Cryptocurrency and Taxation Challenges
Cryptocurrencies have been in the news recently because tax authorities believe they can be used to launder money and evade taxes. Even the Supreme Court appointed a Special Investigating Team on Black Money recommended that trading in such currency be discouraged. While China was reported to have banned some its largest Bitcoin trading operators, countries such as the USA and Canada have laws in place to restrict stock trade in cryptocurrency.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency, as the name suggests, uses encrypted codes to effect a transaction. These codes are recognized by other computers in the user community. Instead of using paper money, an online ledger is updated by ordinary bookkeeping entries. The buyer's account is debited and the seller's account is credited with such currency.
How are Transactions Made on Cryptocurrency?
When a transaction is initiated by one user, her computer sends out a public cipher or public key that interacts with the private cipher of the person receiving the currency. If the receiver accepts the transaction, the initiating computer attaches a piece of code onto a block of several such encrypted codes that is known to every user in the network. Special users called 'Miners' can attach the extra code to the publicly shared block by solving a cryptographic puzzle and earn more cryptocurrency in the process. Once a miner confirms a transaction, the record in the block cannot be changed or deleted.
BitCoin, for example, can be used on mobile devices as well to enact purchases. All you need do is let the receiver scan a QR code from an app on your smartphone or bring them face to face by utilizing Near Field Communication (NFC). Note that this is very similar to ordinary online wallets such as PayTM or MobiQuick.
Die-hard users swear by BitCoin for its decentralized nature, international acceptance, anonymity, permanence of transactions and data security. Unlike paper currency, no Central Bank controls inflationary pressures on cryptocurrency. Transaction ledgers are stored in a Peer-to-Peer network. That means every computer chips in its computing power and copies of databases are stored on every such node in the network. Banks, on the other hand, store transaction data in central repositories which are in the hands of private individuals hired by the firm.
How Can Cryptocurrency be used for Money Laundering?
The very fact that there is no control over cryptocurrency transactions by Central Banks or tax authorities means that transactions cannot always be tagged to a particular individual. This means that we don't know whether the transactor has obtained the store of value legally or not. The transactee's store is similarly suspect as nobody can tell what consideration was given for the currency received.
What does Indian Law Say about such Virtual Currencies?
Virtual Currencies or cryptocurrencies are commonly seen as pieces of software and hence classify as a good under the Sale of Goods Act, 1930.
Being a good, indirect taxes on their sale or purchase as well as GST on the services provided by Miners would be applicable to them.
There is still quite a bit of confusion about whether cryptocurrencies are valid as currency in India and the RBI, which has authority over clearing and payment systems and pre-paid negotiable instruments, has certainly not authorized buying and selling via this medium of exchange.
Any cryptocurrencies received by a resident in India would thus be governed by the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 as an import of goods into this country.
India has allowed the trading of BitCoins in Special Exchanges with built-in safeguards for tax evasion or money-laundering activities and enforcement of Know Your Customer norms. These exchanges include Zebpay, Unocoin and Coinsecure.
Those investing in BitCoins, for instance, are liable to be charged on dividends received.
Capital gains received due to sale of securities involving Virtual currencies are also liable to be taxed as income and consequent online filing of IT returns.
Should your investments in this currency be large, you are better off obtaining the assistance of a personalised tax service. Online platforms have eased the process of tax compliance by a long way.
While there have been market corrections in cryptocurrency market in 2018, everyone agrees that the best is yet to come. There have been a lot of activities in the market that have changed the tide for the better. With proper analysis and the right dose of optimism, anyone who is invested in the crypto market can make millions out of it. Cryptocurrency market is here to stay for the long term. Here in this article, we give you five positive factors that can spur further innovation and market value in cryptocurrencies.
1. Innovation in scaling
Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency in the market. It has the maximum number of users and the highest value. It dominates the entire value chain of the cryptocurrency system. However, it is not without issues. Its major bottleneck is that it can handle only six to seven transactions per seconds. In comparison, credit card transactions average at few thousands per second. Apparently, there is scope for improvement in the scaling of transactions. With the help of peer to peer transaction networks on top of the blockchain technology, it is possible to increase the transaction volume per second.
