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Russian Duma passes bill to remove VAT, lower income tax rates on digital asset sales

Russia is turning to blockchain technology in an effort to counteract the economic isolation brought on by the sanctions imposed due to its invasion of Ukraine.

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, has passed a bill on the taxation of digital assets that exempts their sale from value-added tax (VAT) in the Russian Federation. Some other services of digital asset exchanges will also be exempted, according to state-run news service RIA Novosti. 

In addition, the bill established income tax rates of 13% for Russian exchanges on the first 5 million rubles (currently about U$93,000) of the taxable base annually, 15% on amounts above that limit and 15% across the board for foreign exchange operators. The current tax rate for companies is 20%.

The taxation of digital assets under the bill is analogous to securities taxes, RIA Novosti reports. The government noted in the bill that a separate tax procedure for digital assets is key to the creation of an effective and competitive digital economy.

Related: Bank of Russia backs cross-border crypto payments vs. domestic trade

Russia has tempered its skeptical stance on cryptocurrency as the country has increasingly felt the pressure of Western economic sanctions stemming from its invasion of Ukraine. Major Russian banks have been blocked from the SWIFT system and G7 countries this week banned the purchase of newly mined or refined Russian gold. Those moves, along with a host of other sanctions, led to Russia’s reported default on foreign debt servicing Monday.

Russia’s Sber bank is preparing to launch a stablecoin, and Russian Central Bank first deputy chair Olga Skorobogatova stated in an interview dated on Thursday that trials of a digital ruble will be moved up from 2024 to April 2023. A pilot project involving 12 Russian banks is underway.

“I think all self-respecting states will have a national digital currency within three years. […] We should be ready as soon as possible. Plus, this will settle the issue of being blocked from SWIFT, because this integration will make SWIFT unnecessary,” Skorobogatova said.