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New Delhi: The goods and services (GST) council is mulling a 28 per cent tax on the crypto assets or the virtual digital assets (VDAs), which will be at par with the GST applicable on casinos, betting and lottery.

According to the media reports, services such as crypto mining, with sales and purchases, are likely to attract the 28 per cent GST if the proposal is presented and approved in the next GST council meeting. The meeting’s date is not finalized yet.

However, the buzz wreaked havoc on the crypto community, which is already feeling the heat of 30 per cent taxations and 1 per cent TDS applicable from July 1.

The flabbergasted industry participants argue that cryptocurrencies are an asset class with varied use cases across industries and are not akin to gambling or lottery. They have their fundamentals and aesthetics, they add.

Aritra Sarkhel, Director, Public Policy at WazirX, said that the latest movement of the crypto market is mirroring the financial markets across the globe. “The industry is open to dialogue with the larger GST council on such matters,” he added.

It will be great if deliberations are made to keep the taxation on VDAs in line with India’s treatment of other financial instruments and/or evaluate the different use cases of the tokens while making decisions on crypto taxation, he said.

Market experts fear that large trade volumes will move to international or decentralised exchanges outside the purview of the government with tax evasion becoming a larger issue.

They fear that crypto and blockchain-based companies will treat this on par with a ban and move to favourable locations like Dubai and Singapore. India might miss out on all the benefits of the crypto disruption, they cautioned.

Vikram Subburaj, CEO, Giottus Crypto Exchange urged the Government to give clarity on such speculations, adding that investors are pushed to the brink in the country.

“28 per cent GST on investment assets would push a lot of people into non-compliance,” he added. This along with a 30% tax on the profits means Indian investors will be unable to recover much from this asset class overall.

Industry players, particularly the exchanges and trading platforms are worried over the nosediving volumes in the crypto space. The volatility and steep correction in the virtual token mart have added more pain to the already ailing industry.

The 28 per cent GST would further dent the volumes of Indian crypto exchanges, fear Mohammed Roshan, CEO & Co-founder at GoSats.

“Since exchanges charge anywhere between 0.2-1% as trading fees, the average user is not much affected with a 28% GST on this fee,” he added. “However it sends a working signal to the wider crypto community.”

Recently, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flagged ‘anonymity’ as an ‘inherent risk’ in blockchain technology, but also added that the government supports the use of the same.

Hitesh Malviya, Founder, IBC Capital, said that it is a forceful approach of the Indian government to kill the crypto economy in India, which might strangle the trillion-dollar opportunity in the near future.

“Blockchain tech is among the rapidly emerging technologies, with a potential to define the future of the internet,” he added. “By imposing such demonic taxes, India is putting a full stop to its growth.”


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