Decoding the Crypto Conundrum: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Taxing Cryptocurrency in India

  • Jai Ganesh
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  • Jai Ganesh

    Advocate at Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, India

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Cryptocurrency trading gained prominence in India during the COVID lockdown, with current transactions now reaching an impressive $250 billion, second only to the USA. Nevertheless, the government has yet to establish a comprehensive mechanism for taxing and maintaining regulatory oversight over cryptocurrency. Initially, the central government was enthusiastic about prohibiting cryptocurrency in 2021, going so far as to draft a bill for that purpose. However, the central government swiftly recognized the inadequacy of this idea. This realization, combined with the Supreme Court's annulment of the RBI circular banning cryptocurrency in March 2020, brought an end to the initiative. Moreover, on March 7, 2023, the Central government instituted a flat tax of 30% on cryptocurrency through the introduction of Section 115 BBH in the Income Tax Act, 1963. This action indirectly—though not officially—acknowledged cryptocurrency transactions in India. Consequently, the Income Tax Authority is now legally empowered to levy taxes on cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, the RBI governor, as of January 2023, emphatically asserted the imperative of banning cryptocurrency due to its perceived threat to the financial stability of the country. The government's exclusive focus on levying taxes on cryptocurrency, without considering the potential for individuals to incur losses and still be obligated to pay taxes, alongside restrictions on the carry forward of losses, has resulted in more complications than it ostensibly aims to resolve. The absence of clarification regarding whether cryptocurrency is classified as a security, income, asset, legal tender, etc., has led to a lack of SEBI oversight. Consequently, conflicting ideas and approaches on cryptocurrency persist among the government, RBI, SEBI, and IT department. Therefore, there arises a necessity to draw insights from countries where cryptocurrency transactions are widespread, comprehend their regulatory and tax frameworks, and formulate a bespoke approach for India to regulate and tax cryptocurrency.


Research Paper


International Journal of Legal Science and Innovation, Volume 6, Issue 3, Page 378 - 393


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