JAN 26, 2024
Dramatic crypto tax take decline recorded in Indonesia
Indonesia witnessed a striking decline in cryptocurrency tax revenue for the year 2023, according to local media.
A report by Indonesian business and financial publication Kontan detailed a tax take drop to $31.7 million (Indonesian rupiah 467.27 billion). That tax collection is in sharp contrast to the partial collection period in 2022 when the crypto tax regime was initially introduced. It represents a drop of around 63%.
The decline is part of a broader tax reform targeting the “digital economy” implemented in 2022, with the Indonesian government expressing the expectation that the reform would enhance tax collection, fostering a “healthy and fair taxation system.”
Declining transaction volumes
Despite bitcoin’s impressive surge of approximately 160% throughout 2023, the dip in crypto tax revenue was notable. The decrease is closely tied to a drop in transaction volumes over the same period compared to 2022. A report by CoinDesk Indonesia last week put that trading volume decrease at around 60%.
Crypto transactions in Indonesia face dual taxation — a 0.1% income tax and a 0.11% value-added tax (VAT). Additionally, local crypto exchanges are subject to a special tax of approximately 0.04%, contributing to the national digital asset bourse.
Disadvantaging local exchanges
Local exchanges in Indonesia, including prominent ones like Indodax, have voiced discontent with the high tax rates, contending that these levies are driving users towards unregulated offshore exchanges.
Earlier this month Indodax CEO Oscar Darmawan called on the Indonesian government to review crypto tax rates. Darmawan highlighted that the cumulative taxes on crypto transactions often surpass the trading fees paid by users, posing a risk of users seeking more cost-effective alternatives.
Local exchanges suggest that crypto transactions should only be subject to income tax, eliminating the VAT component. This proposal comes as Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) prepares to implement cryptocurrency regulations in early 2025. The aim is to align the taxation of cryptocurrencies with their market nature, possibly redefining them more as securities than commodities.
Inadequate tax regulation can lead to a decline in local market activities, potentially resulting in capital flight to more favorable jurisdictions. Indonesia’s situation serves as a reminder of the crucial need for policies that understand and adapt to the dynamic nature of the cryptocurrency sector.
India is being similarly challenged. Local exchanges there have also complained of punitive taxation, which resulted in Indian users migrating to offshore exchanges. That scenario led indigenous exchanges to lobby the government to take action. The authorities have duly acted, flagging a number of global exchanges for operating illegally within India.
It’s not all bad news for the development of digital assets within Indonesia. The country still ranks highly in terms of crypto adoption within the Asian region. Crypto was also floated as an election issue recently by Gibran Rakabuming Raka, a vice-presidential candidate in the upcoming election. The politician expressed his commitment to accelerating the country’s position as a leader in the digital revolution.