PwC ranks countries according to the clarity and comprehensiveness of their crypto tax laws. Liechtenstein came out on top. 

Liechtenstein came again out on top of PwC’s tax guidance for cryptocurrencies. The accounting firm compares countries in terms of the clarity and comprehensiveness of their crypto tax laws.

Australia and Malta shared the second rank, followed by Germany, which improved from rank 20 last year. The improvement is partly because Germany has issued a draft decree on the income tax treatment of digital assets. Switzerland ranked sixth, the US 14th.

PwC Crypto Tax Index

PwC awards each jurisdiction a score based on 19 different criteria. The goal is not to say which country has the “best” tax regime – or the lowest taxes – but where tax laws are clear and provide legal security. The result is the PwC Crypto Tax Index.

According to PwC, most countries apply existing laws or policies to cryptocurrency transactions instead of passing new legislation. Liechtenstein has gone a different route with its Blockchain Act.

Most tax regulators focus on the capital gains obtained from buying and selling cryptocurrency assets, mining income, and value-added tax (VAT) that arises from trading. On the other hand, concepts like airdrops, hardforks, staking income, and cryptocurrency funds are not the focus of most jurisdictions’ tax laws.

Also, PwC says many countries’ tax laws are struggling to keep up with new developments such as DeFi, especially crypto borrowing and lending, or NFTs. Peter Brewin, a tax partner at PwC Hong Kong, says this is “a fast-moving sector, and there are important areas with gaps in guidance issued. […] In particular, guidance is lacking for common DeFi transactions, NFTs and how to even start assessing the taxation of Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs).”

Outlook

Global regulators are increasingly aware of the potential of cryptocurrencies and make an increased effort to regulate and tax them. The PwC report says that as countries such as the US, Sweden, and the UK rolled out tax guidance on cryptocurrencies, more countries have followed suit.

There is still a lack of regulations in many countries, creating grey zones and a lack of legal certainty. However, according to Peter Brewin, that is changing quickly “Tax authorities and policymakers are still learning how much of the industry works. We expect the rate of change in the tax landscape to be as fast as it is for the crypto industry over the coming years,” he says.

The report explains that most jurisdictions view cryptocurrencies as a form of property. Hence, spending cryptocurrencies to acquire goods and services results in tax charges. Applying this model to cryptocurrencies limits and hinders the mass adoption of many crypto assets as payment methods.

Nevertheless, Liechtenstein coming out on top of the ranking again is a good sign moving forward. The administration has put much effort into making Liechtenstein a crypto-friendly place and laws that provide legal certainty, including tax laws, are an important part of that. This legal certainty, among other things, attracts international crypto businesses to Liechtenstein.

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