Cryptocurrency Is Taxed In Australia: Here’s What You Need To Know

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  • Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are considered as assets by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and may be subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).
  • All digital currency transactions made during the financial year, irrespective if they were gains or losses, must be reported to the ATO.
  • Capital gains will be triggered when an individual buys, sells, gifts, mines, or spends cryptocurrency and may be subject to CGT.
  • Crypto assets held for at least 12 months will receive a 50% CGT discount.

Digital currencies are legal to buy, trade, possess, and sell in Australia. They can even be used to purchase goods and services. While crypto is legal in Australia, the government has deemed crypto to be treated as property or assets, and therefore subject to taxation.

Understanding The Australian Tax Climate

Before we get started, it's important to understand how the ATO defines the tax treatment of cryptocurrency in Australia. Essentially, it is classified by the Government as a “digital asset in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of additional units and verify transactions on a blockchain. Cryptocurrency generally operates independently of a central bank, central authority or government.” 

Any reference to ‘cryptocurrency' therefore includes Bitcoin and other altcoins that you might be holding in your hardware wallet or crypto trading platform. The majority of people that want to buy Bitcoin will likely be subject to the ATO's tax treatments under Capital Gains Tax (CGT) laws or as taxable income under a business.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Explained

Assets that have been acquired since 1985 are subject to CGT unless specifically excluded. This means any capital asset such as real estate, shares and cryptocurrencies that makes a capital gain or loss is applicable under the code. The difference between the asset cost to acquire and the sale price to sell is referred to as capital gain or loss.

The sale of an asset will need to be declared as part of an income tax return and to pay tax on capital gains. The capital gain is considered income and can increase the amount of tax to pay. Any loss that is incurred can be used to reduce a capital gain.

Assets that are used for personal use such as your house, car, furniture and jewelry are exempt from CGT. Furthermore, any asset that depreciates and is used for taxable purposes such as investment property, business computers and equipment and work vehicle expenses are not subject to CGT.

Yes, Most People Need To Pay Tax On Cryptocurrency

The short answer is that most individuals and businesses must declare their cryptocurrency activities for the financial year. The tax treatment of cryptocurrencies depends on whether the individual is classified by the ATO as an investor or trader.

  • Investor: any capital gains resulting from buying and selling cryptocurrencies will be taxed. There is a 50% CGT discount that you may be eligible for holding the asset for more than 12 months.
  • Trader: you will be taxed as a sole trader conducting a business to generate an income through trading cryptocurrencies. Business expenses involved with trading crypto as a business are tax-deductible.

Crypto Activities That Are Taxable In Australia

Anyone who is involved in acquiring or disposing of cryptocurrency is subject to tax implications. These can vary depending on the nature of your circumstances and your marginal tax rate. Each time you buy, sell, gift, trade, mine, or spend cryptocurrency using a debit card, you are performing a Capital Gains Tax event, and some or all of the gains may be taxed.

For the majority of individuals, the following crypto activities are deemed to be taxable events:

How Much Crypto Tax Will I Need To Pay?

It can be a challenging task to know how much tax you need to pay on cryptocurrency transactions. If you are buying and holding a crypto asset and then selling it at a future date, this will incur a capital gains tax. It means you will likely have to pay tax on it. Although, the amount of crypto tax you will pay depends on a few factors:

  • Are you an Australian resident for tax purposes?
  • How much income do you earn?

If you're a cryptocurrency enthusiast and have invested or traded in digital currencies, then you will be taxed on any capital gains resulting from your crypto trades. As an example, if you purchased Ethereum with AUD as an investment and sold it back for cash or another cryptocurrency at a higher price that resulted in a capital gain, you will need to pay tax on the gain.

However, if you hold your crypto asset for more than 12 months, you could be entitled to a 50% capital gains tax discount. This means that even if the market value (in AUD) of your crypto portfolio changes, you don't make a capital gain or loss until you have disposed of your digital assets.

Once you've calculated the capital gain amount, you can figure out the tax owed by referring to your marginal income tax rate. Capital gains in Australia are taxed at the same rate as the marginal income tax rate.

Calculating The Amount Of Tax Owed

The amount of tax you pay on your crypto earnings can vary depending on the type of activities you undertake. In Australia, profits and losses as a result of cryptocurrency activities need to be calculated in Australian Dollars. So you will need to convert the crypto assets price at the time of purchase and selling into AUD. The difference in fiat value between these dates will be subject to capital gains tax. This includes when you swap cryptocurrency in exchange for AUD, convert to another coin or purchase goods and services with cryptocurrency. To learn how to calculate crypto gains and losses, read our full guide.

Filing Taxes On Crypto Losses Are Included

If you make a loss trading cryptocurrency after selling it for less than what you purchased it for, this is considered a capital loss. It is in your own best interest to record any capital loss as it can be used to reduce future capital gains. This can offset your taxable income such as future tax returns, therefore, it is very important to record all your crypto trading activities throughout the year. 

For example, if you bought 1 Bitcoin when the price was $5,000 and sold 1 Bitcoin again for $20,000, you would generate a CGT event. Therefore, you will likely need to pay tax on the $15,000 gain in price measured in Australian Dollars, at the time you sold it.

Don't Avoid Paying Crypto Taxes In Australia

It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid paying tax on your crypto holdings. Each time you purchase crypto using fiat, or convert a crypto coin to another, a digital trail is left behind. Due to pressure from local authorities, crypto exchanges are being requested to hand over their data on their users to tax authorities.

In a report from Globe Newswire, the ATO is expecting to collect more than $3 Billion in tax fines from crypto traders and investors this financial year alone. Furthermore, the Australian government is also allocating a billion dollars to identify anyone who has not declared their trading activity and filed their taxes. 

Do I Need To Record Each Crypto Asset and Trade?

Each cryptocurrency transaction is considered to be a capital gains asset and can be subject to taxable events. If you hold several altcoins on your hardware wallet, you need to maintain records of each coin and all transactions involving that asset when preparing your crypto tax return.

The swapping of one cryptocurrency to another is considered a capital gains tax event. As such, the tax office will treat the sale of the coin at the market price in fiat currency of each asset at the time of the transaction. For example, if you sell Bitcoin for Ethereum, tax agencies would treat this as a sale of Bitcoin at the market price of the Ethereum that you received in your exchange wallet.

This Is What You Need To Record

You need to keep records of the date of the transaction (buy and sell), the cryptocurrency asset(s), and who you traded with. Your crypto tax is calculated in Australian dollars, and you will need to convert the crypto into Aussie dollars at the time of the transaction (for purchase, sell, and trade events).

This information may be included in a payment receipt, .csv format files exported from crypto exchanges, or transaction history from your digital wallet. The ATO can accept each of these documentation methods.

Crypto Tax Calculators Can Help

There are several examples of tax software applications online to help track your trades and generate a capital gains report. Each software can assist with calculating profit and losses to meet your tax obligations. A few of the best crypto tax software in the market are Koinly, Tax and CoinTracker.

If you're an active trader, using these crypto tax software apps will be a highly valuable tool to remove the headache of preparing a crypto tax return. However, if you prefer to calculate your taxes by yourself, you can always choose to do it the old-fashioned way using a crypto tax spreadsheet to record each of your trades.

Certain cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia have in-built reporting and taxation tools to facilitate the reporting of data for taxation purposes for investors who have used a self-managed super fund to purchase crypto.

Disclaimer: Please do not rely on the general information herein as fact, we are not tax experts or financial advisors/planners. You should always seek your own financial, legal, and tax advice from a professional.

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