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Crypto Tax India: Ultimate Guide 2023

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Crypto Tax India: Ultimate Guide 2023

Last updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Do you have to pay tax on cryptocurrency in India? Wondering how India's crypto tax works and how the Income Tax Department (ITD) views Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? We've covered everything you need to know about crypto tax in India in our ultimate crypto tax guide for 2023 and beyond.

This guide is regularly updated

Before we start - India's crypto tax rules are in flux. At Koinly, we keep a very close eye on the Income Tax Department's crypto developments and regularly update our guide to keep you informed and tax compliant.

30 September 2022: Updated with new guidance.
29 June 2022: Updated with new guidance on 1% TDS from ITD.
3 Feb 2022: Welcome to your cryptocurrency tax guide for India!

Is crypto taxed in India?

Yes, cryptocurrency is subject to tax in India.

Prior to 2022, the Indian  government had no official stance on the classification of crypto assets, nor the subsequent taxation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But recently for the first time, the Indian authorities acknowledged the cryptocurrencies in India by classifying them as Virtual Digital Assets (VDAs) and introducing a taxation framework for VDAs - aka crypto.

How much tax will you pay on crypto in India?

You’ll pay 30% tax on profits from trading, selling or spending crypto and a 1% TDS tax on the sale of crypto assets exceeding more than RS50,000 in a single financial year. You may also pay Income Tax upon receipt at your individual tax rate if you’re seen to be earning other income in crypto, for example, through staking or mining.

How much crypto tax will you pay in India

How is crypto taxed in India?

The ITD introduced Section 2(47A) into the Income tax Act to define the term Virtual Digital Assets (VDAs). The definition is detailed, but essentially covers all kinds of crypto assets including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, tokens and more.

How is crypto taxed in India

In the 2022 budget, the Finance minister introduced Section 115BBH. This section levies a 30% tax (plus applicable surcharge and 4% cess) on profits made by trading cryptocurrencies on or after April 1, 2022.

This rate is the same as India's highest Income Tax bracket (excluding surcharge and cess). The tax rate applies to private investors, commercial traders and anyone else who transfers crypto assets in a given financial year. As well as this, the 30% tax rate will be applicable irrespective of the nature of income, so it doesn't matter if it is investment income or business income and there is no distinction between short-term and long-term gains.

The 30% tax isn't the only tax crypto is subject to. Another section, 194S, levies a 1% Tax at Source (TDS) on the transfer of crypto assets on or after July 1, 2022 if crypto transactions exceed RS50,000 in a financial year (or RS10,000 in certain cases) to ensure all crypto transactions are tracked.

Questions remain though for investors and accountants alike. The ITD has not provided clarity on how crypto income will be taxed before the FY 2022-23. Taxpayers may choose to declare income as capital gains if assets are held for investment purposes or business income if assets are held for trading purposes when filing their return for FY 2021-22. The due date for filing the return of Income for FY 2021-22 is July 31, 2022, and a belated return can be submitted by December 31, 2022 (for non-audit cases).

Crypto Tax India Key Points:

  • Profit from the sale, swap or spend of any crypto assets are taxed at a rate of 30% (plus surcharge as applicable and 4% cess).
  • Profits are  taxed under section 115BBH.
  • Lower tax on long-term capital gains is not available.
  • No deduction, except the cost of acquisition, is allowed.
  • TDS of 1% is to be charged on transfer of VDAs.
  • The tax rate of 30% is applicable from April 1, 2022 and TDS of 1% is applicable from July 1, 2022.

When will you pay tax on crypto in India?

You may need to pay the 30% tax whenever you make the following transactions: 

  • Selling crypto for INR or another fiat currency.
  • Trading crypto for crypto, including stablecoins.
  • Spending crypto on goods and services.

30% tax on crypto profits India

However, the 30% tax won’t always apply as sometimes the ITD will view you as having income instead. In these instances, you’ll pay tax at your Individual Tax Rate on receipt. This includes:

  • Gifting crypto - if you're the recipient of the gift (refer to gift section for more details).
  • Mining coins (refer to mining section for more details).
  • Getting paid in crypto.
  • Staking rewards.
  • Airdrops.

Income Tax on crypto India

And if you later sell, trade or spend these coins or tokens, you may be liable for the 30% tax on any profits.

As well as all of the above, there are many potential tax implications from DeFi activities.

