The IMF, or International Monetary Fund, renowned for its extensive research and analysis in the realm of global finance, has recently released a working paper that sheds light on the intricate challenges associated with tax collection in the realm of cryptocurrencies.
This report brings into focus the increasingly complex nature of tax treatment in relation to these digital assets, as cryptocurrencies straddle the dual roles of investments and currencies.
Furthermore, the paper underscores the formidable obstacles posed by the pseudonymous nature of cryptocurrency systems, which in turn hinder the collection and enforcement of tax codes.
IMF Working Paper Explores Complexities Of Taxing Cryptocurrencies
The paper highlights several factors that contribute to the complexity of taxing cryptocurrencies, including the “semi-anonymity” of crypto transactions, its dual nature as both an investment vehicle and a means of payment, and its notorious volatility.
The IMF notes that current tax systems were not designed to accommodate blockchain technology, which has given rise to a wide range of assets requiring separate treatment, further complicating the matter.
“Policymakers are struggling to accommodate cryptocurrencies within tax systems not designed to handle them; this paper reviews the issues that arise.
The greatest challenges are for implementation: crypto’s quasi-anonymity is an inherent obstacle to third-party reporting.”… pic.twitter.com/qTCo6jnL6I
— Joshua Rosenberg (@_jrosenberg) July 5, 2023
The lack of consensus regarding the appropriate tax classification for cryptocurrencies adds to the challenge. The IMF points out that there is no prevailing agreement on whether cryptocurrencies should be taxed as income, capital gains, or even gambling. This ambiguity further hampers tax collectors in their efforts to establish clear guidelines and enforcement mechanisms.
Furthermore, despite the vast amount of transaction data theoretically available for analysis, the IMF laments the scarcity of analytical work and empirical evidence in this domain. This scarcity underscores the need for further research to inform effective taxation policies in the crypto sphere.
Total market cap of cryptocurrencies at $1.16 trillion on the daily char: TradingView.com
The popularity of cryptocurrencies in emerging economies exacerbates the issue, as these regions may have limited technological infrastructure for effective tax collection. Even in cases where crypto assets are seized, such as by law enforcement agencies, the method for executing such seizures remains unclear.
Taxing Cryptocurrencies: Challenges And Revenue Potential
The study also highlights meaningful tax evasion within the crypto ecosystem, although it notes that tax evasion is likely a by-product rather than the primary motivation for illegal activities. Money laundering in the crypto world is aimed at making illicit gains appear legal, potentially subject to taxation.
Estimating the scale of tax evasion remains challenging, but the paper offers calculations for potential revenue. Improved taxation of cryptocurrency capital gains could generate between $10 billion and $323 billion, depending on volatility and realized gains.
Applying securities trading tax rates suggested by the European Commission could yield around $15.8 billion. Alternatively, if all crypto transactions were subject to value-added tax (VAT), the potential revenue could range from $47.4 billion to $118.5 billion.
The IMF suggested that implementing enhanced reporting obligations for cryptocurrency miners could serve as an initial step toward improving tax compliance.
Featured image from Pymnts.com