Bitcoin in the UK: HMRC suggests bitcoins are ‘taxable vouchers’

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Bitcoin in the UK: HMRC suggests bitcoins are ‘taxable vouchers’

As Tom Gullen described on his blog, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) seems to be classifying bitcoins as vouchers, which means VAT would be due on any sales. A 20% mark-up on bitcoin prices would make UK exchanges untenable. In addition to Gullen’s statement, an independent source told us that HMRC had given them the same classification. We also spoke to Dr Tom Robinson of the UK-based bitcoin exchange BitPrice and consulting firm Blockchain Consulting, who recently attended the Financial Innovators Summit at 10 Downing Street. At the time, it was said that he “left the meeting feeling largely optimistic”. However, his subsequent communications yielded the following statement from HMRC: “Our Policy teams’ view is that these are not currency. It is our view that the provision of bitcoins is the sale of vouchers. These arelikely to be ‘single purpose’ vouchers.

United Kingdom Flaf

Robinson said: “This is obviously an entirely inappropriate classification for
bitcoin: they aren’t issued by anyone, they don’t have a ‘face value’
and they can be redeemed for a wide range of goods and services.”

Robinson also posted to reddit, saying: “We do now have a commitment from the Treasury that they will seriously consider how bitcoin might achieve official recognition in the UK. In doing this the government is seeking input from bitcoin businesses.” Any businesses that want to submit a comment should do so through this link. HMRC told CoinDesk that “There is a VAT exemption for currency transactions but the currency in question must be legal tender. We will of course listen to arguments for alternative VAT treatments under existing VAT law.

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