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Introduction to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading in India
The Indian government has had an ambivalent outlook toward cryptocurrency, to say the least. Over the past few years, indecisiveness towards regulating crypto has not helped the country, despite the overwhelming demand for crypto services from the population. Virtual asset service providers (VASPs) abound, but there is no cohesive taxation policy. That may or may not be solved by government regulatory policies currently being considered. The country scores highly for the number of blockchain organizations operating, and also a high percentage of crypto ownership among the population. India’s position on the ranking could easily go either way on the back of further developments.
Coming up to date, India still has yet to make any firm and decisive running in the assessment, legislation, and adoption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Its position has been to wait and see. Although many would see this as a sign of not having a clue what to do. However, the government did recently impose a stiff transaction tax on the trading of Bitcoin which saw it upset many within the crypto industry in India. India could unveil new crypto-related tax rules in 2023 which would be formulated in conjunction with overall G-20 countries’ thinking. https://www.coindesk.com/policy/2022/12/09/india-looks-to-coordinate-global-crypto-rulemaking-as-it-assumes-g-20-presidency/. The Reserve Bank of India, even prior to the collapse of FTX (which has set alarm bells ringing around the world) was in favor of banning cryptocurrency adoption in India, so who knows how things will pan out?
Nevertheless, India is still keen on progressing with the development of its own CBDC.
Bitcoin trading & crypto law in India
Cryptocurrency trading is legal and acceptable but still unauthorized and unregulated. Originally, India’s banks were banned from allowing customers to trade in cryptocurrency, but things have obviously changed. Huge regulatory changes are on the table, like the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021. This, strangely, was scheduled to be tabled in the Budget session of Parliament in March but was deferred at the last minute so it’s watch this space time again. Well-structured cryptocurrency regulations that cover exchanges, blockchain technology, and crypto investment are still being debated and, some would say, overdue.
Legal – forthcoming crypto legislation
India is actively looking at ways of regulating crypto as a digital asset class rather than a currency. A move towards the regulation of crypto, rather than banning banks from offering crypto services, would be a sizable step forward. Despite institutional uncertainty, crypto has many advocates amongst the population.
Blockchain technology is also very much on the agenda – and maybe even a digital rupee.
Bitcoin taxes in India
Income tax India
Tax is a subject never far away from bitcoin and other digital currencies. For some time India had no taxation policy on trading or mining bitcoin. It recently followed the example of other countries in declaring that income from buying and selling crypto, and the gains from crypto-related services, are covered by the country’s Income Tax Act. At the very least you’ll have to record all of your crypto dealings in anticipation of whatever income tax you may or may not be eligible for.
Along with the capital gains charge, the finance ministry also announced a 1% tax deductible at source on all digital-asset transfers above a certain size last year. Something which brought outcry among the crypto industry participants who saw it as a step that will curtail the growth of India’s cryptocurrency ambitions. Nb This tax imposition is what caused India’s position to slide down the Coincub.com crypto rankings in Q2/Q3 2022.
While there is a lack of a clear taxation strategy regarding crypto, it looks like that won’t last long.
Tax when moving residency
If you are a long-term resident of India, you are probably deemed a permanent resident for tax purposes. If you are not a permanent resident and your holdings are outside of India you’ll fall under the required tax laws of your adopted country.
Tax on mining
There is a spirited debate in India about the taxation of virtual assets. It may be that mining for bitcoin will be classified as ‘Income from other sources’ and be taxed as such. Whether it is worth it after all the electricity costs is up to you and the depth of your pockets – but as yet the tax position has yet to be decided.
Crypto financial services in India
Fin services – retirement planning
Most retirement and pension funds worldwide deem cryptocurrencies to be too volatile to become part of long-term retirement schemes. There is little certainty on this at present.
Fin services – banking
Leading Indian banks Axis Bank, ICICI, and HDFC Bank have been instrumental in crypto adoption for the broader population by facilitating crypto-related transactions. Customers are allowed and encouraged to use their accounts for crypto trading,
Fin Services – Defi
India’s government is exploring the use of blockchain and fintech advantages.
Using crypto in India
The crypto phenomenon has been growing in India for some time and investing in crypto for gain, as opposed to using it for payments, is riding a massive wave of enthusiasm. Bitcoin is used for online shopping with a number of major stores including SapnaOnline and Overstock allowing you to use crypto for more or less everything including travel, products, books, toys, gizmos, and services.
Gifting crypto via gift cards or outright gifts as yet has no set tax strategy so you’ll be well-advised to keep records and see what the status of your trading and gifting is under any upcoming legislation.
Crypto regulation in India
India has under-regulated its crypto sector but the sheer volume of trading has led to the formation of crypto forums to discuss ongoing development. Plenty of overseas and home-based exchanges operate, each with its own services, features, and layers of protection. You need to do your homework and find which suits you as, at present, any setbacks or mishaps will be down to you and the exchange or wallet you’re using in the current absence of clear regulation.
You have plenty of choices for exchanges, both overseas and home-based. In all cases, you’ll have to verify your email address and identity. Local exchanges all have to comply with central bank guidelines and reporting obligations.
Crypto Facilitation - Banks3
Crypto Services - VASPS3
Crypto Pensions / Investment Industry2
Business Community and Enterprise Funding3
Trade Brains is a Stock market analytics and education service platform in India with a mission to simplify stock market investing.
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