While Australia holds off on removing the double taxation of digital currencies, researchers have said that they could in fact replace cash altogether in the country – in as little as 10 years.
While Australian Treasury Department representative Kate Preston went on record Wednesday to say that it has “no issues with the way that the ATO has dealt with [digital currency],” researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have concluded that it “will have to be addressed by federal government” and that Australia could be a cashless society within the next decade.
Speaking to ABC News, Professor Rabee Tourky said that government treatment reform was necessary “if it wants to maintain control over the financial side of the economy.”
“I'm sure the Reserve Bank of Australia is thinking about these things,” he added, on the back of a study which found that a state-sponsored digital currency would alleviate the concerns around currencies such as bitcoin while allowing the public to take full advantage of the advances offered by paperless money.
AusBit, the name given to this interim currency by Tourky, is similar in nature to possible systems suggested by the European Central Bank this week, but with a more emphatic Bitcoin link. Tourky commented to Vine:
“In 10 years’ time there won’t be any paper cash. The big question is what’s going to replace it in Australia? Will it be Bitcoin? I don’t think so. More likely it will be ‘AusBit’[…].”
Tourky’s buoyant remarks do not echo those made by lawmakers to Wednesday’s Economic Reference Committee hearing. The director of the Attorney-General's Financial Crime Section, Daniel Mossop, urged caution with regard to Bitcoin-esque digital currencies, citing its “attractiveness” for criminals and the difficulty of tracking transactions.
“They can cross borders, and payments can be made directly to people anywhere in the world. We can see who's buying [bitcoins] and who's selling them, to a large extent, but we lose visibility of what happens within the system,” he said.
Preston meanwhile kept to the tax agenda, stating that “[t]he Treasury view would be that, taxation is not where you start.” However, some unlikely support came in from Brett Peterson of the ATO's Tax Council Network, who told the hearing that “if another country unilaterally adopted bitcoin as its official fiat currency, then it could be treated locally as foreign currency, and taxed appropriately,” ZDNet reports.
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