Spring Budget spells bad news for crypto investors

07 March 2024

Miruna Constantin, tax manager at leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM UK, said: ‘The net could be closing in on those avoiding their tax obligations on crypto profits. Yesterday saw Bitcoin reach its all-time high at over $69,000, but the celebrations may be short-lived for some investors with news that HMRC could scrutinise their affairs in more detail. 

‘HMRC has today issued a new Cryptoasset Reporting Framework (CARF) and Common Reporting Standard (CRS) consultation in the same week Bitcoin prices have thawed after a two-year ‘crypto winter’ to record levels. 

‘The CARF sets out a new automatic exchange of tax information aimed specifically at cryptoasset transactions. The CARF emerged from a desire to develop a global tax transparency framework set to tackle the digitally murky waters of the crypto market.  

‘These rules have already been agreed internationally within the OECD countries (including the UK) and they mainly target companies. However, the government is testing the waters regarding potential benefits or drawbacks of extending the frameworks’ powers to require UK-reporting entities to include information on UK individual residents. 

‘This could result in HMRC obtaining the data it needs more easily to tackle those failing to report and pay the right amount of tax on their crypto activities. 

‘There are likely to be individuals benefitting from substantial capital gains in the current tax year. On 5 March the price of one Bitcoin token hit a new record high when it shot above $69,000. As a comparison, on 5 March 2023, one Bitcoin was a little over $22,354. That means there would have been ample opportunity for people that held on to their tokens through the crypto winter to sell it at massive gains and potentially trigger capital gains tax liabilities. 

‘Gone are the days where individuals could play around with crypto, trigger tax liabilities and then just bury their heads in the sand claiming they had no idea they had to pay tax on it. It is envisaged that the rules will come into force in 2026 at the earliest and HMRC believe they will bring in revenue of up to £95m per year.’