Indian Tax Authorities Visit Bitcoin Exchanges Across the Country

14 December, 2017, 12:58 | Author: Regina Silva
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Bitcoin's explosive growth in the past couple of days has grabbed the attention of Indian Income Tax Department, which carried out "surveys" at nine major bitcoin exchanges across the country on Wednesday in a major crackdown.

The survey, under section 133A of the Income Tax Act, is being conducted for "gathering evidence for establishing the identity of investors and traders, transaction undertaken by them, identity of counterparties, related bank accounts used, among others", they said.

It'll be interesting to see how India navigates this: as one of the largest developing and fast-growing economies in the world, other countries will likely look to it to learn how they should regulate, and maybe even tax cryptocurrency transactions within their borders.

The survey teams, sources said, were armed with various financial data and inputs about the working of these exchanges and this is the first big action against them in the country.

Bitcoin, though illegal in India, has jumped about 16-fold this year as investors continue to flock to this cryptocurrency as a safe investment option.

The income tax officials have reportedly sought information on the records maintained by the exchanges and earlier reports suggested that some tax evaders may be parking illicit money in Bitcoin.

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He further said that the creation of virtual currencies like Bitcoins as a medium of payments is not authorised by any central bank or monetary authority. "However, the operations are still on and final findings will emerge later".

The RBI had previously said those trading in virtual currencies were doing so at their own risk, given that the central bank had not given a licence or authorisation for any company to deal in such cryptocurrencies.

It's a finite virtual commodity with only 21 million Bitcoins existing, of which around 17 million have already been mined. Bitcoin hit another all-time peak on Tuesday, two days after the launch of the first ever bitcoin futures on a USA exchange as investors grew optimistic that the $20,000-mark is within reach.

"The government's position is clear, we don't recognize this as legal currency as of now", he said at the time.

Crypto-currency Bitcoin is in news for the past one week as it hit new highs nearly every day.

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