DeFi income

The ITD has not released specific guidance on DeFi transactions. Instead, we need to refer to the existing provisions of the Income Tax Act for guidance. The following DeFi transactions may be taxed at your Individual Tax Rate upon receipt:

  • Earning new liquidity mining tokens, governance or reward tokens.
  • Referral rewards like Binance Referral.
  • Learn to earn campaigns, like Coinbase Learning Center or CoinMarketCap Learning Center.
  • Watch to earn platforms like Odysee.
  • Browse to earn platforms like Permission.io or Brave.

DeFi tax India

And even though you’ve paid tax upon receipt, don’t forget you may be liable for 30% tax on any profits if you later sell, swap or spend those tokens.

1% TDS on crypto assets

You’ll pay a 1% TDS on the transfer of a crypto asset. TDS is a form of tax collected at the source, so at the point of the transaction. The primary reason the 1% TDS has been introduced is to capture transaction details and keep track of investments being made in crypto assets by Indian Investors.

Despite the confusing language from the ITD, transfer means change of ownership, so a sale, trade or spend - not transferring from one wallet to another.

There are a couple of important points to note on crypto TDS:

  • The 1% TDS applies to transactions from the 1st of July 2022.
  • When trading on Indian exchanges - TDS will be deducted by exchanges and deposited with the government.
  • When trading through P2P platforms - the buyer is liable to deduct TDS.
  • Incase of crypto to crypto trades, TDS will be applied on both buyer and seller at 1%.

To further complicate things, no TDS is required to be deducted if consideration is payable by a “specified person and the total value of their crypto trading activities does not exceed RS50,000 in a single financial year.

What is a specified person?

A specified person refers to an individual or HUF (Hindu Undivided Family). The TDS limit of RS50,000 reduces to RS10,000 for Taxpayers other than Specified person, if:

  • You have sales/gross receipts/business income up to RS1 Crore, or no income from business in the previous financial year.
  • You have sales/gross receipts/professional income up to RS50 Lakhs, or no professional income in the previous financial year.

If you're trading on Indian exchanges - your TDS requirements will generally be fulfilled by the exchange itself, so you don't need to do anything. However, in the case of P2P transactions, when it comes to paying and filing TDS as a specified person:

  • You’re required to submit TDS in Form 26QE within 30 days from the end of the month in which TDS is deducted in case of P2P transaction.
  • All taxpayers other than  a specified person are required to obtain TAN, submit return in form 26Q and make TDS payment by 7th of next month.

As well as this, you can reduce your total tax payable by claiming TDS credit when filing your tax return.

Example

Arun bought 1 Bitcoin for RS1,000,000 and sold it for RS800,000.

The exchange Arun bought BTC on deducted TDS of RS8,000.

Arun has a loss of RS200,000, as a result no tax is due. When he files his tax return, he can claim a refund of RS8,000 TDS.

Crypto losses

It's bad news for investors when it comes to losses from crypto investments. Section 115BBH prohibits offsetting crypto losses against crypto gains, or any other gains or income for that matter.

Indian crypto investors are also not allowed to claim crypto related expenses except the cost of acquisition/buy price. 

Crypto profit & loss India

Example

Ahaan bought 1 BTC for RS1,000,000 and sold it for RS800,000. Ahaan also bought RS800,000 ETH and sold it for RS900,000.

The exchange Ahaan used deducted RS17,000 TDS and charged a trading fee of RS7,000.

Ahaan has a loss of RS200,000 from BTC and a gain of RS100,000 from ETH. Section 115BBH does not allow Ahaan to offset his loss from BTC, or deduct his trading fees.

Therefore, Ahaan pays 30% tax on his RS100,000 profit, or RS30,000. He may also claim a TDS credit of RS17,000. Overall, Ahaan will need to pay RS13,000 as balance tax when he files his tax return.

Tax free crypto India

Wondering when Bitcoin is tax free in India? What about other cryptocurrencies? There are a couple of instances where you won't pay tax on your crypto in India. You won't pay tax on your crypto in India when you're:

  • HODLing crypto.
  • Transferring crypto between your own wallets
  • Receiving a gift of crypto up to RS50,000 or over this amount from close family members.

Tax free crypto India

Lost or stolen crypto in India

The ITD has not offered clear guidance on lost and stolen crypto. But based on various judgements passed by Indian courts on loss/theft of other kinds of assets, there is no tax payable on the crypto lost as a result of a hack, scam or theft.

