Original Research

An analysis of issues relating to the taxation of cryptocurrencies as financial instruments

Remerta Basson
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 13, No 1 | a487 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v13i1.487 | © 2020 Remerta Basson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2019 | Published: 28 April 2020

About the author(s)

Remerta Basson, School of Accountancy, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Orientation: This article examines the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions performed by natural persons in South Africa.

Research purpose: The aim of this article was to document the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions subsequent to the inclusion of cryptocurrency in the definition of ‘financial instrument’ in section 1(1) of the Income Tax Act No. 58 of 1962, and to determine whether this inclusion gives rise to unanticipated issues.

Motivation for the study: This investigation was necessitated by the distinguishing features of cryptocurrency that differentiate it from other financial instruments.

Research approach/design and method: This article falls within the reform-orientated genre of doctrinal research. A desktop literature review was conducted to determine the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions, based on an interpretation of relevant legislation and a review of secondary commentary. Key issues identified in the normal tax treatment of cryptocurrency transactions were documented, and recommendations were made for addressing the issues identified.

Main findings: A misalignment may occur between taxable incomes and economic gains of taxpayers engaged in cryptocurrency mining.

Practical/managerial implications: The South African Revenue Service (SARS) should allow for a deduction equivalent to the market value of cryptocurrency acquired through cryptocurrency mining in terms of section 22(2)(a).

Contribution/value-add: A risk of misalignment between taxable incomes and economic gains of taxpayers performing cryptocurrency mining has been identified and documented, which may inform legislative amendment, or the practice of the SARS.


cryptocurrency; bitcoin; virtual currency; barter transactions; section 22(4)


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Crossref Citations

1. An analysis of South Africa’s guidance on the income tax consequences of crypto assets
Namhla Vumazonke, Shaun Parsons
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences  vol: 26  issue: 1  year: 2023  
doi: 10.4102/sajems.v26i1.4832