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Taxing token generation events

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The UK tax treatment of cryptocurrencies, particularly token generation events (often called an initial coin offering (ICO)), is uncertain. Whether token issuers will incur corporation tax will mainly depend on whether HMRC views the token as distinct from the underlying asset. Similarly, VAT treatment of tokens may be determined by analogy to similar assets. Token-issuing companies may have withholding tax obligations depending on the nature of return to token holders, especially if there are UK non-resident token holders. The sale of tokens are likely to be subject to capital gains tax, and transfers potentially subject to SDRT. For certain tokens, the enterprise investment scheme, entrepreneurs’ relief and/or investors’ relief could be relevant.

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