2. Legitimate ICOs
While there are cryptocoins with stable value in the market, newer coins are being created that are designed to serve a specific purpose. Coins like IOTA are intended to help the Internet Of Things market exchanging power currencies. Some coins address the issue of cybersecurity by giving encrypted digital vaults for storing the money.
New ICOs are coming up with innovative solutions that disrupt the existing market and bring in a new value in the transactions. They are also gathering authority in the market with their easy to use exchanges and reliable backend operations. They are innovating both on the technology side regarding usage of specialized hardware for mining and financial market side by giving more freedom and options to investors in the exchange.
3. Clarity on regulation
In the current scenario, most governments are studying the impact of cryptocurrencies on the society and how its benefits can be accrued to the community at large. We can expect that there may be reasonable conclusions as per the result of the studies.
Few governments are already taking the route of legalising and regulating crypto markets just like any other market https://www.mediasnet.net/. This will prevent ignorant retail investors from losing money and protect them from harm. Abling regulations that boost cryptocurrency growth are expected to appear in 2018. This will potentially pave the way for widespread adoption in future
4. Increase in application
There is enormous enthusiasm for the application of blockchain technology in virtually every industry. Some startups are coming up with innovative solutions such as digital wallets, debit cards for cryptocurrencies, etc. this will increase the number of merchants who are willing to transact in cryptocurrencies which in turn boost the number of users.
The reputation of crypto assets as a transaction medium will be reinforced as more people trust in this system. Although some startups may not survive, they will positively contribute to the overall health of the market creating competition and innovation.
5. Investment from financial institutions
Many international banks are watching the cryptocurrency scene. This can lead to the entry of institutional investors into the market. The inflow of substantial institutional investments will fuel the next phase of growth of the cryptomarkets. It has captured the fancy of many banks and financial institutions.
As the surprises and bottlenecks around cryptocurrencies reduce, there will be more uptake from traditional investors. This will lead to a lot of dynamism and liquidity much needed for any growing financial markets. Cryptocurrency will become the defacto currency for transactions all over the world.
Ultimate Practical Tax Lawyer Secrets to Tax Audit Survival
CRA Income Tax Audit - Toronto Tax Lawyer Introduction
As Toronto tax lawyers we deal with CRA audits and auditors on a daily basis. So what is a tax audit? This article will explain what you can expect to happen if you are audited for taxes.
The Canadian income tax system is based on self assessment. In other words it is up to every Canadian taxpayer to fully and properly report their total income from all sources on their annual T1 or T2 income tax return. The Canada Revenue Agency performs tax audits and issues income tax assessments to ensure that the self-assessment income tax system continues to work properly. While most Canadians are truthful on their tax returns, there are some who are not. CRA is looking for errors or disputable positions or deliberate misstatements on tax returns that have been filed.
What is a Tax Audit?
An income tax audit is an examination of a taxpayer's returns and supporting records to make sure that income and expenses have been properly reported and are supported by accounting records and receipts. The CRA tax auditor will ask to see the individual or corporate books and records and bank account and receipts for expenses. A corporation will normally have to provide its minute book to support any dividends or bonuses. There may be questionnaires to be filled out. Any information that is wrong, even if due to an error, will be used against the taxpayer.
Most audits are done to ensure compliance with the Income Tax Act for income or payroll deductions or under the Excise Tax Act for GST/HST.
Canadian Tax Audit Procedures
CRA auditors will often search for relevant information on the Internet, and a taxpayer's web site or other sources located on Google might contradict information the taxpayer provides to the auditor. This information will then be used for further enquiries possibly including 3rd party requests for information https://taxontario.ca. Furthermore open social media accounts are publicly accessible, and CRA auditors will gather this data from taxpayer social media accounts to build a case against a taxpayer. CRA officials have publicly discussed using taxpayer's social media accounts in this way. If taxpayer lifestyle and reported income don't match up the CRA tax auditor may decide to look into the taxpayer's situation to see what's actually going on.
CRA's practice on income tax audits is to do a GST (and HST) compliance review; if problems are found, the matter is normally forwarded to a GST/HST auditor for a full GST/HST audit. Similarly, an income tax compliance review is often done during GST/HST audits. Combined income tax and GST/HST audits were discontinued in July 2010. These compliance reviews are not always carried out and sometimes income tax audits may miss large GST/HST problems and vice versa.