However, given the ITD’s harsh stance on offsetting crypto losses against gains, it’s very unlikely investors could claim and offset a loss from a lost/stolen crypto asset.

Lost or stolen crypto

How are gifts of crypto taxed?

If you receive a gift of crypto - whether that's coins, tokens or an NFT - you'll be liable to pay Income Tax at your applicable slab rate, based on the fair market value of your gift.

This said, there are a couple of exceptions where you won't pay tax when receiving a gift:

  1. Gifts made from close family members (parents, spouse, siblings of taxpayer and spouse, lineal ascendant or descendant of taxpayer and spouse) are not taxed on receipt.
  2. Gifts less than RS50,000 in a single financial year are not taxed on receipt.
  3. Gifts received as a result of a marriage or via inheritance are not taxed on receipt.

Crypto gifts tax

Examples

  1. Sanjay receives RS10,000 in BTC from his father. Neither Sanjay nor his father need to pay tax.
  2. Sanjay receives RS10,000 in BTC from a friend. Neither Sanjay nor his friend need to pay tax as it is not over the RS50,000 gift allowance per financial year.
  3. Sanjay receives RS60,000 in BTC from a friend. This is more than the RS50,000 allowance and therefore Sanjay will need to pay tax upon receipt, but his friend does not.
  4. Sanjay receives RS10,000 BTC from a friend as a wedding gift. Neither Sanjay nor his friend need to pay tax as wedding gifts are not taxed.

How to calculate tax on crypto

You know you'll pay a flat 30% tax on your profits, but how do you calculate your profits? You need to start by figuring out your cost basis.

Your cost basis is how much it cost you to buy your crypto, or the fair market value in INR of the crypto on the day you received it. Unlike most other tax offices, the ITD does not allow you to add things like buy or sell fees to your cost basis.

Calculating crypto gains and losses India

Once you know your cost basis, subtract this from your sale price. If you otherwise disposed of your crypto - like by trading or spending it - instead subtract your cost basis from the fair market value in INR on the day you disposed of it.

Crypto cost basis method India

Of course, for most investors they're not calculating a gain or loss from a single asset, they're actually calculating gains and losses for multiple crypto assets which makes tracking your cost basis a lot trickier. A cost basis method dictates which assets you sold and when - which can have a big effect on your gains and losses. In general, India recognizes the first in, first out (FIFO) and average cost basis accounting method.

Crypto cost basis method India

Will you pay tax when you buy crypto in India?

You don't currently pay tax when you buy crypto with fiat currency like INR. However, if you are purchasing crypto through a P2P platform or international exchanges, you will be required to deduct 1% TDS and remit the balance amount to the seller’s account.

Buying crypto with INR

Unless you're purchasing crypto through a P2P platform, buying crypto with fiat currency like INR is tax free.

Buying crypto tax India

TAX FREE

HODLing crypto

Waiting for the moon? Great plan and great news for your taxes. You'll pay no tax on crypto you HODL.

Again, do make sure to keep records of how much it cost you to acquire your crypto so you can accurately calculate your capital gains and losses later on.

For those long-term HODLers, it may be worth using a platform that tracks and stores trading information for long periods of time, as exchanges often only keep information for 3 to 6 months. This information can then easily be imported into Koinly to quickly find out how big your tax liability is.

TAX FREE

Buying crypto with crypto

You’ll pay 30% tax on any profits from a crypto to crypto trade.

To calculate your capital gain, you'd use the cost base of the crypto you disposed of and subtract it from the fair market value for that asset on the day you traded it for another crypto.

Crypto trade tax India

30% TAX

Buying crypto with stablecoins

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are pegged to a reserve currency, often a fiat currency. For example, the cryptocurrency USDT is tethered to the US dollar. This allows for reduced price volatility.

Buying crypto with stablecoins is viewed as trading crypto for crypto, so any profits are subject to a 30% tax.

Stablecoins tax

30% TAX

Do you pay tax when you sell cryptocurrency in India?

Yes - you'll pay tax whenever you sell cryptocurrency in India, with no exceptions.

Selling crypto for fiat currency

Any profits from selling crypto for fiat currency like INR is subject to a 30% tax rate. You'll also have a 1%TDS deducted by Indian crypto exchanges, or by the buyer in the case of P2P platforms.

