Money & Banking

Taxmen conduct surveys at bitcoin exchanges

| | Updated on: Dec 13, 2017
FILE PHOTO: A copy of bitcoin standing on PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A copy of bitcoin standing on PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 17, 2014, in Washington, DC, shows bitcoin medals. 
Bitcoin makes its debut on a major exchange on December 10, 2017, a milestone for the digital currency that has some investors excited but others nervous. The Cboe Futures Exchange in Chicago will open trading in bitcoin futures at 2300 GMT on Sunday, a move that is expected to be followed a week later by a rival listing on Chicago Mercantile Exchange. / AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 17, 2014, in Washington, DC, shows bitcoin medals. Bitcoin makes its debut on a major exchange on December 10, 2017, a milestone for the digital currency that has some investors excited but others nervous. The Cboe Futures Exchange in Chicago will open trading in bitcoin futures at 2300 GMT on Sunday, a move that is expected to be followed a week later by a rival listing on Chicago Mercantile Exchange. / AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER

Aimed at assessing possible tax evasion by investors

A week after the Reserve Bank of India put out an advisory against investment in cryptocurrencies, the Income-Tax department on Wednesday conducted nationwide surveys on several players selling bitcoins in the country.

According to sources in the I-T department, visits were made to offices of several popular exchanges, including Unocoin, Coinsure and Zebpay, as a part of an exercise to collect evidence on the transactions being conducted through these firms.

“We are looking at possible tax evasion on the part of investors, the amount of transactions that is being carried out on these exchanges on a daily basis and the role of these platforms,” a source told BusinessLine .

Calls and emails from BusinessLine to some of these companies did not elicit any response.

Investors bullish However, the move by the tax authority did not dampen investors’ outlook towards bitcoins.

Vivek Sancheti, a Rajkot-based entrepreneur and a blockchain expert, said that the activity across the exchanges were as normal as ever and bitcoins were trading at a higher rate than in the US market at present.

Another investor, requesting anonymity, said that he would hold on to his investment till there is a clear guidance from the government.

While a few industry experts were of the view that that the I-T surveys were being done on apprehension that several tax-evaders might be parking their “black money” in such cryptocurrencies, others feel that it is just a regular excise by the revenue authorities.

‘Regular exercise’ Sanjay Mehta, CIO of Indian Angel Network and a cryptocurreny investor himself, told BusinessLine that “there is no way that anyone can make any illegal transaction on the exchanges as every investor has to submit KYC documents and also PAN and Aadhaar cards.”

Mehta further added that these raids could be a “regular exercise” and that it would have no impact on the cryptocurrency market since the prices are dictated globally.

“People who are investing in bitcoins are doing it through their bank accounts. Hence, most of them would be paying taxes I assume,” said another analyst.

While bitcoin is yet to be officially recognised in India, many developed countries, including the US and Japan, have made it legal.

Lately, the bitcoin frenzy has caught on in India too as its prices have been rising meteorically, touching $19,000 per bitcoin a few days back. It was trading at $17,416 a piece on Wednesday.

Published on January 09, 2018

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