The VAT Treatment of Cryptocurrencies in South Africa: Lessons From Australia
Keywords:Cryptocurrencies, Value-Added Tax (VAT) 89 of 1991, Australian legislative framework, VAT/GST purposes, financial services in South Africa, digital currencies, payment method
Cryptocurrencies are revolutionary digital currencies used by people on a peer to peer network. Cryptocurrencies are predominantly used as a payment method in business transactions. However, challenges arise with cryptocurrency borne transactions due to the lack of universal accepted classification of cryptocurrencies, the result of which leads to unintended tax consequences for cryptocurrency users. This article examines the recent amendment to the Value-Added Tax (VAT) 89 of 1991 pertaining specifically to the VAT treatment of cryptocurrencies in South Africa. Currently, transactions in cryptocurrencies are deemed to be financial services in South Africa. This means that a supply of any cryptocurrency in South Africa is exempt from VAT. This article makes a comparison with the Australian legislative framework to determine how cryptocurrencies are treated for VAT/GST purposes in that country. Although the move to regulate cryptocurrencies is welcomed, this article argues that cryptocurrency activities are incorrectly legislated as financial services in the VAT Act.