Govt seeks disclosure of crypto transactions, holdings
In a first, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has asked all companies in the country to mandatorily disclose any dealings in cryptocurrency or virtual currency in their balance sheets. This is a major step towards regulating crypto assets in India and is expected to bring in a lot of transparency in reporting or filing of crypto investments.
The companies have to disclose profit or loss on transactions involving cryptocurrency or virtual currency, the amount of holding, and details of deposits or advances from any person for the purpose of trading or investing in cryptocurrency or virtual currency, according to the latest amendments to the Schedule III of the Companies Act, 2013. This will be applicable from the upcoming financia lyear, MCA said in a notification on Wednesday.
“From regulation to a complete ban, there are many competing theories as to what the actual legislation will be. Keeping that narrative in mind, the fact that the government has asked for disclosures, it may look to perhaps regulate rather than ban cryptocurrencies. But these are still early days and the most important piece of regulation is still to come,” said G.V. Anand Bhushan, partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.
There are estimated to be around 10 million individual crypto investors in India, but the number of companies having exposure to this avenue is not known.
“The government’s move is expected to boost institutional adoption of crypto assets. We are eagerly waiting for positive regulatory guidelines from the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India for more clarity on crypto regulation in India. Indians have already invested around $1.5 billion in crypto assets, which clearly shows their intent towards embracing digital assets,” said Shivam Thakral, chief executive officer, BuyUcoin, a cryptocurrency exchange.
Globally, major companies such as Tesla and MicroStrategy have been holding big amounts of bitcoin on their balance sheets.
Despite the MCA making it official for companies to hold and report crypto assets in their books, experts feel that there is still a disparity on how these assets will be taxed.
“Whether it is going to be taxed as business income, capital gains or speculative income, it is still to be tested. But it is certain that this information will be mined by the income tax authorities to verify whether people have paid taxes on this particular income or not,” said Pallav Narang, partner at CNK RK & Co. Chartered Accountants. “The government’s intent seems to include and regulate cryptocurrencies,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government is in the process of bringing in a bill on cryptocurrencies. The contents of the bill are not yet known, but the Centre has said in February that the bill would seek to ban all private cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether. However, recently it had hinted that it would take a calibrated approach towards digital assets.