Belgian sentiment on Bitcoin is improving with the launch of the first Bitcoin ATM and confirmation by government that digital currency payments will not be subject to VAT.
A response obtained by startup Belgacoin from Belgium’s Federal Public Service Finance (FPS) indicated that prior to an EU-wide directive being issued, the country’s digital currency transactions would be exempt from VAT.
“The Belgian position is likely to change according to the position of the European Committee, which is trying to define a harmonization at European level,” an FPS representative later told CoinDesk.
With a decision in this regard not expected any time soon, however, the door has essentially been left open for Belgian startups to compete on the world stage with relative financial ease. Similarly, the recent uptick in the fortunes of several altcoins could well see their inclusion in a potential digital currency boom in the country.
“It’s nice for us, because we’re trying to make it easier to buy for customers,” Belgacoin commented.
The relaxed attitude to taxation mimics that of the UK, whose registered digital currency entities are also VAT-exempt.
However, whereas the climate in the latter has elsewhere become difficult, notably in the turmoil faced by Isle of Man startups over banking facilities, the situation in Belgium is being seen in an altogether more positive light.
In July, the Financial Markets and Services Authority (FSMA) announced a complete ban on Bitcoin derivatives, but Filip Roose, whose company Orillia last week unveiled Belgium’s first Bitcoin ATM, told Cointelegraph this is by no means a problematic step.
“… Derivatives, whether it is wine, art or bitcoins, mostly are very dangerous. The ban therefore not only was put on Bitcoin, but also any other financial derivative, open to individuals.”
- Filip Roose
He added that in the months following the announcement, nothing had changed for entities operating in the Belgian Bitcoin space. Furthermore, a recent Q&A session of the Belgian Federal Chamber revealed dialogue between lawmakers and Bitcoin representative bodies is gathering pace.
“The BNB [National Bank of Belgium]and FSMA are following developments of late, by means among others of contact with the Belgian Bitcoin Association, a non-profit founded very recently (February 2014) to promote Bitcoin in Belgium,” it wrote on its website.
Roose, who founded the Association, welcomes this especially.
“[We] have good contacts with [the Federal Chamber] through the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) and the FSMA. I personally went to those instances and have had those meetings with them,” he said. “Even though we don't say a lot to each other right now, we have the contacts and the communication has always been open towards each other.”
Open dialogue of this kind has the potential to make Belgium the envy of Bitcoin in the EU, as relations and financial freedom are by no means uniform in the area. Estonia and Poland, CoinDesk commented, have introduced VAT for digital currency transactions of 20% and 23% respectively, ahead of any international consensus being reached.
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