11 cryptocurrency trading exchanges have been fined for evading GST dues amounting to a total of over Rs 81 crore, the Ministry of Finance said in a parliamentary response on Monday. In most of the cases that the government laid out, authorities recovered a higher amount than the evasion in penalties and interest.
The most significant sum of unpaid GST dues came from WazirX, one of the country’s largest exchanges, which was said to have Rs 40.51 crore in unpaid dues; authorities recovered Rs 49.18 crore from the company. Not all exchanges had to pay such a steep penalty, though — BuyUcoin paid a mere Rs 5 lakh in addition to the Rs 1.05 crore it owed in dues.
WazirX told Entrackr in a statement that it “has been diligently paying tens of crores worth of GST every month. There was an ambiguity in the interpretation of one of the components which led to a different calculation of GST paid. However, we voluntarily paid additional GST in order to be cooperative and compliant. There was and is no intention to evade tax.”
We have reached out to the other exchanges concerned for comment.
The revelation comes even as the government considers ways to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, worrying investors in the field that it is making moves that stop short of a ban, but still dissuade potential customers from participating.
For instance, while the government has taxed cryptocurrencies and digital assets like NFTs at 30%, it has said that it has done so because it has a “sovereign right” of taxation, not because these virtual digital assets, as it calls them, are legal.
In another move that worried players in the crypto industry, the government said that investors wouldn’t be able to adjust losses on crypto investments against dues on profits.