Virtual gaming money, meaning hedqvist bitcoin mining-game currencies, particularly in online games, is not exempt, because it does not constitute a means of payment within the meaning of VAT law. The German VAT Application Decree was amended accordingly. 1, 2010, Bundessteuerblatt I at 846, as amended, 4.
The Federal Ministry of Finance also addressed several follow-up questions. With regard to digital wallets, the Federal Ministry of Finance determined that if they are offered for a fee, they qualify as other services supplied by electronic means which are taxable and liable to taxation if the place of performance is in Germany. Digital wallets are saved on a computer, tablet, or smartphone and are used to store virtual currencies—for example, a smartphone app which is downloaded from an app store. Finally, the Ministry of Finance stated that operators of trading platforms who offer their websites as online trading platforms to purchase or trade bitcoin or other virtual currencies only enable the IT technical processing, which is not exempt from VAT. However, if the operators of such platforms buy and sell bitcoin and other virtual currencies as intermediaries in their own name, they may be exempt from VAT. On 22 October 2015 the Court of Justice of the European Union gave its judgment in the case of Skatteverget v David Hedqvist relating to the VAT treatment of bitcoin.
He had received a favourable ruling from the Swedish Revenue Law Commission that these transactions were exempt from VAT, which the Swedish tax authority, the Skatteverket, had appealed against. The Swedish courts had referred the dispute to the CJEU for determination. The CJEU’s decision is that such transactions are exempt from VAT. It is also clear from the judgment that this is on the basis that bitcoin is to be treated as a currency for these purposes, and not, for example, as an instrument that is a right to money. If sales or exchanges of bitcoin were subject to VAT, this would put transactions in bitcoin at a severe disadvantage compared to traditional currencies. The CJEU ruling therefore removes a major potential hurdle to the development of bitcoin trading.
By providing greater certainty to the position, and, through its reasoning, by giving greater recognition to bitcoin as a currency, it potentially paves the way for wider adoption. The decision does not, however, resolve the VAT treatment of bitcoin mining, i. Again, the stance in the UK has been that no VAT is payable in respect of this, but the reasoning behind this depends upon factors that were not within the scope of the issues determined by the CJEU. This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation. OCV is a Swiss verein and doesn’t provide services to clients. The OCV member firms are all separate legal entities and have no authority to obligate or bind each other or OCV with regard to third parties. Find out more here, including how to change your cookie settings.
If you continue to browse on this site, we’ll assume you’re OK to proceed. In a landmark decision, the European Court of Justice held that bitcoin virtual currency transactions are VAT exempt as they are treated like real currency. This a guest post by my tax colleagues, Giovanni Iaselli and Alberto Sandalo. What is bitcoin under a tax perspective?