Beskattning av Bitcoin i ljuset av likformighetsprincipen
Sammanfattning: This paper examines how financial products are classified within the capital gains bracket and which tax differences follow from such classification. Based on practice and the methodology of the Income tax act, the paper describes how a divestment of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin should be classified and taxed. The result is thereafter analyzed from the perspective of the principle of uniformity and other objectives of the tax system, such as simplicity and predictability. The cryptocurrency Bitcoin was introduced in 2008 as an alternative to the traditional Fiat currencies, with the purpose of decreasing transactional costs and increase payment security. Although the primary goal of Bitcoin is to function as money, cryptocurrencies are also the subject of speculation for investors. For many, the last years’ rapid value increase has led to large economic gains. For others, the equally rapid decreases have led to large losses. Hence, the question of how capital gains and losses from trading with Bitcoin should be taxed has been brought to light. The regulation for the Swedish capital gains taxation were established together with the tax reform of 1990. Some of the overarching goals of the reform were to make the taxation system simpler and fairer, as well as making taxation uniform across the same levels of income. As a mean of reaching this goal, all capital gains were gathered under the income type “capital”, with a uniform tax rate of 30 percent. Since the realization principle enables the creation of so-called interest-free tax credits, the legislator diverted from the principle of uniformity by creating differences in the taxation of same assets; such as tax deductions for shares, bonds and “other assets”. The differentiation was founded on the basis of risk, and the difficulty with which the product is controlled in terms of trade. Least favorable is the taxation of “other assets” in chapter 52 of the Income tax act. Assets that may not be classified as shares or bonds are taxed in that category. Ultimately, for a product to be classified as a share, value fluctuations have to be based on the economic performance of the issuing company. Since Bitcoin is not issued by a company, and the value is solely based on market supply and demand, Bitcoin should not be classified as a share for the sake of taxation. Neither can Bitcoin be classified as a foreign currency which is taxed according to the rules of bonds, since the cryptocurrency does not meet any of the main definitions of legal tender according to economic theory nor legislation. Hence, a divestment should be taxed according to the rules of “other assets” in chapter 52. Lastly, my interpretation is taxation of Bitcoin and other financial products does not meet the requirements of uniformity. The different treatment of financial products could, according to me, not be justified through reasons of tax credit, nor based on the difficulty of controlling the trade of Bitcoin. The valuation of Bitcoin cannot be deemed predictable, and the creation of tax credits should not be seen as more likely through investments in Bitcoin in comparison to other investments in currency products. Neither should control difficulties for the Swedish tax agency create the basis for an argument of limited right of deduction of capital losses.
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