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India proposes 30% tax on crypto and NFTs income

India on Tuesday announced plans to launch a digital currency by next year and tax cryptocurrencies and NFTs in one of its most remarkable tech and business-focused federal budgets as the second largest internet market moves to navigate the fast-evolving world of virtual financial instruments.

India proposes 30% tax on crypto and NFTs income

Income from the the transfer of any virtual assets will be taxed at 30%, the nation's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Tuesday. To capture details of all such crypto transactions, she also proposed a 1% tax deduction at source on payments made related to purchase of virtual assets.

"No deduction in respect of any expenditure or allowance shall be allowed while computing such income except cost of acquisition. Further, loss from transfer of digital asset cannot be set off against any other income," she said. "Gift of virtual digital asset is also proposed to be taxed at the hand of the recipient." The proposal comes at a time when the purchase of cryptocurrencies and NFTs are quickly making inroads in India despite regulatory uncertainty in the nation. Binance-owned WazirX said last month that yearly trading volume on its platform exceeded $43 billion in 2021, at an "1,735%" growth from 2020.

The growing adoption of crypto tokens has also led to the emergence of a group of startups looking to innovate in the space -- though their aggressive marketing campaigns have raised many eyebrows.

Andreessen Horowitz made its maiden investment in India last year by backing cryptocurrency exchange CoinSwitch Kuber.

"The magnitude and frequency of these transactions have made it imperative to provide for a specific tax regime," she said.

India's central bank will also introduce a digital currency in the next financial year, she said. The nation's central bank has been testing its CBDC through a number of controlled trialsfor several months in the country and has been examining its impact on the banking and monetary systems.

"Introduction of a central bank digital currency will give a big boost to digital economy. Digital currency will also lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system," she said. In a press note, New Delhi said its digital currency Central Bank will be treated as bank notes.

India's neighbor China said earlier this month that People's Bank of China has processed over 3 million transactions in digital yuan worth over $160 million as part of its CBDC trial. (China, if you remember, also labeled all private cryptocurrency-related transactions in the country as illegal last year.)

India's proposals today have somewhat created more confusion among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the general public alike about how New Delhi plans to tackle cryptocurrencies.

By introducing a tax system for crypto-related transactions, New Delhi appears to be either recognizing such virtual assets as legal tender, or as an investor wondered aloud, "take their pound of flesh from all the action."

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