ATO updates treatment of crypto CGT events

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has recently issued crucial guidance regarding the capital gains tax (CGT) treatment for activities within decentralized finance (DeFi) and the process of wrapping crypto tokens. This initiative is part of the ATO's ongoing commitment to clarifying tax obligations in the dynamic realm of digital assets and blockchain-based finance.

Understanding CGT Events in DeFi

DeFi, a revolutionary form of finance leveraging blockchain technology, mainly operates on the Ethereum blockchain. Capital gains can arise in DeFi transactions, and the ATO has outlined specific CGT events (A1, E2, C2, H2) that may be applicable based on the nature of the arrangement.

Significance of Trust Relationships in DeFi

A critical factor in determining CGT events is the establishment of a trust relationship within the DeFi arrangement. This becomes pivotal in scenarios where a legal person holds the same asset type for other beneficiaries, potentially impacting the sole beneficiary status.

DeFi Lending and Borrowing: Triggering CGT Events

The ATO's guidance emphasizes that numerous DeFi lending and borrowing arrangements could trigger a CGT event, particularly when there is a change in beneficial ownership of a crypto asset. This change can occur through asset exchanges or future rights exchanges.

Liquidity Pools in DeFi: Determining CGT Events

In DeFi, liquidity pools play a vital role in facilitating lending and enhancing trading liquidity. The ATO clarifies that depositing into and withdrawing from these pools can constitute CGT events, dependent on the market value of the involved assets.

Tax Treatment of DeFi Platform Rewards

Rewards or returns obtained from DeFi platforms are treated akin to interest income for tax purposes. The market value of any crypto asset reward received must be reported as assessable income.

CGT for Wrapped Tokens

Wrapped tokens, representing another form of crypto asset, are subject to CGT upon wrapping or unwrapping. The taxation is based on the market value of the wrapped token at the time of the exchange.

Industry Response and Concerns

Following the ATO's clarification, there has been a noteworthy industry response. Chloe White from Genesis Block and Blockchain Australia criticized the ATO's stance, arguing that it may violate the principle of technological neutrality and could impact the financial future of young Australians.

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