Are good days over? Indian Bitcoin exchanges now under IT scanner
The Income Tax Department has come down heavily on major Bitcoin exchanges in India.
According to PTI, various officials of the department under the command of the Bengaluru investigation wing visited the premises of nine exchanges in the country across Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Gurugram, since early this morning.
As a part of the survey conducted under Section 133A of the Income Tax Act, the IT department is gathering evidence of the identity of investors and traders, transaction undertaken by them, as well as identity of counterparties, related bank accounts used, among others.
According to the survey teams, these officials are armed with financial data of these exchanges.
In just the past week, sources said there have been several banks, including ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank which have removed payment options for transacting on these exchanges.
Due to lack of this option, customers transacting on these exchanges had to send money directly to the exchange’s current account through NEFT transactions.
Not being powered by any payment gateways, this way these Bitcoin exchanges save on the switching charges as well as earn interest on the money sent by customers until they use to buy more Bitcoins.
A founder of one of these Bitcoin exchanges had then stated,
“The tussle with Banks and RBI has been going on for some time now. So this is nothing new.”
Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had made a call for caution on virtual currency, while stating that they pose potential financial, legal, customer protection, and security-related risks.
This tightening of rules is expected to apply to even individual Indian Bitcoin investors and traders. A 'MoneyControl' report said that 20 percent of taxes would be levied if Bitcoins were held for at least 36 months.
According to reports, there are at least 11 Indian Bitcoin trading platforms online which claim that about 30,000 customers are actively trading at any given point of time.
Just yesterday, Business Standard reported that the short-term capital gains tax of 30 percent is likely to be levied if Bitcoin is held for less than three years.
[UPDATE: The Bitcoin startups that YourStory spoke to following the news of the IT survey, said they were unable to give any details. They also said the founders and employees were not allowed to leave the premises during the survey.]