Europe: Gains From Crypto Trading Are Taxable, German Court Decides

By Hilger von Livonius

In a recent decision of 14 February 2023, the Federal Fiscal Court (Bundesfinanzhof, BFH), the highest German tax court, has ruled that privately held cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Monero (XMR) are – notwithstanding the fact that there are no physical goods in which a traditional form of legal ownership can be established – taxable assets for German income tax purposes. As a consequence, any gains from their acquisition (against fiat currency or otherwise) and sale (or exchange) within a one-year period will be taxable (at the owner’s personal tax rate); if, however, the relevant cryptocurrency has been held for more than one year, any gains will be tax exempt. For these purposes, the holder of the “private key” will be considered as legal owner of the cryptocurrency. The tax treatment of a realization of an increase in value of cryptocurrencies is therefore, in Germany, substantially the same as for fiat currency.

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