Australian Tax Office Hunts for Crypto Tax Evaders

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If you are a holder of crypto and a citizen of Australia or are currently residing in the country you had better be on the good books of the national tax agency. The Australian Tax Office through an April 30 press release announced that it has started collecting bulk record from Australian-designated service providers such as digital currency exchanges and other firms that are dealing in crypto.

As it stands the tax office is working with a wide estimate of 500,000 to one million Australians who have been trading in crypto-related activities and ignoring their tax obligations. The number of crypto users on Australia has been growing at a rather rapid rate and this has caught the attention of the authorities who are hopeful that the industry might help in filling some of the existing tax gaps.

Unsurprisingly, the authority’s aim is to carry on a data matching program that will help them to determine whether the taxpayer’s declarations are correct or if the crypto holders are deliberately dodging their fiscal responsibilities.

“The ATO uses third-party data to improve the integrity of the tax system by identifying taxpayers who fail to disclose their income details correctly. We also use third-party data to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations through pre-filling of tax returns. This data will be collected under notice from the DSPs on an ongoing basis,” Will Day, deputy commissioner of the ATO said about the strategy.

Some of the information that the tax authority will be obtaining from the crypto-related business in the country will include purchase and sale records. Fortunately for them, Australian required businesses to keep certain critical records that include digital wallet records and keys, receipts of transfer or purchase of crypto assets as well as exchange records.

All of the taxpayers who will be found to have violated the law will first be contacted by the tax agency once the exercise is complete after which the necessary compliance action will be taken.

Crypto Tax Laws in Australia

Under Australian law, all capital gains that may be obtained from crypto trading are supposed to be taxed. The only exception is where the capital gains or the losses made are in a situation where the digital currency is a “personal use asset”. As such, in cases where digital currencies are disposed as a normal business operation, the profits that are yielded from it are considered to be ordinary income instead of capital gains. Moreover, in such a case the cost of purchasing the cryptocurrencies is considered to be trading stock and is therefore deductible – this kind of businesses are mostly trading firms and exchanges.

Disgraced Mt. Gox CEO Appointed as London Trust Media CTO

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The last four years have been pretty tough for Mark Karpelès, the Chief Executive Officer of Mt. Gox, the bitcoin exchange that went bankrupt in 2014 following the loss of 850,000 bitcoins. The situation not only made the former head of Mt. Gox one of the most hated men in the crypto world but also saw him serve a jail term for nearly a year while awaiting criminal trial for charges of data manipulations, breach of trust and embezzlement. This is despite the fact that Mt. Gox was able to recover 200,000 bitcoins – the remaining 650,000 bitcoins are believed to have been stolen by hackers from elsewhere.

“I have no way to be sure that I’ll still be able to work in one year, two years,” Karpelès said in an interview with Fortune in an interview in Tokyo in March. “So I cannot really get a normal full-time job.”

This sentiment by Karpelès clearly indicates that he acknowledges the possibility that he may be sent back to jail. Regardless of all this, he did land a new job as a C-level executive at a U.S. corporation – he will be the new chief technology officer (CTO) of London Trust Media which is paid virtual private network (VPN) service provider based in Denver.

The company also invests in cryptocurrency. In fact, it was an early investor in Zcash, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency, as well as Purse, an e-commerce startup that allows people to pay for Amazon purchases with bitcoin.

“Mark fought and fell. And although he fell, his skills, experience, and know-how unarguably continue to exist. And so, bringing in a seasoned warrior makes perfect sense to me. I am more than willing to give a second chance to Mark in this fight’s critical hour. I wouldn’t dare say that the person who architected the Titanic should never again architect another ship”, said Andrew Lee, co-founder at London Trust Media and former head of Mt. Gox’s North American operations.

In the interview with Fortune, Karpelès admitted that the new position at London Trust Media was now his main job alongside other five different IT consulting jobs, as well as online video game-related and network communications projects with employers he preferred not to mention. Also, since he is on trial and thus cannot legally leave Japan, Karpelès will only be able to work remotely.

However, even though his new job description puts him in charge of London Trust Media’s cryptocurrency ventures, the former Mt. Gox CEO has been quite open about the fact that he no longer believes in bitcoin.

“Bitcoin right now is, I believe, doomed. Its original promise of being the future of currency is clearly out of reach”, Karpelès said.

He believes that the cryptocurrency may have a lot of trouble evolving, scaling up and keeping up with everything. In addition to this, he pointed to the split between bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash as proof of how polarized the cryptocurrency community is.

