Taxation law

The Dawn of a New Era?

Jan 11th, 2018

By Alexandre Dufresne

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The following is the first in a series of articles on cryptocurrency, tax, law and everything in between.

In 2017, the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple (to name a few) exploded. The price of Bitcoin rose 1,221% in 2017! Terms such as blockchain, ICOs, digital currency, distributed/public/digital ledger and decentralized networks are brought to the forefront.

While many articles have been written on these topics (you can google the above noted words if you haven’t already), few people have yet to truly understand what these concepts mean and, more importantly, the purpose they serve and the future they may create. As a point of comparison, in the 90s, who knew what the internet really was? The dot-com era began, had its ups and downs and turned out pretty well in the long run!

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain – there are now more than a thousand cryptocurrencies and tokens with a total market cap of approximately $700 billion US – are probably still in their infancy. The crypto market is extremely volatile, as are price predictions; which, for Bitcoin, range from $1M, to “bubble” status, to “this is worthless”!

In the next several weeks (or years if the bubble doesn’t burst!), I will address different topics associated with cryptocurrencies. Amongst the topics to be discussed:

  • Did you know that the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) is of the opinion that cryptocurrencies should be treated as commodities (and not as currencies) for tax purposes, which means that each and every transfer (even from one cryptocurrency to another) would result in a taxable disposition? Practically and legally, does this make sense?
  • On death, cryptocurrencies form part of your assets and are bequeathed in accordance with your will. However, if the liquidator of the estate does not have access to your private keys or cryptocurrency wallet, the cryptocurrencies and the value thereof are probably lost forever.

Should you have tax/legal questions regarding cryptocurrencies, please do not hesitate to contact the author. 

“Best lawyers in Canada” recognizes the author as one of the best tax lawyers in Canada since 2011.