Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading in New Zealand
New Zealand’s authorities have an increasingly positive outlook toward the crypto economy with exchange and VASP licensing laws and its central bank is trialing some form of CBDC. The country moves up from 41 to 39th place based on the positive stance of its financial institutions and a strong and growing blockchain community. Cryptocurrency is not highly regulated and the country has low figures on crypto ownership and transactions. The severe price drops of last year may have put off many potential investors in such an otherwise stable economy.
New Zealand is not a hub of crypto dynamism and any trading seems to be more about investing than spending or using to transact purchases. Regulation is light – apart from taxes – and there no real ambition to create a crypto hub in evidence.
Law and crypto trading in New ZealandLegal - existing crypto legislation
Crypto trading in New Zealand relies on guidance provided by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) which, broadly speaking, views the activity in the same way as it views traditional financial services. For example, cryptocurrency exchanges are subject to New Zealand’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. Overall regulation is light but with the usual requirements for identification and records for taxation.
If you want to trade bitcoin, there are a number of well-established crypto exchanges to choose from that make it easy and straightforward to buy, sell and invest in bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.Legal - forthcoming crypto legislation
Bitcoin is taking off worldwide and investing or trading in cryptocurrencies is legal in New Zealand. However the activity is not heavily regulated and legislation related to cryptocurrencies is always evolving.
Taxing cryptocurrencies in New Zealand
As with the UK and many other countries, there are no taxes on buying or holding cryptocurrencies in New Zealand. NZ treats digital assets such as bitcoin as a form of property, rather than currency, for tax purposes.
More encouragingly, if you plan to trade, New Zealand does not have a broad capital gains regime, which means that, generally, cryptoassets will be taxable only when you buy, trade or sell them for the purpose of gain. In this case any gain or loss you make needs to be recorded and declared. If you decide to trade more advanced crypto products, often the realm of the experienced investor, the tax you need to consider depends on the specific type of crypto product you are buying, so you may need specialist advice.
You’ll have some form of tax allowable expenses should you go in for mining bitcoin. On the question of losses through theft or negligence, there is a chance that you will be able to claim a loss if your crypto assets are stolen but only if they were eligible for tax when they were stolen. You’ll also need to show that they really have been stolen – not just mislaid or lost – and that they were trading stock. In these cases you can claim the loss in the year they were stolen – but as always keep records and details. Any reputable exchange should be able to help with these.
Tax when moving residency
As with any income, your bitcoin will come under the tax laws of the country you become legally resident. If you set up a business to trade bitcoin, that business will come under the tax laws of the country it operates from.
Tax on mining
Mining is highly technical and beyond the scope of most individuals, but it falls within standard New Zealand income tax laws. Cryptocurrency mining is considered to be an activity aimed at making a profit and tax is payable on gains you make from it. The expenses are huge in time and energy, so these are allowable against gains.
Crypto financial services in New Zealand
Digital assets can be used as part of your retirement fund in New Zealand and there are financial fund management bodies that are able to advise and help with your investment. The message from the establishment is just don’t get carried away.
Banks as yet do not offer custody services to facilitate the buying and selling of crypto – such services are growing amongst other countries, but are by no means widespread. There is increasing interest in crypto investing from consumers which may lead to banks offering such services in the future.
Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in New Zealand, but cryptocurrency exchanges, brokers, wallet providers, and businesses offering ICOs and investment opportunities are regulated in New Zealand because they are treated as financial services by New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA). Whilst there is interest from institutions in blockchain technology the adoption of DeFi is a long way off.
Using crypto in New Zealand
In addition to the locally available worldwide brands that accept crypto, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, etc., New Zealand has a growing and diverse number of services you can spend your bitcoin on. In most cases, it is possible to buy vouchers with your currency that may then be indirectly used with participating outlets.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid being eligible for tax on your crypto by gifting it to someone, but you can make tax-efficient gifts to a recognized charity. Making it a gift is considered a disposal, at market value, for tax purposes and you’ll have to record the exit of your cryptocurrency at market value on the date it was gifted.
Crypto regulation in New Zealand
Most reputable exchanges can help with these records. In the event of loss through breach of security, you may wish to check if your exchange has any insurance or protection against such circumstances.
Crypto is lightly regulated, apart from the legislation against money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, but identification is a prerequisite, along with the need to make formal tax declarations of your gains and trading details. Even if your exchange does not provide records, it is up to you to make sure you have a detailed transaction record of all your dealings.