Australian tax alert: GST and Bitcoin — potential pitfalls

Bitcoin has received a lot of recent press attention, both as a speculative investment and as an alternative payment option to fiat currency. The anonymous nature of Bitcoin payments has also caught the attention of tax authorities and other regulators, both in Australia and overseas.

One issue that has received little attention is the goods and services tax (GST) treatment of Bitcoin transactions that occur within Australia. As discussed below, Bitcoins may not qualify as ‘money’ for GST purposes. As a result, some Bitcoin payments or trades conducted within Australia could attract GST (which is not generally the case for transactions involving fiat currency).

These issues are particularly relevant for GST registered entities that may accept Bitcoin payments. After receiving such payments, an entity will likely either…

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