Selling crypto tax India

30% TAX & 1% TDS

Selling crypto for crypto

Profits from trading one crypto for another are subject to 30% tax, as well as a 1% TDS for the seller.

30% TAX & 1% TDS

Do you pay tax when transferring crypto?

Despite the confusing terminology from the ITD, you won’t pay tax when you transfer crypto between your own wallets.

Moving crypto between wallets

You won’t pay tax when you transfer crypto between your own wallets. Your crypto does not exchange ownership - so despite the confusing terminology from the ITD, there is no 'transfer of VDA' when transferring crypto between wallets.

Transferring crypto India

Example

Aadhya had 1 BTC in her Binance account. She transferred it to her FTX account.

This is not a transfer of crypto assets since the transactions are between Aadhya's own wallets. As such, no tax is payable.

TAX FREE

How are airdrops and forks taxed in India?

Airdrops and forks are similar to receiving gifts, as such, they may be taxed upon receipt and disposal. 

New coins from a hard fork

For soft forks, you'll receive no new assets, so there is no taxable event.

For hard forks, where you receive a new coin as a result of a fork , you’ll pay Income Tax at your individual rate based on the fair market value of the tokens in INR on the day you receive them.

If you later sell, swap or spend your coins, you’ll be liable to pay 30% tax on any profit as a result of the transaction.

Tax on hard forks India

INCOME TAX

Receiving an airdrop

Receiving an airdrop is similar to receiving a gift. As such, you’ll pay Income Tax at your individual rate based on the fair market value of the token upon receipt. 

You can calculate how much income you have by identifying the fair market value of the tokens on the day you received them in INR.

Example

Hari holds 100 NEO tokens.  On April 1, 2022, Hari receives 10 GAS tokens. On that day the fair market value of GAS tokens is RS10.

Hari will be liable to pay tax at his slab rate on the GAS tokens he received, so he'll pay Income Tax on RS100.

INCOME TAX

Selling or swapping coins from an airdrop

The bad news keeps on coming. Not only will you pay Income Tax when you receive an airdrop, but you'll pay 30% tax when you later sell, swap, or spend the coins or tokens you received from an airdrop - if there's a profit.

Your cost basis for airdrops is the fair market value on the day you received them in INR.

Airdrop tax India

Example

Let's use the example above again. We know Hari held 100 NEO tokens, and received 10 GAS tokens valued at RS100 on the day he received them, which he has already paid Income Tax on.

Hari later sells his 10 GAS tokens for RS200. To calculate his gain, subtract the fair market value of the GAS tokens on the day he received them from his sale price

RS200 - RS100 = RS100. Hari will pay 30% tax on RS100.

30% TAX

Crypto gifts and donations tax

Gifting crypto in India is taxed - although there are a couple of exceptions if you give under a certain amount within a year or if you gift to friends and family members for specific occasions like as a wedding gift. It's important to note it isn't the person giving the gift that is liable for tax, but the recipient.

Receiving a gift less than RS50,000

Receiving a gift less than RS50,000 in a financial year is tax free.

TAX FREE

Receiving a gift from family

Under India's current gift tax laws, gifts from immediate family members - for example, from your parents or siblings - are tax free.

TAX FREE

Receiving a gift on specific occasions

There are certain occasions or circumstances when receiving a gift from outside your immediate family is tax free. This includes as a wedding gift or via an inheritance or will.

TAX FREE

Receiving a gift more than RS50,000

If you receive a gift of crypto worth more than RS50,000 in a single financial year, you'll be liable for Income Tax at your applicable slab rate on that gift.

INCOME TAX

Donating crypto to a registered charity

A tax deduction for donations to charitable institutions can only be claimed if the donation is made through banking channels or in cash up to RS2,000. 

As crypto is not legal tender in India, donations will not be tax deductible. In fact, your generous act will likely be treated as disposal of an asset and any perceived profits subject to 30% tax.

30% TAX

Mining and staking tax

The ITD hasn't clarified the specifics around tax on mining and staking as part of a consensus mechanism yet. However, as you’re earning other income in crypto, it is likely that you’ll pay Income Tax at your individual rate upon receipt of mining and staking rewards.

Crypto mining

You’ll pay Income Tax at your individual rate based on the fair market value of mined coins in INR on the day you receive them. 

