Bitcoin appears to be gaining increasing regulatory acceptance in some parts of the world. In Australia, for example, the Government recently introduced legislation to ensure that virtual currencies operate on an even tax playing field with “physical” money. Treasurer Scott Morrison hopes that the legislation will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia, and some offshore financial centers are already vying to become leading jurisdictions in FinTech expertise.
On the other hand, regulators and tax authorities in other parts of the world seem deeply suspicious of virtual currencies, given the anonymity they provide to users. A notable example is the United States, where the Internal Revenue Service obtained a court order in December 2016 compelling bitcoin exchange Coinbase to produce records identifying US taxpayers who have used its services.
Indeed, there are some who believe that sooner or … Read More »
Although Hong Kong’s liberal economic system is regularly praised here, this Special Administrative Region of China, as it is officially known, has not been shown in the best of lights on the world’s television screens over recent weeks as the authorities, both in the SAR and in Beijing, struggle to square China’s One Party mode of government with the democratic demands of Hong Kong’s citizens. Another worrying, but little-reported development came in the form of figures from the Inland Revenue Department last week, which showed tax revenue growth slowing to a virtual standstill thanks to lacklustre economic growth in 2013/14. So, Hong Kong could do with a timely boost, and perhaps it has just got two: the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme, which will allow eligible Mainland investors to trade stocks listed on the Stock Exchange of … Read More »
It’s not easy to find positives where Greece is concerned, but this benighted country, which could be teetering on the brink of economic oblivion once again, came out surprisingly well in a recent report on the taxation of ICT goods and services – computers, cell phones, tablets, internet access and an array of other digitally-delivered services – around the world. While other industries continue to contribute more taxes to help pull Greece out of its fiscal Slough of Despond, the ICT sector is getting away rather lightly according to the report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which found that Greece is the only OECD country to feature in the top-20 of its league table, with an overall tax and tariff burden of less than 10 percent. Tragically, but at the same time unsurprisingly, the countries with the highest … Read More »
In Russia, they dream in winter; but in Greece they dream in summer. Because it’s too cold in the first case, and I suppose because it’s too hot in the second. At all events, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is promising to reduce all types of tax over the next few years, and predicts EUR55bn of incoming investment over the same period. There are a few inconvenient factlets standing in his way, however, and we won’t even consider the fractured state of Greek politics. First, GDP has shrunk by more than 25 percent since recession hit in 2008, and continued to fall in the first quarter of 2014; second, the unemployment rate increased in the first quarter of 2014 to about 27 percent, and in the 15 – 24 year age group is running at 57 percent; third, Greece has been … Read More »
“Fog On The River Plate: Argentina Cut Off!” That’s how it must seem to tormented Argentine consumers, who are gradually being incarcerated behind an impenetrable wall of fiscal constraints which effectively prevent them from dealing with the outside world. The rules governing e-commerce importations are so strict and bureaucratic that such imports will cease, to all intents and purposes. Argentinians are used to getting around their government’s pettifogging restrictions, yet even so, this is a Draconian and illiberal measure, which the government has been driven to by its own profligate incompetence. No doubt digital imports, which cannot be taxed at all, will substitute in some respects: no-one will buy a CD from the outside world any more; instead they will download the digital version of the album direct from i-Tunes or wherever, using a tablet bought duty-free on a trip … Read More »
Singapore has issued some quite sensible guidance on tax aspects of bitcoin transactions, which suggests that there must be a fair amount of bitcoin activity there. The first Asian bitcoin conference was held in Singapore last year, at any rate. Bitcoins join Uzbekhistan on the list of subjects on which I am passing ignorant. I keep trying and failing to understand the phenomenon of bitcoins. Theoretically one should be in favor of a virtual currency with, so to speak, monetary limits (unlike existing national paper currencies, which are being inflated out of sight by central banks who want to keep interest rates low), but I question the usefulness of a currency which by definition can never exist in large quantities. On the other hand, other, similar currencies could exist in large numbers. If there is a bitcoin, why shouldn’t there … Read More »
I am trying to get my head around the announcement from Argentina that it will increase taxes on luxury goods “in order to make more money available for imports that will improve domestic output.” OK, so the Government will have more money, and the people who buy expensive toys will have less money. How is that going to increase “useful” imports? It must have to do in some obscure way with the fact that the peso (at its official rate) is grossly over-valued against the dollar and inflation is far higher than the Government admits. It won’t work, anyway: Argentines have had decades of practice at getting around official currency restrictions imposed by spendthrift governments, and are famously inventive at it. One good thing the Government did this week, at least, was to open negotiations with Repsol over compensation for … Read More »