Blockchain Technology and the Allocation of Taxing Rights to Payments Related to Initial Coin Offerings

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The author explores one of the most debated technologies of recent times – blockchain technology – from an international tax perspective. The focus is on its main principles in its current stage and how the technology may create value in certain use cases. Being one of the most common use cases benefitting from the main principles of blockchain technology, it is analysed how capital raised through initial coin offerings and the investors’ return on their invested capital should be classified according to the OECD Model Tax Convention 2017. More specifically, emphasis is placed on classification of capital raised through the issuing of utility tokens, debt tokens, and equity tokens as well as the classification of return on investments in such tokens. Among other things, it is concluded: 1) that capital raised through the issuing of utility tokens in some initial coin offerings may be subject to a shared taxing right; 2) and that Article 21 of the OECD Model Tax Convention 2017 may, to a greater extent, be applicable with regards to the classification of the investors’ return on investment in tokens compared to return on more ‘traditional’ hybrid financial instruments. Against this background, the fundamental principles of legal certainty and neutrality are discussed. It is also recommended that policymakers provide guidance on the classification of capital raised through initial coin offerings and the investors’ return on their invested capital.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntertax
Volume48
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)879-903
Number of pages25
ISSN0165-2826
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • OECD model tax convention
  • Tax treaty classification
  • International tax law
  • Tax policy
  • Blockchain technology
  • Initial coin offering
  • Hybrid financial instrument
  • Financial innovation

Cite this