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Author Topic: Customs tax and Bitcoin  (Read 5648 times)
gsan
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December 24, 2011, 01:53:42 AM
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So I went to the customs office (in Malta) to get the merchandise I bought online with Bitcoin. They ask for a Paypal receipt (?!) or an invoice. I don't have either of them, but they say they'd accept a printout from the web site's order page. In a hurry I get a print out and hand it. They ask me what BTC is. I blabber something unintelligible to get it over with, but they go and check anyway. They tell me it's Bitcoin and the exchange rate is ~2.99. I pay my customs tax and get my box.

I'm pretty excited about this, and interested in others' similar experiences. Also, I don't know from which source they checked the exchange rate, so what do you think should be the authoritative source for government entities? Which generic sources publish BTC exchange rates?

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Yankee (BitInstant)
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December 24, 2011, 03:07:09 AM
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Very cool!

Did they tell you anything else? Give you a hard time?

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gsan
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December 24, 2011, 03:45:31 AM
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Did they tell you anything else? Give you a hard time?

Not at all, the lady just raised an eyebrow while saying Bitcoin and went on calculating. The fact that I tried to obscure it and they told me about Bitcoin is actually a shame on my part. Wink I wasn't expecting them to be so cool about it. Though it was obvious that they heard it the first time.

lonelyminer (Peter Šurda)
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December 24, 2011, 09:03:24 AM
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This is good news. It can be used as a precedent in case there are questions about legality of Bitcoin. I presume they took the exchange rate from the time of paying the tax, right? 2.99 EUR / BTC is about what it's now.
gsan
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December 24, 2011, 01:46:27 PM
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I presume they took the exchange rate from the time of paying the tax, right?

Yep, I had to pay more tax than I'm supposed to, though it would be the same for USD, albeit with less volatility.

What I was wondering is, what if they asked me what the rate was? What kind of proof could I've used. At the spot I was pondering about suggesting bitcoinwatch, but it is not a generic source and might not have seemed authoritative (anyone can put up such a website). Would be pretty nice if Google did it. They have Esperanto, why not Bitcoin? Smiley

Another question is, if Google decided to support BTC conversions, which source would you suggest they use? Anyone can publish any price they want, and AFAIK no one is bound by law to be transparent about it (not that I think it's necessary, but that would be the first thing a legally responsible entity would ask). For instance, if I was gathering an average value from all exchanges weighted by volume, any one of them could artificially inflate its volume to affect the price. Am I thinking too much?

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December 24, 2011, 02:07:22 PM
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I wonder if it's possible to have a price stamp on the block along with the timestamp?

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lonelyminer (Peter Šurda)
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December 24, 2011, 05:11:17 PM
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Yep, I had to pay more tax than I'm supposed to, though it would be the same for USD, albeit with less volatility.
Well, I'm not sure here now, but the law probably says that one of the rates (date of purchase, date of import, date of paying VAT) is applicable.

What I was wondering is, what if they asked me what the rate was?
Normally, the rate that is taken is the rate that is published by the central banks (in your case, the ECB), so there's no ambiguity. Since the ECB does not publish "official" exchange rate for Bitcoin, the one prevailing on markets should be used.

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Another question is, if Google decided to support BTC conversions, which source would you suggest they use? Anyone can publish any price they want, and AFAIK no one is bound by law to be transparent about it (not that I think it's necessary, but that would be the first thing a legally responsible entity would ask). For instance, if I was gathering an average value from all exchanges weighted by volume, any one of them could artificially inflate its volume to affect the price. Am I thinking too much?
I would use the spot price from the exchanges. Since the volatility is so high, for the purposes of tax calculation probably precedents would have to be set.

Also, after having thought about it for a while, what you paid for probably was not an import levy, but VAT. Most goods imported into EU are not subject to import levies, but almost everything is subject to VAT.
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December 24, 2011, 06:19:52 PM
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Googling BTC didn't give much relevant results, so I suspect they googled 'BTC value', which clearly shows it's bitcoin. The second link is a link to bitcoincharts. It looks pretty legit, and gives a good overview of the prices in different currencies on the front page.

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December 25, 2011, 02:31:29 PM
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Also, after having thought about it for a while, what you paid for probably was not an import levy, but VAT. Most goods imported into EU are not subject to import levies, but almost everything is subject to VAT.

I guess the amount I paid over its BTC price was VAT. I paid some additional tax on the contents.

EDIT: Yeah, 18% VAT, 3.7% Import Duty, and a minor Excise Duty.

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January 05, 2012, 12:09:14 AM
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Also, after having thought about it for a while, what you paid for probably was not an import levy, but VAT. Most goods imported into EU are not subject to import levies, but almost everything is subject to VAT.

I guess the amount I paid over its BTC price was VAT. I paid some additional tax on the contents.

EDIT: Yeah, 18% VAT, 3.7% Import Duty, and a minor Excise Duty.


Did you get a receipt?

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January 05, 2012, 08:40:27 PM
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Hang on, where did they get the 2.99 valuation from?

gsan
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January 16, 2012, 01:53:31 PM
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EDIT: Yeah, 18% VAT, 3.7% Import Duty, and a minor Excise Duty.
Did you get a receipt?

Yes, it even says | Invoice Currency: BTC |.

Hang on, where did they get the 2.99 valuation from?

I wish I queried about it more persistently. Wink Will do the next time...

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