In the Face of the outbreak of the cryptomonnaies, the tax administration to the lookout

Faced with the development of cryptomonnaies, Bercy warns against any attempt of tax fraud (Photo Justin TALLIS. AFP)

The development of bitcoin and other virtual currencies does it tax evasion? No, ensures Bercy, which warns against any attempt of fraud. It is up to the users to be aware of the rules particularly complex.

How is taxed the bitcoin?

According to the general Directorate of public finances (DGFIP), the fact to have a cryptomonnaie is not taxable; it is the fact to convert this cryptomonnaie in national currency, that is to say, in some sort of resell, that “the fiscalise”.

“Concretely, this means that someone who would make capital gains, as you do on your life insurance or on the sale of a property” should “declare” and is therefore “taxed”, recalled in mid-December the minister of the public Accounts Gérald Darmanin.

What is the scale in force?

The gains made thanks to 1.469 cryptomonnaies currently identified are not considered to be income from movable property, in contrast for example to the capital gains on the shares. Thus, they are not subject to the so-called “flat tax” of 30%, in force since 1 January.

These gains, however, are subject to the generalized social Contribution (CSG), currently 17.2%. They are also subject to income tax (IR), whose rate can go up to 45%, in the case of the wealthiest taxpayers.

Two cases, concerning the IR, are provided. If the activity is occasional, the holder of bitcoins is subject to the tax treatment of benefits non-commercial (BNC). If it is habitual, it is subject to the regime of industrial and commercial profits (BIC (PA:BICP)).

“In both cases, the invoice can be salty,” with “a tax rate of around 60%”, says Eric Delannoy, president of the firm, Tenzing, who recalls that the rules are “default rules”, which allow us to “submit to the gains in taxes to very high.

Are there any grey areas?

“A lot of the details have been provided by the administration. But the subject is complex, even for experts”, because of the multiple regimes and existing tax deductions, writes Gaëlle Menu-Lejeune, tax lawyer at the firm Fidal.

Many specificities exist, with rules that are sometimes unclear (for example in the case of an exchange of cryptomonnaies between them), sometimes technical (in the case of a transfer of a portfolio of cryptomonnaie, which can also lead to taxation).

Additionally, users can be confronted with practical difficulties. It is to them, in fact, that he returns to calculate the realized gains, the platforms do not usually providing that information. “This can be a source of confusion”, said Ms. Menu-Lejeune.

What are the risks to the taxpayers?

In view of the complexity of the rules, some might be tempted not to declare their earnings. But such an attitude “would be very risky”, says Eric Delannoy, who recalls that “the whole history of transactions in bitcoin is traceable”.

“If the declaration was not made, there would be an intervention of the administration” and a “tax adjustment, obviously, the height of the fraud”, has also warned Mr Darmanin.

And in the case of a mistake in good faith? “The errors that would be derived from new practices will not be punished”, if the good faith is proved, points out the DGFIP, which invites taxpayers to “get closer to their centre of public finance to ask the question and ensure that they are in good standing.”

And what are the risks for the administration?

For Nicolas Houy, in charge of research at CNRS and a specialist of bitcoin, the rise of virtual currencies does not pose any particular risk in terms of fraud and tax evasion. “The bitcoin drags with him an image sulfurous. But in reality, defraud with the bitcoin is very complicated, with everything being computerized and recorded”, he says.

This is a view shared by Eric Delannoy. “When a transaction is performed, the value is deposited into a bank account. However, the banking institutions are subject to very strict rules concerning the origin of the funds”, says the consultant.

For the DGFIP, the cryptomonnaies may indeed constitute the “media vulnerable in terms of cyber-crime”. But “the price volatility and the risk of hacking” expose virtual currencies “significant risk”, “which effectively limits their use to the fraudsters who have large volumes to emigrate or to launder”.

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