Yes. Australia has taken a highly positive approach to regulating crypto exchanges for consumer protection and harnessing the advantages of blockchain technology in the mainstream financial sectors. The country also has a thriving crypto investor base with many ATMs.
Original enthusiasm for a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) to take its place within the country’s booming payments industry seems to have dimmed slightly. To date, the Australian government is looking to reassess its licensing and regulation of crypto service providers in 2023 as part of a strategy to get on top of crypto developments in the FTX collapse – something many governments are doing at present. Source: Forbes. Developing custodial and licensing frameworks to safeguard consumers is something Australia feels it has let slip over the past two years.
Part of this new framework will be assessing which digital assets should be regulated by financial services laws – ‘token mapping’ is the term that is being used to analyze the types of digital asset tokens and crypto assets in question. Licensing and regulation of crypto service providers will be part of a strategic plan for the payments system of Australia with a remit including digital wallets, stablecoins, and crypto assets. This also includes a deeper dive into the economic, legal, regulatory, and technological feasibility of a CBDC.
However, more importantly, the move shows Australia’s progressive approach to redefining its payment systems and embracing developments in digital currency. Australia’s government is looking to consult on regulating businesses that hold or offer custodial services on behalf of consumers. Effectively, the country now acknowledges that the crypto economy is supporting significant sums of money and represents an ongoing investment demand.
The number of people transacting in cryptocurrency in Australia continues to grow, more than doubling over the previous year so far. This growth may, of course, change following the early-year Bitcoin price falls. Nevertheless, the country is considering establishing some sort of licensing framework for digital exchanges, allowing the purchase, holding, and sale of crypto assets by consumers in a regulated environment. All in all, it’s another steady but positive step forward for investors who are perhaps looking to add crypto to their investment strategy but seeking clarity and confidence.
Crypto trading & crypto law in Australia
Is bitcoin legal in Australia? – YES
The good news is that investing or trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is legal and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Just remember that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has strict Government guidelines on trading that require crypto exchanges (the online platforms that buy and sell your bitcoins) to share your trading data with the ATO for tax purposes.
So, if you decide to invest in any cryptocurrency you need to keep records of your dealing.
If you want to trade bitcoin there are a number of well-established crypto exchanges that make it easy and straightforward to invest in Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are treated as property for tax purposes and are subject to Capital Gains Tax, just as with any other similarly defined assets. Before this cryptocurrency was subject to double taxation under the country’s goods and services tax (GST).
Crypto tax in Australia
Bitcoin tax in Australia
As with the UK and many other countries, there are no taxes on buying or holding cryptocurrencies in Australia. Cryptocurrencies have been declared legal in Australia and have to follow the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.
If you’re a resident of Australia, buying or trading Bitcoin for gain will be subject to income tax and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and the Australian Tax Office will know about your trading.
In a nutshell, if you exchange or sell your Bitcoin for goods, cash, or other cryptocurrencies it will be deemed to be a ‘disposal’ and subject to the prevailing tax laws. Any gain or loss you incur will have to be shown on your tax return and you can carry any losses forward to offset future gains. As an individual, the percentage you pay on Capital Gains Tax is the same as your income tax rate for the year. Once again, keeping records is vital.
As an individual investor, you’ll enjoy a 50% discount on tax if your crypto is held for 12 months or more. Any gain or loss you incur will have to be shown on your tax return and you can carry any losses forward to offset future gains.
Tax when moving residency
As with any income, your bitcoin will come under the tax laws of the country you become a legal resident. If you set up a business to trade bitcoin, that business will come under the tax laws of the country it operates from.
Bitcoin mining and taxation in Australia
It’s highly technical and beyond the scope of most individuals but mining for Bitcoin falls under standard Australian Income Tax Law.
Your ‘mined’ coins will be valued at their market price and the whole of that amount subject to standard income tax. Don’t forget, if you mine bitcoin and sell it for profit sometime later, that additional profit – between its value when you mined it and what you sell it for – also incurs CGT.
Bitcoin financial services in Australia
Bitcoin retirement planning in Australia
Investing in bitcoin for retirement funds is legal in Australia but is viewed as a ‘high-risk’ strategy. The ATO discourages investors from ‘placing all their eggs in one basket’ and building up too large a retirement fund with them.
In Australia, a leading mainstream bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has partnered with New York-based exchange Gemini Trust Company LLC to offer a crypto exchange and custody service through its mobile banking app. A trio of leading banks has instigated the first-ever blockchain product to be used in commercial banking in Australia demonstrating how implementing blockchain can create digital bank guarantees.
Defi in Australia
Australia’s financial and technical sectors are eagerly engaging in the assessment and analysis of Defi, with a number of high-profile projects in the Defi space. Australia is said to be at the forefront of DeFi-related projects.
Using bitcoin in Australia
Australia is very open to accepting Bitcoin payment in many retail and service sectors from dentistry to dining out! In fact, Melbourne is known to be a leading city in the use of bitcoin payments. In most cases, it is possible to buy vouchers with your currency that may then be indirectly used with participating outlets*.
Gifting bitcoin or crypto in Australia
You can’t avoid being eligible for tax on your coins by gifting them to someone, but there are concessions for gifting your asset to a recognized charity. However, cryptocurrencies are becoming a popular gift and any established and reliable crypto-exchange will be able to advise you on gifting your investment coin or coins to a third party. Other activities with your Bitcoin, such as lending it or gaining interest are also subject to income tax.
Australia and crypto-related scams
A wave of crypto-related scams – not to mention the worldwide price drops in cryptocurrencies – has led to increasing calls for more regulation on the growth of the crypto economy in Australia, more specifically in the area of consumer protection. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), confirmed has stated it wants to support the crypto industry but notes challenges with regulating such innovative technologies and it’s likely that Australia’s Labor Party will need to initiate some form of progressive crypto policy. The years of light-touch regulation and ambitious crypto advertising that have led to Australians investing heavily in crypto may need to be reigned in according to critics of the incumbent political party. This follows signs from the Australian Central bank that, as yet, it has no plans to initiate a CBDC for mass consumption in the same way that China has. The Australian Taxation Office ATO has also outlined crypto capital gains as a topic for reassessment.