An analysis of issues relating to the taxation of cryptocurrencies as financial instruments

Basson, Remerta (2020)

CITATION: Basson, R. 2020. An analysis of issues relating to the taxation of cryptocurrencies as financial instruments. Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences, 13(1):a487, doi:10.4102/jef.v13i1.487.

Article

Orientation: This article examines the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions performed by natural persons in South Africa. Research purpose: The aim of this article was to document the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions subsequent to the inclusion of cryptocurrency in the definition of ‘financial instrument’ in section 1(1) of the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962, and to determine whether this inclusion gives rise to unanticipated issues. Motivation for the study: This investigation was necessitated by the distinguishing features of cryptocurrency that differentiate it from other financial instruments. Research approach/design and method: This article falls within the reform-orientated genre of doctrinal research. A desktop literature review was conducted to determine the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions, based on an interpretation of relevant legislation and a review of secondary commentary. Key issues identified in the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions were documented, and recommendations were made for addressing the issues identified. Main findings: A misalignment may occur between taxable incomes and economic gains of taxpayers engaged in cryptocurrency mining. Practical/managerial implications: The South African Revenue Service (SARS) should allow for a deduction equivalent to the market value of cryptocurrency acquired through cryptocurrency mining in terms of section 22(2)(a). Contribution/value-add: A risk of misalignment between taxable incomes and economic gains of taxpayers performing cryptocurrency mining has been identified and documented, which may inform legislative amendment, or the practice of the SARS.

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