Original Research

An investigation into the output tax consequences of bitcoin transactions for a South African value-added tax vendor

Cecileen Greeff
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 22, No 1 | a2162 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v22i1.2162 | © 2019 Cecileen Greeff | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2017 | Published: 25 April 2019


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Abstract

Background: The use of bitcoin in South Africa is fairly new, but has increased as several online retailers now accept bitcoin as a means of payment. The South African Revenue Service has released a media statement regarding the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoin), but policy regarding the value-added tax (VAT) treatment of cryptocurrencies is still pending.

Aim: The objective of the study is to determine the output tax consequences for a South African VAT vendor who receives bitcoins in exchange for the supply of goods or services that are subject to VAT, and when the same South African VAT vendor exchanges the bitcoins for South African rand at a local exchange platform.

Setting: This article examines existing literature in a South African VAT environment.

Method: A non-empirical study based on existing literature is performed.

Results: It is found that when interpreting the (current) VAT Act No. 89 of 1991, the receiving of bitcoin in exchange for the supply of goods or services, as well as the exchange of bitcoin for South African rand, is subject to output tax at the standard rate of 14%, which will lead to ‘double taxation’.

Conclusion: It was shown through this study that the proposed treatment as explained in the previous section would impose ‘double taxation’.


Keywords

Bitcoin; Output tax; VAT; VAT Act No. 89 of 1991; South Africa.

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