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Australia Enhances Data Program to Identify Non-Compliant Crypto Taxpayers

ByDayne Lee

Jun 30, 2024

Australia Enhances Data Program to Identify Non-Compliant Crypto Taxpayers

As the Australian financial year draws to a close on June 30, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is intensifying its oversight on cryptocurrency gains. With taxpayers starting to lodge their returns, the ATO’s scrutiny is particularly focused on those who have profited from cryptocurrencies.

Adam Saville-Brown, general manager of crypto tax reporting software Koinly, emphasized the ATO’s persistent focus on the crypto sector. According to Michelle Legge, Koinly’s tax education head, the ATO has updated its crypto data matching program to extend from 2014 to 2026, aiming to collect comprehensive data from any legally operating crypto exchange in Australia. The program is designed to gather detailed information on 1.2 million crypto investors annually, including personal details such as names, addresses, emails, social media accounts, and IP addresses.

While most Australian crypto investors are aware of their tax obligations, the revamped data collection efforts are expected to identify those few who may not comply. Non-compliant investors might receive a reminder letter from the ATO to properly report their transactions, indicating the seriousness with which the ATO views accurate crypto reporting.

Complications Arising from Celsius Refunds

The bankruptcy of the American crypto lender Celsius has added complexity to the crypto tax landscape. Saville-Brown pointed out the confusion among users about how to handle Bitcoin and Ether repayments from Celsius, given the ATO’s lack of clear guidance on the tax implications. Investors face uncertainties about calculating gains or losses and determining the appropriate cost basis for their refunded assets.

Crypto deposits and withdrawals represent taxable events, potentially leading to capital gains or losses depending on the purchase price of the assets. The ATO has not specified whether investors should use standard accounting methods or consider alternatives, such as the original purchase cost or the value at specific dates like when withdrawals were limited or the bankruptcy filing date.

Given the complexities and potential financial impact of these tax events, Saville-Brown recommends consulting with an experienced accountant to navigate potential tax liabilities, whether they represent gains or losses.

Tax Implications of New Bitcoin ETFs

The introduction of two spot Bitcoin ETFs in Australia this month marks a significant development, with one ETF directly holding Bitcoin and another launching on the country’s largest stock exchange. Despite these innovations, traditional tax laws still apply. Legge noted that investors would be liable for Capital Gains Tax upon selling holdings from a Bitcoin ETF if they realize a gain, underscoring that even new financial products carry tax implications.

The ATO’s enhanced data matching program underscores its commitment to ensuring compliance within the burgeoning crypto market. As the landscape evolves with new products and complex cases like Celsius, the need for clear guidance and professional tax advice becomes increasingly crucial. Australian crypto investors must navigate this intricate tax environment to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.

Featured image credit: vectorjuice via Freepik

Dayne Lee

With a foundation in financial day trading, I transitioned to my current role as an editor, where I prioritize accuracy and reader engagement in our content. I excel in collaborating with writers to ensure top-quality news coverage. This shift from finance to journalism has been both challenging and rewarding, driving my commitment to editorial excellence.

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