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Can I trade Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Austria?
Introduction to Bitcoin and crypto trading in Austria
Austria is a ‘steady as she goes’ crypto-friendly country, content not to lead or innovate in the crypto sphere but let others make the running. That said, the establishment has a positive outlook towards crypto and the country registers a very high Google crypto search score for its population – obviously a nation of crypto voyeurs. Austria’s number of Bitcoin nodes is higher than average for a country of its size and it also has a high number of ATMs, which gives it its relatively high score in the Coincub crypto ranking.
On the way is a clearer tax strategy as the country means to adopt a similar treatment of crypto trading as that applied to more mainstream asset trading such as shares. Taxing crypto is not a negative in the Coincub crypto ranking, on the contrary, any moves to make crypto trading clearer, safer – and, yes, even more taxable – creates confidence in the crypto economy. A more cohesive tax policy adds credibility to crypto activity, rather than leaving it outside the system.
On the other hand, a tax is still a tax, and this being the case, Austria will slap a 27.5% capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, a move scheduled to start about the time of writing this assessment. The move is not in isolation, but rather part of a wider tax overhaul and ahead of the other EU countries. Rather than saying the tax is a revenue generator, the Finance Ministry reports that it is simply a way of bringing crypto trading into line with other investing – which seems to bear out our point about credibility in the previous paragraph.
The tax only applies when crypto is sold and complements an existing tax on tax on crypto held for under a year. There is also a means of compensation against losses and leveling the crypto playing field in this way should offer investors similar protection and obligations as to trading in mainstream shares. Source: https://koinly.io/guides/crypto-tax-austria/Austria moves up slightly in our ranking guide thanks to its movement on clarification and steady acceptance of the need to accommodate crypto rather than leave it to others.
Bitcoin and crypto trading laws in Austria
Surprisingly, there have been no specific cryptocurrency laws brought to bear, but that does not mean crypto is given free rein. Much depends on the definitions of cryptocurrencies. Crypto is not treated as a currency or as a financial instrument but as a commodity. The operation of crypto service providers comes within the licensing requirements of the Austrian Banking Act and several other Acts and EU prospectuses. The Austrian Financial Markets Authority (FMA) does urge caution to consumers (don’t they all?) but does not regulate or supervise crypto to any great extent, rather relying on the same regulatory framework to cover crypto services like those which apply to traditional products and services. Innovative business models involving crypto are subject to licensing requirements from a whole raft of regulatory bodies within the FinTech sector.
Paying tax on my Bitcoin trading in Austria
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are not recognized as an official currency or financial instrument but with regard to income tax assessment, any resulting income from them is calculated at the applicable rate. As a private individual holding crypto, the income tax treatment depends on whether they are interest-bearing or not. If your cryptocurrency bears interest, as when it is lent to other individuals or companies that are trading cryptocurrency, then it will be assessed as ‘interest-bearing’ and taxed at a special rate of 27.5%. If there is no interest-bearing investment, the selling or exchange of crypto assets is deemed taxable as a speculative transaction if the period between acquisition and disposal is less than a year.
For individuals holding cryptocurrencies – as non-business assets – any gains from converting your crypto into a fiat currency – or other cryptocurrencies – are tax-free but only if those gains are realized after a one-year speculation period. They are taxable if realized within a year, however, a tax-exempt amount of €440 per annum applies. The exchange of legal currency or tender for cryptocurrency or vice versa is exempt from VAT in line with EU directives on the subject.
Bitcoin retirement investing in Austria
Cryptocurrency is a big investment play among an increasing amount of the population. All leading investment banks are facilitating investments in crypto to their clients. That said, crypto is still viewed as volatile and unpredictable for many organizations offering long-term financial planning so it is likely that any investment plan would carry higher fees due to the higher risks involved.
Austria’s financial outlook on Bitcoin and the crypto economy
Taking its lead from the government’s openness to FinTech, the potential for blockchain and its fields of application are being actively pursued. FinTech start-ups and financial institutions are using blockchain technology within decentralized finance applications. This includes crypto trading exchanges, mining, wallets, custody, payment services, and through activities such as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Blockchain is being explored for its potential within other applications too, as in the development of digital tokens for interbank or intercompany transactions. The Erste Group, a leading bank, and the infrastructure company, ASFINAG, created the first capital market issuance in Europe, some 20 million euros, to take place using exclusively blockchain technology. The Vienna Stock Exchange was also the world’s third officially regulated market to enable the Bitcoin and Ethereum products (of a Swiss company) to be traded. All in all, Austria is a blockchain advocate.
Austria and Defi
Blockchain is the technology that many governments are keen to promote, for fear of missing out on the advances being made and Austria is keen to keep ahead of the curve. With this in mind, Austria is proving to be something of a haven for providers of blockchain-based products and cryptocurrencies. The government’s early take-up in blockchain innovations has led to serious efforts to create the right frameworks for this technology to flourish. Currently, for example, great effort is being made within the public and private sectors to boost Austria’s business center credentials. The newly established Austrian Public Service Blockchain is operated by the Federal Computing Centre and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration- to name but a few. There is also a private blockchain infrastructure for companies currently operating with blockchain tech. The question of decentralized finance Defi replacing the traditional financial system is a long way off – as is the case in nearly all countries.
Bitcoin security, transparency, and compliance in Austria
Crypto services are subject to anti-money laundering (AML) requirements including the fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive and apply to custodian wallet providers and providers of exchange services between virtual currencies and fiat currencies. These include the widely known and accepted Know Your Customer KYC checks and AML prevention systems. Despite appearing to have a light regulatory touch, there are plenty of compliance requirements for crypto service providers. However, when it comes to the security track record of an exchange or wallet, its levels of customer service, its fees, and the overall services it offers, it’s best to do some serious homework and find the one that suits you. Service providers vary widely in their levels of operation.
Spending Bitcoin in Austria
Spending bitcoin in stores hasn’t really taken off in Austria, but you will find some leading outlets in Vienna. There are, however, plenty of services that provide the means to convert and spend your crypto on products and services, such as using gift cards. You can also spend in a vast number of outlets using payment service apps dedicated to cryptocurrency holders, in much the same way as credit and debit cards. One such leading crypto payment service, A1, sees this as an inevitable route toward a cashless society. Using these means opens up the whole gamut of goodies, especially in tech-friendly outlets.
Crypto regulation in Austria
Thinking of mining crypto? It’s a highly technical and expensive activity at the best of times, involving powerful computers – and lots of energy – but every time Bitcoin hits a record price, mining suddenly becomes fashionable.
The costs in time and money are high and in Austria the activity of ‘creating crypto assets’ is viewed as a commercial activity that carries the corresponding tax implications. The creation of crypto assets is therefore not treated differently from the production of any other economic goods but having said that, bitcoin mining is not subject to VAT.
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