Crypto Prices Drop Amidst Trader Suspicion of Binance Hack

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The major cryptocurrencies on Wednesday experienced sharp price drops as reports of system errors at Binance, a renowned crypto exchange, got many investors into a bit of a panic. At the same time, digital currency traders also had to digest reports that major United States regulators are demanding for the registration of all cryptocurrency exchanges.

Binance is considered to be one of the biggest exchanges in the world – CoinMarketCap reports that it is one of the top 4 biggest exchanges for the most popular cryptocurrencies in terms of the traded volumes. Prior to the Wednesday crash, a number of users noticed something highly unusual with Viacoin – that is, a huge increase in buy orders for the cryptocurrency after which its market capitalization jumped from $64 million to $159 million in just a few moments. A probe into the matter revealed that there were lots of unauthorized sell orders going around.

“We are investigating reports of some users having issues with their funds. Our team is aware and investigating the issue as we speak,” the Binance team wrote on Reddit. “As of this moment, the only confirmed victims have registered API keys (to use with trading bots or otherwise). There is no evidence of the Binance platform being compromised.”

Binance later announced that it had halted withdrawals so as to look into what the company referred to as “unauthorized market sells.” The company further stated that there was no evidence that the platform had been compromised at the time.

The impact the alleged Binance hack has had on the market is quite significant. 360 Blockchain USA president, Jeff Koyen pointed out the concerns surrounding Binance resulted in the plunge of the prices of bitcoin and several other digital currencies as well.

“All of crypto is getting battered right now, based on fears that Binance was hacked,” Koyen stated.

SEC Crackdown Played a Role

A number of market analysts have also pointed the price drops to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent decision to subpoena a number of firms that either deal in cryptocurrencies, or are associated with them. A large number of the subpoenas were specifically sent to companies that are selling digital token through Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Circle’s Latest Acquisition Could Make It A Financial Giant

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Circle, a renowned financial services firm that specializes in cryptocurrencies and related mobile payments, yesterday (February 26th) announced that it would be purchasing the cryptocurrency exchange known as Poloniex. The exchange has been operational since 2014 and was at one time considered to be one of the biggest exchanges in the market. Even though a lot of competition has sprung, Poloniex remains to be among the top 20 largest cryptocurrency exchanges by trading volume. According to Fortune, Circle will be parting with $400 million or thereabouts for the acquisition – this move effectively makes Circle one of the most influential and largest companies in the industry.

In an official statement following the announcement, Poloniex said that its teams would be strengthened by the operational and customer support resources from Circle that will help them to scale effectively henceforth.

We recognize that our extraordinary growth these past few years has not come without some growing pains for our users. We look forward to bringing Circle’s experience to increase the scalability and reliability of our platform and operations. – Poloniex.

Circle’s history is quite interesting. It was first pitched as a bitcoin company that intended to make bitcoin more accessible – something along the lines of being the PayPal for bitcoin where the users could buy and sell bitcoin quickly and easily in the simplest way possible. Later, the company went ahead to dub itself as a social payment company, a Venmo competitor. However, the company eventually got back into the cryptocurrency game full swing with Circle Pay.

Circle Pay is Circle’s peer-to-peer payment service that is now one of the companies more critical efforts. Circle also runs an over-the-counter trading desk for large crypto exchanges and investors known as Circle Trade. Circle Trade essentially fosters liquidity between cryptocurrencies and a number of fiat currencies. It also powers Circle Pay. Fortune reveals that Circle Trade manages $2 billion in monthly transactions and it generated close to $60 million in revenue in a span of just three months.

A Timely Expansion?

Now, Circle is expanding its portfolio of products with an easy-to-use investment app called Circle Invest that will mostly cater to people who want to start buying digital currencies. Ultimately, having a cryptocurrency exchange of its own would be great for Circle and this is where Poloniex comes in. Circle intends to build on the work that had already been done by the Poloniex team with the end goal being to push it past being “an exchange for only crypto assets.”

“We envision a robust multi-sided distributed marketplace that can host tokens which represent everything of value: physical goods, fundraising and equity, real estate, creative productions such as works of art, music, and literature, service leases and time-based rentals, credit, futures, and more,” Circle co-founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville wrote.

Poloniex assured its users that there would be no disruption of the services the exchange offers during the transition. All the updates that will be made in the course of the transition will be done in the background and will be geared towards optimizing user experience, security as well as the overall performance of the exchange.