Worse still, if you later sell, swap or spend mined coins,  you’ll also be liable for 30% tax on any profit.

Mining tax India

As there is no clarity from the ITD, we'd recommend consulting an experienced accountant on the potential tax implications of crypto mining activities.

INCOME TAX

Crypto staking

Again, the ITD hasn't released any guidance on staking rewards and the tax implications yet. But it's likely if you're staking as part of a PoS consensus mechanism, you'll need to pay Income Tax at your individual rate upon receipt of staking rewards based on the fair market value in INR on the day you receive tokens.

You will also be liable for 30% tax on any profit when you later sell, swap or spend your staking rewards.

INCOME TAX

When do you need to report your crypto taxes ?

The financial year (FY) in India runs from April 1st to March 31st the following year. For example, the most recent financial year was April 1st 2021 to March 31st 2022 (FY 2021-22). This will be the financial year you'll be reporting on when you file your taxes this year.

The deadline to file taxes for taxpayers who are not subject to audits is July 31 2022.  For taxpayers undergoing audit, the deadline is October 31, 2022.

Tax deadlines India

How do you file your crypto taxes with the ITD?

You'll file your crypto taxes for FY 2021-22 (AY 2022-23) using the Income Tax Form ITR-2 (reporting as capital gains) or ITR-3  (reporting as Business Income).

At the time of writing, the FY 2021-22 ITR-2 and ITR-3 forms don't have a dedicated space to report crypto gains or income.

The 2022 Finance Act explicitly states that crypto profits must be declared and subjected to 30% tax effective from April 1st 2022. This falls just outside the FY 2021-2022 you'll be reporting on.

However, the conservative approach to avoid an unwelcome audit from the ITD is to report your crypto gains and income. You should consult with an experienced crypto accountant for specific advice, but you could report crypto activity in Schedule CG, ITR-2 AY 2022-23 Form until such a time that the ITD releases a dedicated crypto tax reporting form or updates the ITR-2 Form.

Binance India, eToro India, WazirX and more...

Koinly pairs with the leading Indian crypto exchanges to make crypto tax less taxing. Whether you're using Binance India, eToro India, WazirX - or all three - Koinly can help. Koinly pairs with more than 700 exchanges, wallets and blockchains via API or CSV. All you need to do is connect your exchange to Koinly using API or upload a CSV file of your transaction history and Koinly does the rest for you, calculating your taxes in minutes and saving you hours.

How to use a crypto tax app like Koinly

Calculating your crypto taxes so you can report them - especially if you trade at volume - is time consuming. You can do it all manually, or you can use a crypto tax calculator like Koinly to save you hours. Here's how easy it is:

1. Sign up for a FREE Koinly account.

It only takes a minute!

2. Select your base country and currency.

In this instance, India and INR.

3. Select your accounting method.

Koinly supports many cost basis methods including FIFO, LIFO, HIFO and ACB. FIFO is the default and permitted by the ITD.

4. Connect Koinly to your wallets, exchanges or blockchains.

Koinly integrates with more than 300 crypto exchanges, wallets and blockchains. (See all) If you can't find yours, let us know - we're always adding more.

5. Let Koinly crunch the numbers. Make a coffee.

Koinly will calculate your cost basis for each crypto asset like ETH, ADA and Bitcoin and taxes them accordingly. Koinly will calculate each capital gain or loss from your disposals, as well as your crypto income and expenses.

6. Ta-da! Your data is collected and your full tax report is generated!

Head to the tax reports page in Koinly and check out your tax summary.

7. To download your crypto tax report, upgrade to a paid plan.

Download what you need, when you need it.

8. Send your report to your accountant

Use the generated file to complete your Income Tax Return or send it over to your accountant. Job done.

Can the Income Tax Department (ITD) track crypto?

Yes - it's likely the ITD knows about your crypto already. The ITD can request crypto exchanges to share KYC (know your customer) data to ensure tax compliance. As well as this, the 1% TDS is going to make it much easier for the ITD to track each individual taxpayers' assets. Though it can be tempting to avoid crypto tax - the penalties are severe. Tax evasion is a criminal offence in India and the penalties range from steep fines to imprisonment depending on the severity.

The information on this website is for general information only. It should not be taken as constituting professional advice from Koinly. Koinly is not a financial adviser. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the website information relates to your unique circumstances. Koinly is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this website.

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