How Is Bitcoin Taxed In The Uk?


Our team are fully up to speed with the accounting guidelines on this emerging form of currency and are ready to help you answers questions such as, “how is Bitcoin taxed in the UK?”. Cryptocurrencies are becoming an increasingly popular way to invest and transact. As a result, the value of some cryptocurrencies have reach levels beyond any predictions, and with that has come an enormous wave of individual and licensed traders who have made a tidy fortune. The law surrounding Bitcoin can be quite a challenge if you don’t have the support of an experienced lawyer. If you’re representing a Bitcoin case or have questions regarding this area of law, please don’t hesitate toget in touchwith our team of Bitcoin lawyers. At St. Paul Chambers, our specialist Bitcoin lawyers can offer legal advice and support.

Whether cryptocurrencies are chose in action, in possession or something else does matter. Defences under English law that are open to a defendant who has received stolen cryptocurrency are probably wider if the cryptocurrency is treated as a chose in possession than a chose in action. The starting point for both is the ‘nemo dat’ rule (i.e. a seller of property cannot give better title to the property than he himself has). The main exception to that rule is the ‘bona fide purchaser for value without notice’ rule (i.e. a person who buys property in good faith and is not on notice of defects in the transferor’s title takes good title). While that applies to both types of personal property, it is more difficult to see how it could affect a chose in action . Also, there are far more statutory defences available in respect of chose in possession . In short, the ability to satisfy the court that there is a serious issue could well be harder to satisfy if cryptocurrencies are classified as chose in possession because there will be a much greater likelihood of the defendant having a potentially good defence.

A Bitcoin First? Stewarts Obtains Asset Preservation Order Over Cryptocurrency

Firstly, to buy and store a cryptocurrency is quite technically demanding and it’s very easy for things to go wrong. The lack of regulation and central authority means that seeking compensation or making complaints is also very difficult. The instability of cryptocurrencies does means that it’s possible to make huge gains with small amounts of investments. But it’s also possible to make huge losses in a relatively short space of time. There are many legitimate reasons to use cryptocurrency in place of everyday currencies like British Pounds – it’s secure, cheap and fast and offers genuine technical innovations that many believe will one day replace more traditional forms of exchange. When the problem is solved, tokens for whichever cryptocurrency was being worked on are created, for example a bitcoin, and the computer that got the solution gets the new token. So, if you’re looking to buy or invest in Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency, you’ll have limited legal protection and a high risk of losing some or all of your capital.

In October 2019, Mr Dombrovskis also alluded to the regulation of stablecoins, following Facebook’s plans to introduce Libra. The digital finance strategy and supporting legislation is expected to be revealed later this year. Currently, unregulated cryptoassets will be covered according to the proportionality of their risk to turn Europe into the leader for digital finance. Cases combining “persons unknown” and cryptocurrencies present novel legal problems for unwary claimants, and it’s clear that difficulties arose in AA. As the Bitfinex companies were based in the BVI, and the whereabouts of the “persons unknown” was not known, the claimant needed the court’s permission to serve process out of the jurisdiction. The claimant was the English cybercrime insurer of a Canadian company targeted by the BitPaymer ransomware virus.

how is bitcoin legal

Tax treatment of any transaction involving the use of cryptocurrencies needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis considering the specific facts, each case being considered based on its own individual facts and circumstances. Transactions that are subject to tax need to be analysed in the same way as any other transaction—broadly, by reference to the nature of the activities and the status of the parties . HMRC has not introduced any new legislation that relates specifically to cryptocurrencies as it believes that the existing legislation is sufficient to impose any necessary tax.

What Are The Laws Surrounding Bitcoin?

There can be fees for funding an account with a debit card or bank transfer, as well as the trading costs of actually buying bitcoin. As well as that documentation, exchanges may levy a variety of fees depending on the payment method investors opt for. Exchanges state this is to prevent fraud and protect their investors, as well as to comply with anti-money laundering and ‘know your customer’ regulations. In some instances, this means investors will have to pay foreign exchange fees as these exchanges will only accept deposits in dollars or euros. The underlying technology is blockchain, a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.

