Cryptocurrency: how to report and pay the right amount of tax

HMRC wants to prevent tax underpayment by the 2.3m people in the UK now believed to have crypto holdings. You may be among them and want to be sure that you’re reporting properly and paying the right amount of tax. Or you could be thinking about investing in cryptocurrency and want to know what your obligations would be regarding reporting and paying tax.

GoSimpleTax explains the below in this guide: 

  • What cryptoassets and cryptocurrency are.
  • When cryptocurrency is subject to Capital Gains Tax.
  • When cryptocurrency is subject to Income Tax.
  • What records you need to keep for tax purposes.
  • How to report crypto gains or income.

What are cryptoassets/cryptocurrency?

HMRC defines cryptocurrency/cryptoassets as: “Cryptographically secured digital representations of value or contractual rights that can be transferred, stored and traded electronically.”

Chances are you’ve heard of Bitcoin, the world’s best-known and most widely held cryptocurrency. More than 60% of UK cryptocurrency investors have Bitcoin holdings, but other examples include Ether, Litecoin and Ripple.

Cryptocurrencies are digital assets, they’re not physical currency. You can’t buy things in the shops with them and they have no inherent value, they’re worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. A cryptotoken is a denomination of a particular cryptocurrency and they each have different values. As with other assets, cryptocurrency value can go up or down.

Cryptocurrency is bought and sold via secure peer-to-peer online networks or exchanges. According to HMRC, the tax treatment of cryptocurrency depends on its nature and use. Basically, if you’re given crypto or earn income from crypto trading, it can be subject to Income Tax. If you dispose of crypto by selling, exchanging or giving it away, it can be subject to Capital Gains Tax.

When is cryptocurrency subject to Capital Gains Tax?

Obviously, people invest in cryptocurrency hoping that its value will increase over time. If it does, you make a gain, that’s why Capital Gains Tax can be payable if you dispose of cryptocurrency tokens by:

  • selling them
  • exchanging them for other cryptoassets
  • using them to pay for good or services
  • giving them away (unless it’s to your spouse or partner) or
  • donating them to charity.

Your gain is the difference between how much you bought the crypto for (including any transaction fees) and sold it for. If someone gives you cryptocurrency tokens upon which you later need to pay tax, to work out your gain, you must find out their market value when they became yours.

How much Capital Gains Tax is payable on cryptocurrency?

After your total taxable gains go over the Capital Gains Tax tax-free allowance threshold – £12,300 for the 2021-22 tax year – you’ll be taxed as follows:

  • If you’re a basic rate Income Tax payer (ie with taxable earnings of  £12,571-£50,270 a year) you’ll pay Capital Gains Tax of 10%, then  20% on gains that take you above £50,270 in taxable earnings.
  • If you’re a higher or additional rate Income Tax payer (ie with taxable earnings of more than £50,270 a year) you’ll pay 20% CGT on your crypto gains over and above the CGT threshold.

To find out whether Capital Gains Tax is payable after selling cryptocurrency, you need to calculate your gain for each transaction.

Some allowable expenses are deductable for Capital Gains Tax, including (according to HMRC):

  • “transaction fees paid before the transaction is added to a blockchain”
  • “advertising for a buyer or seller”
  • “drawing up a contract for the transaction”
  • “making a valuation so you can work out your gain for that transaction”
  • “a proportion of the pooled cost of your tokens when working out your gain”.

Need to know!

  • Capital Gains Tax is obviously not due on crypto losses, but you can use these to reduce other crypto gains and any tax liability, providing you first report them to HMRC. Losses aren’t capped.

How to report and pay Capital Gains Tax on cryptocurrency

To report and pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on cryptocurrency you can either complete a Self Assessment tax return following the end of the tax year or use the real-time Capital Gains Tax service to report and pay straight away.

You must keep separate records for each cryptocurrency transaction detailing:

  • token type
  • disposal date
  • number of tokens disposed of
  • tokens remaining
  • value of the tokens in pound sterling
  • bank statements and wallet addresses
  • pooled costs before and after you disposed of them.

Need to know!

  • HMRC can ask to inspect your cryptocurrency records if it decides to carry out a compliance check.

When is Income Tax rather than CGT payable on cryptocurrency?

Income Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) can be payable on cryptocurrency if your employer gives you them as a non-cash bonus or benefit (this could apply to those who mix employment with self-employment). If you need to pay Income Tax on income from crypto for this or other reasons, you’ll need to register for Self Assessment, if you’re not already registered.

If you occasionally dabble in crypto, you’ll probably only have to pay Capital Gains Tax on disposal. However, if you trade regularly, HMRC will consider you to be a crypto trader and you’ll need to report your income via Self Assessment and pay any Income Tax and National Insurance that’s due.

If you’ve paid Income Tax on crypto, Capital Gains Tax isn’t payable unless you later dispose of your tokens, when CGT will be due on the gain made since you reported for Income Tax.

Many cryptoassets are traded on exchanges that don’t use pounds sterling. If so, the value of any gain or loss must be converted into pounds sterling when you’re completing your Self-Assessment tax return. You’ll need to use supplementary page SA108 to detail crypto capital gains/income and losses claimed within your SA100 tax return.

Need to know!

  • Fail to report cryptocurrency gains or income to HMRC and it can lead to penalties, while you’ll still have to pay tax you owe plus interest.

More information

Visit government website GOV.uk to download HMRC’s Cryptoassets Manual. It sets out the tax rules for both individuals and businesses that invest in cryptocurrency.

HMRC wants to prevent tax underpayment by the 2.3m people in the UK now believed to have crypto holdings. You may be among them and want to be sure that you’re reporting properly and paying the right amount of tax. Or you could be thinking about investing in cryptocurrency and want to know what your obligations would be regarding reporting and paying tax.

                             

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