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India to Tax All Crypto Trade by 30%

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The continued worldwide adoption of crypto and blockchain took another giant leap forward today with the announcement of tax implications and the issuance of CBDC’s from the Indian Ministry of Finance.

As part of the national budget for the forthcoming year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced any income from the transfer of ‘virtual digital assets’ is to be subject to a 30% tax. Sitharaman went on to declare that a digital Rupee would most likely be released sometime between 2022 and 2023 providing a clear sign that India is one step ahead in its proposed release of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

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Largest crypto market in the world.

In a long and detailed speech lasting over two hours, Ms Sitharaman said “there has been a phenomenal increase in transaction in virtual digital assets. The magnitude and frequency of these transactions have made it imperative to provide for a specific tax regime.”

India is believed to have one of the largest crypto markets in the world with as many as 15 million individual crypto investors. This figure has increased significantly in recent years despite the Royal Bank of India attempting to ban cryptocurrency trading in 2018 when it ordered banks not to facilitate crypto trade. More recently, in December 2021, the RBI was still pushing for a complete ban as it believed partial restrictions would not work. Therefore, although today’s announcement from the Ministry of Finance comes somewhat out of the blue it just goes to show the growth and strength of this nascent asset class is practically unstoppable.

Indian CBDC less than a year away?

While many countries continue to explore the issuance of a CBDC few seem to have made as much progress as India. As you may imagine China lead the pack with South Korea, Canada, and the European Union all still deep in the developmental phase.

In a press release from April 2021, The Bank of England announced plans of a ‘CBDC Taskforce’ to explore the possibility of creating its own CBDC, a statement in the following November however indicated that any plans to release ‘Britcoin’ to the general public may not come to fruition until 2025. India is well ahead in the development and release of its CBDC and while this may sound impressive it is worth remembering that every nation has a different economic framework with associated requirements.

Speaking of CBDC’s specifically Sitharaman said that digital currencies would be “issued using blockchain and ‘other technologies’ by the RBI starting 2022-23. This will give a big boost to the economy."

While there was no mention of crypto per se, the Minister preferred to use the term ‘Virtual Digital Asset.’ Additionally, many crypto proponents believe that ‘other technologies’ may be a nod towards third generation consensus protocols which technically don’t use a blockchain. With such a short timeline until launch India will be sure to experience a mass scramble for legitimate and up to date information, digital and hardware wallets and as can be expected the endless search for new opportunities for revenue. Watch this space.

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Mark Harridge

Author: Mark Harridge

Mark Harridge first came across Bitcoin and began to use its peer-to-peer payment network in mid to late-2011. He quickly understood that this technology would change the world. Mark is passionate about crypto adoption, from a macro economic and institutional perspective, and the numerous factors that fuel the relentless march towards individual self sovereignty and the decentralised society of the future.

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