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No VAT to pay on bitcoin exchange transactions, says top EU court

Peter Sayer | Oct. 23, 2015
Trading in bitcoin will be a little cheaper for exchanges based in the European Union

The Article 135(1)f exemption doesn't apply either, the court said, because bitcoins are not "shares, interests in companies or associations, debentures and other securities."

However, Hedqvist struck virtual gold with Article 135(1)e, source of the court's linguistic dilemma. The English version holds that transactions involving "currency [and] bank notes and coins used as legal tender" are exempt.

The court held this to mean that currency is exempt whether or not it is legal tender, as "to interpret that provision as including only transactions involving traditional currencies would deprive it of part of its effect."

As a result, the CJEU ruled Thursday, bitcoin exchanges based in the EU need not charge VAT on the margins they make or commissions they charge when swapping bitcoin for traditional currencies, making doing business in bitcoin that little bit cheaper.

 

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