Then claimants’ ability to trace and the range of remedies available is increased. Also the cryptocurrency might appreciate significantly in value during the time the claimant is out of possession and the claimant may want the specific cryptocurrency returned rather than having to seek damages and engage in arguments over the quantum of loss. By coincidence the launch was book-ended by the first two interim judicial decisions in which bitcoin was treated as legal property. It is fair to say that the Legal Statement is a first in English law and a genuine legal landmark; and that the two cases are important indicators of the challenges ahead. Many start-ups report that they had their bank account frozen or closed when their bank learned that it might be used to receive funds related to cryptocurrencies.

If you’re looking to invest in Bitcoin, you have the peace of mind that your transactions have added security. As Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, there are built-in preventative measures against identity theft, such as your personal information is hidden from others.

  • By coincidence the launch was book-ended by the first two interim judicial decisions in which bitcoin was treated as legal property.
  • While its adverts are primarily about letting investors buy into their favourite companies, the 13-year-old firm started offering cryptocurrency access in 2018.
  • The mathematical problems that are being solved are connected to the blockchain, the record of every single token in a cryptocurrency.
  • Consumers have been warned of the possible risks from buying, trading or holding virtual currencies such as Bitcoins by a European financial regulator.
  • Before dealing in Bitcoin, it’s vital that you do your research to understand what you are committing to.

The knowledge behind Bitcoin is developing each day; therefore, it’s easy to acquire the resources you need. Although the blockchain is a public resource, the technology behind the blockchain ensures transactions won’t be traced back to you. Bitcoins are essentially computer files that are stored in a digital wallet app on a PC or mobile.

if you make a gift to someone and survive 7 years you are unlikely to have to pay any further tax on it. This is a yearly limit and you can bring forward 1 years’ worth of unused allowance as well. Also, assets transferred between spouses occur at no gain no loss, so this can be used to shift the income partner who is on a basic tax band and to make use of the their income tax and capital gain allowances during a tax year. an investment asset, and the transaction were subject to CGT rather than income tax, it would be carrying out a barter transaction, and the consideration for CGT purposes would be the sterling equivalent of the Bitcoins at the date of the disposal. Regulators and Government agencies around the world are increasingly worried about the implications of Cryptocurrency as a potential instrument for money laundering. The anonymity and instant transfer of fund globally, making it attractive to criminals and tax avoiders.

This will force traders to disclose their identities and report suspicious activity. The new rules, which will be applied across the European Union, are expected to come into force in early in 2018. This could pave the way toward a new regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in UK. You can buy Cryptocurrency using conventional currency and either held as an investment, use it to pay for goods and services or donate as Gift to another person.

Perhaps ironically, some of those least keen on bitcoin are the new breed of digital challenger banks, with Starling blocking cryptocurrency purchases. As well as the five major exchanges outlined above, other trading platforms also let investors buy into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. These are platforms, mobile apps and websites which allow investors to purchase bitcoin with government, or fiat, money or with another cryptocurrency. The most common place to purchase bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is what is known as a cryptocurrency exchange. Money held in cryptocurrencies is unprotected and the coins are among the most volatile investments around, buying bitcoin can still be complex and may be difficult for casual investors to get their head around.


The digital currency that most will be familiar with is free from government interference and can be shared instantly online. Find out how bitcoin and the blockchain works, so that you have some understanding of the system, the ledger, the major players and the public and private key elements. While crypto watchers say the latest boom has been driven more by professional investors, there is evidence more armchair enthusiasts are trying to get in on the action, especially as it continues to make headlines. Bitcoin is quickly closing in on all-time high, with the price of the cryptocurrency surging since September and now at more than $18,500 a coin.

statistics show that in June and July 2018 people lost more than £2 million to cryptocurrency scams – that’s over £10,000 per person. Anyone can mine for most cryptocurrencies, but it is a difficult and time-consuming process. Cryptocurrencies are only a digital representation of value which isn’t issued or guaranteed by a central bank or public authority.

how is bitcoin legal

The DCB was the most recent one, stating that it is “not unethical for a lawyer to accept cryptocurrency”. Prior to the DCB, official statements were made by the bar associations in Nebraska, New York and North Carolina. There is a slow but steady payment revolution on the rise in the legal sector and, recently, iLaw became one of the first law firms in the UK accepting payment in the form of BTC, ETH or other cryptocurrencies.