Cryptocurrency Trading Still Thriving in China Despite Ban

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Last September, China stunned the cryptocurrency community when it announced a crackdown on ICOs after which it further gave all crypto exchanges in mainland China an ultimatum that required them to wind up their operations by October – seemingly a big blow that would potentially kill the nascent Chinese blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. Chinese bitcoin trading volumes had already dropped significantly since January 2017 and prior to the announcement especially because of the exchange fees Chinese exchanges were forced to raise and the AML protocols they were forced to implement by the authorities at the beginning of 2017. Regardless, the country remained a crucial market for cryptocurrency trading, and more specifically for bitcoin.
Surprisingly, the halting of Chinese crypto-exchange operations did not get in bitcoin’s way as its price skyrocketed just a couple of months later to reach an all-time high of around $20,000. At about the same time, three of China’s largest trading platforms, Huobi, BTCC, and OKCoin, all of which were ordered to shut down their businesses in September, relocated their businesses to Hong Kong with the intent to cater to the rapidly growing demand from investors in the city.
Relocating to friendlier jurisdictions seemed to be the best option for the businesses but they were also considering a number of options that included applying for licenses in Japan and setting up over-the-counter (OTC) shops in Hong Kong.

Enter OTCs

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts in mainland China are still able to trade domestically – the only difference is that instead of relying on exchanges to route their transactions, the transactions are negotiated on recently set up over-the-counter (OTC) trading platforms such as OKEx, Huobi, and OTCBTC. As you may have noticed, these OTC operations are forked the parent companies which were previously China’s, or even the world’s, largest crypto-exchange platforms.

Is There a Catch?

Of course, there is! Chinese crypto-junkies who still want to partake in trading activities have to put up with significantly inflated prices. For instance, when compared to traditional cryptocurrency exchanges, the prices on OTC platforms are higher by 10 to 20 percent. Case in point, when bitcoin was trading at $11,730 on Coinbase, the lowest bitcoin price on the Huobi OTC platform was $13,085. However, the government regulations are culpable for the premium that Chinese investors are forced to pay as a result of the limited supply of OTC coin. Still, wittier traders have taken advantage of the arbitrage opportunity to buy cryptocurrencies at cheaper prices from foreign exchanges after which they sell them back on the domestic OTC platforms at higher prices. There are risks like price volatility and slow transaction times involved but the traders are willing to put up with this.

On the OTC platforms, cryptocurrency trading is as easy as buying goods on eBay. All a buyer needs to do is to pick a currency they want to buy and then offers from multiple sellers appear. Buyers are allowed to link their bank accounts or use mobile payment services that are available in China.

Futures Officially Launch as Bitcoin Price Reaches New Highs

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Bitcoin has indeed come a long way and it is now a step closer to legitimization with the recent launch of a product that allows investors to take bets on the cryptocurrency’s price in the future. This new contract on the Chicago Board Options Exchange was just in time for bitcoin’s 10% jump which was responsible for igniting fresh speculations that it was just a bubble especially after the prior 40% climb in price. The new Chicago futures trading indicates great optimism on the side of traders that bitcoin will trade at even higher prices come January.

When the futures exchange debuted on Sunday, bitcoin futures exploded thus forcing the Chicago Board Options Exchange to halt operations for a little while so that the market would cool down. Still, bitcoin which is the underlying asset, in this case, had a price bump of about 26%. It began at $15,460 before midnight on Sunday (London time) then surged forward to reach a record high $18,700 after which it had a slight relapse to $17,800. The price volatility exhibited within such a short period of time was responsible for a number of bumps including the halting of trading activities twice.

CBOE also explained that website was being strained by the stupendous amount of traffic in a tweet that read:

“Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to https://t.co/jb3O722hoo may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable. All trading systems are operating normally.”

Bitcoin is becoming more mainstream and the launch of this contract is just the beginning of what is expected to be a very smooth ride into the next year and beyond. CBOE has since stabilized and the exchange currently lists three bitcoin features that will each expire in the first three months of 2018. The final settlement value of all the three contracts will then be determined by bitcoin’s price on exchange Gemini. As it stands, the introduction of bitcoin futures is already curving up an upward trend for bitcoin’s price and now with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) planning to launch bitcoin futures of its own on the 18th of December, we can expect the price of bitcoin to surpass the $20,000 mark very soon.