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Bitcoin? You have to pay tax on that says SARS

06 April 2018 - 15:37 By Robert Laing
Image: yourg / 123RF

Though bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are not legal tender in SA‚ you still have to pay tax on them‚ the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said in a statement on Friday.

SARS said people who accept bitcoin as payment have to declare it as taxable income and punters who have managed to buy crypto-currencies low and sell high have to pay capital gains tax.

Furthermore‚ bitcoin miners also have to pay tax‚ SARS said‚ adding that it did not see a need for new tax laws to be created for crypto-currencies as the existing rules covering "intangible assets" could be applied.

"While not constituting cash‚ crypto-currencies can be valued to ascertain an amount received or accrued as envisaged in the definition of ‘gross income’ in the Income Tax Act‚" Friday’s statement said.

"Following normal income tax rules‚ income received or accrued from crypto-currency transactions can be taxed on revenue account under ‘gross income’. Alternatively‚ such gains may be regarded as capital in nature‚ as spelt out in the eighth schedule to the Act for taxation under the capital gains tax paradigm."

Something that is not clear‚ however‚ is the VAT status of bitcoin. Said the statement: "The 2018 annual budget review indicates that the VAT treatment of crypto-currencies will be reviewed. Pending policy clarity in this regard‚ SARS will not require VAT registration as a vendor for purposes of the supply of crypto-currencies."