The risk for those businesses who failed to submit an application by 30 June 2020 is that their subsequent application may not be processed by 10 January 2021, in which case they will have to cease trading. On that basis, the claimant didn’t suffer loss until JJ transferred the bitcoin. As a bitcoin is simply a record on a distributed ledger that has no locus, it does not exist anywhere. But should that be the claimant’s location or its agent’s (which may have been elsewhere?) These are difficult questions with which the English courts are going to have to grapple. In an article recently published in Juriste Magazine, Partner Marc Jones takes stock of how English law is dealing with cryptoassets, what we’ve learned so far and what problems remain.

If we see fit, we may appoint another person or organisation to hold your cryptocurrencies. Opentracker is a solution for website and app traffic reporting and analytics. It specialises in business intelligence and serves as an analytics tool to track digital events and engagement important to our website – including clicks, logins, downloads and forms. It covers the latest reported cases, regulatory announcements and corporate developments in the cryptocurrency sector.

For example, an office-holder would need to know against whom action could be taken in order to realise the value of the virtual currency. In the narrow context of fraud claims, obtaining proprietary relief gives the claimant a much stronger position. The specific assets are better secured and cannot be used to pay the defendants costs.

After that, income and expenses would need to be calculated in sterling each year with the profits reported to HMRC and tax duly paid. Any expenses claimed would need to relate solely and specifically to the trade of mining. It means that the transaction has not yet been included in the blockchain and is still reversible. When that happens, it is said that a confirmation has occurred for the transaction.

Crypto-currencies may have a reputation as being the preserve of those seeking to undertake illegal activity but the Blockchain technology that lies behind it is likely to become an ever-more common feature of commercial transactions. Online retailers, for example, would like nothing more than to be able to transact with customers using a currency that enabled them to circumvent the banking system.

A fork may seriously change the function, value or even the name of a cryptocurrency. If this happens, we’ll speak to our partnered cryptocurrency exchanges and work out the best approach for our customers. Remember, unless you are a Premium or Metal customer, you can make a set amount of free exchanges in crypto, commodities and foreign currencies every month. The set amount depends on what your base currency is and is set out on our Fees Page. The exchange rate may change between the time you told us you wanted to buy or sell cryptocurrency and the time we actually buy or sell it on your behalf. This means that if you ask us to buy cryptocurrency, you may receive a little more or less cryptocurrency than what you had expected and if you ask us to sell cryptocurrency, you may receive more or less e-money than you expected.

It should be noted however, especially with fraud cases that jurisdictional issues will need careful handling, including determining where the damage has been suffered. With over 30 years’ experience, Jeremy Barnett is one of the UK’s leading cryptocurrency lawyers. For more information on the latest developments in blockchains, Bitcoin law and technology, Jeremy regularly shares his expertise on his blog. The Bitcoin blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions in the Bitcoin network. As there isn’t a third party involved in the transactions between two parties, a blockchain is used as a secure wallet service. However, this type of blockchain differs from other forms of cryptocurrencies.

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However, various technical issues have yet to be clarified (e.g., the actual value of the service provided by the token issuer is generally unknown at the time of the ICO). In most cases, the funds collected by the issuer will eventually be recorded as income. Then, although there has been no specific regulation on this matter yet, value added tax and income tax will have to be paid by the issuer. To our knowledge, there have been no major criminal or civil enforcement decisions related to cryptocurrencies. In addition, as explained in Section IV, approved ICO issuers will be subject to AML/CFT requirements, but only in relation to transactions received from investors during the token offering.

However, the bank later managed to close the bank account by claiming that the company was operating as an unlicensed payment services provider. With regard to utility tokens, in theory, VAT rules should be applicable, as soon as services are provided or goods are delivered in exchange for tokens.

The first is an increase in mainstream and speculative interest in bitcoin , causing the proportion of illegal bitcoin activity to decline, despite the fact that the absolute amount of such activity has continued to increase. The second factor is the emergence of alternative cryptocurrencies that are more opaque and better at concealing a user’s activity . Bitcoin Hobby or trade Activities which generate speculative gain are not taxable in UK e,g gambling or betting wins and gambling losses .

The estimated 24 million bitcoin market participants that use bitcoin primarily for illegal purposes annually conduct around 36 million transactions, with a value of around $72 billion, and collectively hold around $8 billion worth of bitcoin. Unfortunately, there is very little guidance on the meaning of ‘trade’ in the tax legislation. The lack of statutory guidance on the meaning of ‘trade’ has resulted in extensive case law over the years.

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