CRA Audit Statistics
CRA issues an annual report to Parliament. The latest one was released in January 2016. The audit statistics from CRA Annual Report 2014-2015 provide less detailed information than for the previous year.
For small & medium enterprises no statistics were given. CRA reports that they reviewed 12,981 international and large business files and 9,440 aggressive tax planning files that resulted in identifying $1.4 billion in fiscal impact. For international and large business files CRA audited 6,540 income tax and GST/HST underground economy files and identified over $448 million in fiscal impact. In all cases there were fewer audits in 2014/15 that the previous year. Presumably this reflects the results of budget changes.
Reasons for Tax Audit
CRA may choose to audit a taxpayer for several reasons. Amongst them are:
Industry audit projects
Third party tips
Past history of non-compliance
Comparison of information on returns to information received from third-party sources - in other words are all T-slips reported
Since 2011 CRA has been auditing high net worth individuals and families, sending questionnaires asking for information about all companies, trusts, etc. that they control.
CRA has also been concentrating additional audit resources on the underground economy in an attempt to deter unreported cash sales.
What is the Tax Auditor Looking For?
The focus of the tax audit is to find errors in tax returns. Here are some examples of typical issues that may arise in a tax audit that would cause a taxpayer to receive a tax assessment at the end of the tax audit and that could result in penalties or a referral for a tax evasion investigation:
Over claimed Income Tax Credits
Under reported or unreported Earnings
Unreported cash sales
Unreported internet income
Unreported offshore income
Unreported offshore assets
Credits, such as for charitable donations, that are not supported by receipts
Personal expenses deducted for business
Shareholder loans not repaid within 2 corporate year ends
Right of CRA to Audit and CRA Audit Policies
Section 231.1 of the Income Tax Act gives CRA the statutory ability to carry out audits. In particular it entitles auditors to request and examine documents including computer records. Section 231.2 is a more formal provision whereby a "demand" or "requirement" is issued, but it need not be used by a tax auditor in the normal course where s.231.1 suffices.
The CRA can choose to audit anyone, but case law has held that such discretion does not permit a vexatious audit made for capricious reasons.
The Canada Revenue Agency has an internal policy in CRA Audit Manual §9.12.3 that audits should normally be limited to "one plus one" years that is to say the most recent year for which a return has been filed and assessed, plus one year back, with limited exceptions. This policy can be pointed out to a tax auditor to try to limit the scope of audit requests, but it has no legal effect and cannot be used in court to challenge a tax assessment that has been issued. Of course this rule of one plus one years does not apply in the case where CRA suspects unreported income. They will typically look at three years, and in some cases even more than 3 years.
In theory, the CRA has no discretion in applying the Act and must "follow it absolutely" by issuing a tax assessment for all otaxes wing. The reality is that in practice tax auditors have wide discretion not to assess an amount, however once it is correctly assessed; a Tax Appeals Officer or Tax Court judge will have no power to cancel it on grounds of equity, fairness or compassion.
Tax Audit Assistance from Toronto Tax Lawyer
Our top Toronto tax lawyers fight CRA tax auditors every day. A taxpayer has the right to professional representation at all times. This is specifically provided for in right 15 of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights which says "You can choose a person to represent you and to get advice about your tax and benefit affairs. Once you authorize us to deal with this person, we can discuss your situation with your representative." A taxpayer should never meet with a CRA auditor without a professional Canadian tax lawyer present. Any information that is wrong, even if due to an error, will be used against the taxpayer. The auditor will also take notes and may misunderstand what the taxpayer has said or may wrongly record responses. An Ontario tax lawyer will have his or her own notes to contradict any auditor errors. Contact our Toronto tax law firm for tax help as soon as a CRA tax auditor contacts you.
Founding lawyer, David Rotfleisch is an expert in the realm of income tax law.You might say that income tax is David's passion for David is not only a lawyer, he is a chartered professional accountant. He has helped start-up businesses, resident and non-resident business owners and corporations with their tax affairs, and over the years, he has assisted numerous corporations and individuals with simple and complex tax and estate planning matters as well as tax amnesty and tax litigation issues.
We are Toronto based tax lawyers with more than 25 years of experience. We deal with all tax problems of the Canadian citizens and find out the perfect solution for them in a quick,responsive and efficient way. We fight CRA daily. Share your income tax problems with us and sleep at night.