Japanese Government to Simplify Cryptocurrency Taxation Process

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A committee of tax experts in Japan that is responsible for advising the government on taxation matters has called for the simplification of the country’s cryptocurrency tax filing process.

According to officials of the tax panel, the process is currently complicated and a change is required in order to enhance accuracy and compliance. Per a Japanese news publication, Sankei, the committee held a meeting earlier in the week where the proposal to change the current cryptocurrency tax filing system was discussed.

Part of the problem according to the committee lies in the fact that calculating cryptocurrency gains for taxation purposes is a complex affair and this discourages some owners of digital assets from declaring their crypto holdings when filing tax returns.

Taxing Gains and Conversion Premium

According to the tax panel, cryptocurrencies in the Asian country are taxed not only on the gains made but also on the gains accruing when one digital asset is converted into another. Other complications stem from the fact that a unified source of historical data on prices is lacking. Towards finding a solution the panel has indicated that it will hold meetings where it will seek views and opinions from various stakeholders.

As previously reported by CCN cryptocurrency investors in Japan face crypto tax rates ranging between 15% and 55% and this is classified under miscellaneous income. The amount paid as tax depends on earnings with the higher rate imposed on the high-earners. For instance, investors who generate yearly earnings of more than 40 million yen (approximately US$365,000) pay a 55% rate on their cryptocurrency income.

The view by the tax panel that simplifying the cryptocurrency tax filing process will enhance compliance is correct as it has been previously noted that a significant number of crypto investors in Japan could be evading taxes. A report released earlier this year, for instance, indicated that out of the 549 individuals who recorded a non-working or non-operational profit (income generated from investments) of US$1 million in 2017, about 331 were investors in the crypto space.

https://twitter.com/GigaBitcoin/status/1001322461437177861

Tax Avoidance

This was however met with incredulity with some observers saying that many more evaded paying taxes on their crypto investments especially given the fact that Japan is not only the world’s third-largest economy but the level of cryptocurrency use, awareness and adoption is among the highest in the globe.

“If the rapid growth of the cryptocurrency sector in late 2017 is considered, 331 is a number that is simply too low to be true. A large portion of cryptocurrency investors probably did not declare their earnings to the government,” one analyst observed as CCN reported at the time.

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Russian Draft Bill Lacks Core Crypto Terms After Recent Edits

Russian deputies have removed the definition of crypto mining from a draft bill on digital currency regulation ahead of its next reading in the State Duma, major local news agency Interfax reports Oct. 19. Consequently, the new law will not clarify tax issues for miners.

The chairman of the Duma Committee on Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov briefly explained the reason behind the deputies’ decision to eliminate a core crypto term from the bill:

“Earlier we had some thoughts on Bitcoins, on their integration into our economic system. But as we decided we don’t need them, these ambiguous Bitcoins, therefore we don’t need mining as well.”

If the law were to define crypto mining, it consequently would also need to define cryptocurrencies, Aksakov told Interfax. He further added that it would be “senseless” to include mining in the regulation proposed by the government. He said mining should be brought under tax watchdog jurisdiction if needed.

It is not immediately clear whether definitions for tokens and Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and rules for crypto exchanges — which were included in the initial draft — remain in the current version. The present draft law will proceed to the second of three readings in the Duma.

The bill “On Digital Financial Assets” was first introduced in January by the Russian Ministry of Finance. In March, a group of deputies headed by Aksakov proposed a modified version that established know your customer (KYC) regulations for customer identity verification on crypto exchanges, echoing current requirements in the U.S. A draft of the bill was approved by the State Duma in first of three hearings in May.

However, before the second hearing scheduled for the Duma’s autumn session, a definition of “cryptocurrency” was removed from bill. Mining then was defined as the “release of tokens to attract investment in capital.”

In September, a lobby group from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) started working on an alternative crypto regulation bill. According to RSPP vice-president Elina Sidorenko, the new bill will divide digital assets in three groups and help eliminate contradictions in the state bill that she calls “unfinished and fragmented.”

Aksakov spoke to Interfax at Finnopolis 2018 — a fintech event that was held in the Russian city of Sochi this week. During the conference, state officials discussed crypto and its role in the country’s economy.

The head of the Russian central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, compared interest in crypto to a “fever” that was “fortunately” over. Herman Gref, CEO of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, predicted that governments will not abandon centralized control of monetary policy and currencies to allow cryptocurrencies to flourish within the next ten years.

Financial Action Task Force Adopts Changes to Standards Covering Virtual Currencies

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has adopted changes to its standards regarding digital currencies and firms involved into cryptocurrency-related activities, according to an announcement published Oct. 19.

Paris-based FATF, also known as Groupe d’action financière (GAFI), is an intergovernmental organization established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to fight money laundering. The FATF has since developed a series of Recommendations recognized as the international standard for combating money laundering (ML) and the financing of illicit activities.

In 2015, the FATF introduced guidance on a risk-based approach to digital currencies, calling all countries to take coordinated action in preventing the use of virtual currencies for crime and terrorism financing (TF).

Now, the organization has determined that the Recommendations require revision as governments and the private sector have sought clarification on exactly which activities the FATF standards apply to.

Per the changes, jurisdictions should ensure that virtual asset service providers — exchanges, wallet providers, and providers of financial services for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) — are subject to anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT) regulations.

According to the FATF, such entities should be registered or licensed and monitored for due diligence compliance, record-keeping, and reporting of suspicious transactions.

The FATF also noted that it will provide clarification in ML and TF risks related to virtual currencies, and at the same time develop a regulatory environment where companies are free to innovate. The statement further reads:

“As part of a staged approach, the FATF will prepare updated guidance on a risk-based approach to regulating virtual asset service providers, including their supervision and monitoring; and guidance for operational and law enforcement authorities on identifying and investigating illicit activity involving virtual assets.”

Last month, the FATF’s president Marshall Billingslea said that current AML standards and regimes for cryptocurrencies are “very much a patchwork quilt or spotty process,” which is “creating significant vulnerabilities for both national and international financial systems”. However, he pointed out that despite the risks related to these assets, digital currency as an asset class present “a great opportunity.”

In June, the FATF announced its efforts to develop binding rules for crypto exchanges, which would also be an upgrade to the non-binding resolutions which were adopted by the FATF in June 2015. Apart from AML measures and reporting suspicious trading operations, the agency will also investigate how to work with countries who have moved to ban cryptocurrencies.