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Tax and Crypto Assets in South Africa

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Understanding the Taxation of Crypto Assets in South Africa

Cryptocurrency has gained significant popularity in recent years, and as its use grows, so does the need to understand its tax implications. If you're a cryptocurrency holder in South Africa, you might be wondering how crypto is taxed, whether it falls under capital gains or income tax, the tax rates involved, and if any VAT is applicable. In this blog, we'll provide an overview of the tax treatment of crypto assets in South Africa.

Is crypto taxed in South Africa?

Yes, cryptocurrency is subject to taxation in South Africa. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) considers cryptocurrencies as intangible assets, and any income or gains derived from them are subject to taxation.

Capital gains tax or income tax on crypto?

Determining whether you should pay capital gains tax or income tax on your crypto activities depends on the nature and frequency of your crypto transactions. SARS treats cryptocurrencies as assets, and the tax treatment will depend on whether you are an investor or a trader.

Capital gains tax (CGT): If you are an investor who buys and holds cryptocurrencies as a long-term investment, any profits made upon disposal will be subject to capital gains tax. The capital gain is calculated by subtracting the base cost (acquisition price plus any associated costs) from the selling price.

Income tax: If you actively trade cryptocurrencies, engaging in frequent buying and selling or using crypto for business purposes, SARS may view your activities as trading rather than investing. In this case, your profits will be treated as ordinary income and subject to income tax. Factors considered include the volume, frequency, and intention behind your transactions.

How much tax do I pay for crypto?

The tax rate you pay for crypto depends on your income or capital gains bracket. South Africa uses a progressive tax system, where higher income or gains are taxed at higher rates. As of the current tax year, the marginal tax rates for individuals range from 18% to 45%. The tax rate applicable to your crypto activities will be determined based on your overall taxable income.

You can use Tax Calculators to calculate your taxable income for your specific scenario.

It's important to note that SARS allows certain exclusions and deductions for crypto-related expenses. Expenses incurred for the purpose of generating income from cryptocurrency transactions, such as transaction fees, may be deductible when calculating your taxable income or capital gains.

VAT on crypto assets in South Africa:

Value-added tax (VAT) is not applicable to the buying, selling, or holding of cryptocurrencies in South Africa. In 2018, SARS clarified that cryptocurrencies are not considered a currency for VAT purposes. However, it's worth noting that other services related to cryptocurrencies, such as mining or providing exchange platforms, may be subject to VAT.

When it comes to taxation, cryptocurrencies are not exempt in South Africa. Depending on your activities, you may be subject to either capital gains tax or income tax. It's crucial to keep accurate records of your crypto transactions and consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with SARS regulations. Remember to consider the applicable tax rates based on your income or gains, and be aware that VAT does not apply to the buying, selling, or holding of cryptocurrencies themselves. Stay informed and proactive in fulfilling your tax obligations to avoid any potential penalties or legal issues.

Published: 27 June 2023Trading of crypto assets is subject to the general principles of South African tax law and taxed accordingly. In simple terms, if crypto is traded for the purpose of making short-term trading profits, it will be considered part of a taxpayer's income. On the other hand, if it is held for capital appreciation purposes, it will be considered part of capital gains tax (CGT).
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