to regional reports, if the proposals are accepted, bitcoin trades could be exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in South Africa.

South African Treasury Proposals Could Make Bitcoin Trades Exempt from Value-Added Tax Laws

Interest in bitcoin and other digital assets within South Africa has been rising steadily over the past few years. Back in April, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) revealed its latest guidelines towards cryptocurrency taxation and explained that taxpayers must declare profits and losses if the funds stem from digital asset transactions. SARS details that taxpayers who are uncertain about their tax filings involving cryptocurrencies may reach out to the tax entity for guidance.

“The onus is on taxpayers to declare all cryptocurrency-related taxable income in the tax year. Failure to do so could result in interest and penalties,” said SARS on April 6, 2018.

Now the members of the South African Treasury have proposed new guidelines that could make trading bitcoin and other virtual currencies exempt from VAT. Regional reports detail that the proposals aim to change the definition that digital assets are deemed taxable financial instruments, the clarity within the country’s VAT Act, as well as loss provisions of the Income Tax Act. A senior tax consultant from Mazars, Tertius Troost, explains to regional publications that the proposals will make things much clearer for individual cryptocurrency tax filings and how they apply to the VAT Act.

Treasury Department for the Republic of South Africa

“The clarification of the VAT treatment will be well received, especially on the basis that the issue, acquisition, collection, buying or selling or transfer of ownership of any cryptocurrency will be included under the definition of financial services in terms of section 2 of the VAT Act,” Troost said in an interview.

If accepted, all dealings in cryptocurrencies will be exempt from VAT. This means there will be no VAT input claims on the acquisition of cryptocurrencies, and no VAT output being levied on the disposal of cryptocurrencies.

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