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Is Bitcoin Legal in New Zealand? NZ Bitcoin Legality and Taxes Explained

Take a closer look and learn about the regulations surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in New Zealand.

Posted June 30, 2019

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The legality of cryptocurrency is a topic that’s been on the minds of Kiwis ever since crypto started to gain traction in New Zealand.

It’s no surprise, considering cryptocurrency is a new asset class and there are numerous misconceptions surrounding crypto – legality being one of them, that may cause confusion to some.

But fear not – we are hear to debunk and bring clarity to the legality of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies for that matter in New Zealand.

Now, let’s jump straight into the elephant in the room.

Is Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies legal in New Zealand?

Yes, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are completely legal in the country of New Zealand.

In fact, cryptocurrency is legal in most developed countries. If you have heard otherwise, rest assured that what you have heard is either wrong or outdated. Investing, trading, and using bitcoin for legal purchases are all perfectly above board.

New Zealand Dollars Image

New Zealand is one of the most digital currency-friendly countries in the world. At least, that is the case as far as regulation is concerned.

It is perfectly fine to buy Bitcoin just like you would foreign currency or gold bullion.

However Bitcoin is not considered a currency in New Zealand, i.e. it is not “legal tender” like the New Zealand dollar or the US dollar, instead it’s seen as a type of property.

Overview of New Zealand Bitcoin tax laws

If you own bitcoin or are considering buying bitcoin, it is important to understand what tax reporting obligations might apply.

Calculator, cryptocurrency tax reports, Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), and Monero are illustrated as physical coins

Cryptocurrency in New Zealand is not taxed in the same way as foreign currency investments. Instead, bitcoin (and other forms of digital currency) is taxed in the same way as property.

When do I need to pay tax on the bitcoin I own in NZ?

The easiest way to know when tax applies to cryptocurrency in NZ is to think of buying bitcoin like buying a house. When you buy a property, you do not pay tax.

However, when you sell a property, tax is applied to any profit you make from a sale – if you purchased the property with the intent of making a profit.

With cryptocurrencies, most people are buying with the intent of making a profit, so therefore tax applies.

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If you think that isn’t the case for you, we’d strongly recommend you get some good advice on this, as particular activity (such as trading) can undermine your claims that you weren’t intending to make profits. For more detailed advice, have a chat with Tim from Cryptocurrency Tax NZ.

Record every crypto disposal event

Most Kiwis buy bitcoin to hold like a long-term investment asset. If this is how you intend to invest, calculating the applicable tax is pretty straightforward.

However, if you intend to trade or make purchases with coins, tax can get a little more complicated.

In the eyes of the IRD, any time you dispose of cryptocurrency is a taxable event.

  • If you trade bitcoin for other altcoins, tax is applicable on any profit resulting from any trade.
  • Tax is applicable whenever you exchange cryptocurrency for fiat cash.
  • When you buy a product or service using bitcoin, tax is applicable as this is a disposal of the cryptocurrency.

Naturally, calculating how much tax you owe when disposing of bitcoin is difficult when doing so in retrospect.

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In this case, the best way to calculate any tax owed is to record the NZD to BTC exchange rate at the time of purchase and cashing out.

It is perfectly legal for brick and mortar and e-commerce businesses to accept bitcoin payments in New Zealand, and you can see the list of them here.

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However, when receiving bitcoin payments as a merchant, it is necessary to calculate the value of coins as you receive them. One easy way to do this is to use a BTC payments platform that instantly converts BTC into U.S. or New Zealand dollars.

I didn’t know I had to pay taxes on bitcoin – What do I do now?

If you have already bought and disposed of bitcoin, don’t worry.

For the most part, the IRD understands that some Kiwis are not aware of their cryptocurrency tax obligations.

It is, therefore, possible to make a voluntary disclosure concerning past Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) disposals. For full details visit: https://www.classic.ird.govt.nz/income-tax-individual/cryptocurrency-qa.html

You can see our full guide on Cryptocurrency and Tax in New Zealand here.

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Is it possible to avoid cryptocurrency taxes?

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are perceived by some as a way to decouple from the IRD and the mainstream monetary system.

However, that doesn’t change your obligations to pay tax on the profit that you make from these activities. When in doubt, simply talk to a professional tax consultant like Cryptocurrency Tax NZ or contact the IRD directly.

What are your thoughts on the legality of bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general as a form of payment in New Zealand?

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Disclaimer: Information is current as at the date of publication. This is general information only and is not intended to be advice. Crypto is volatile, carries risk and the value can go up and down. Past performance is not an indicator of future returns. Please do your own research.

Last updated May 29, 2022

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