Bitcoin ruled tax-free in Europe – here's how to buy them
The European Court of Justice has ruled that bitcoins can be exchanged tax-free
In what stands to have broad implications for Bitcoin's standing in Europe, the EU's top court has ruled on Thursday that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies will not be subject to value added tax (VAT), meaning they can be exchanged tax-free.
The case was brought to the court after a Swedish citizen, David Hedqvist, requested to establish a Bitcoin exchange allowing people to buy and sell Swedish krona for the popular virtual currency. The Swedish Tax Authority subsequently referred the issue to the European Court of Justice, asking for clarification on:
" Whether or not a service for remuneration rendered by a bitcoin (virtual currency) exchange can be treated as a VAT relevant service; and  in case the bitcoin (virtual currency) exchange service is VAT relevant, whether a VAT exemption can be applied."
The decision to make Bitcoin operations exempt from VAT allows people in Europe to buy and sell the currency without paying taxes. This will come as good news for Bitcoin startups throughout the EU, and makes a convincing argument for the use of the currency in international transactions.
The European Court of Justice's ruling comes in the wake of several Bitcoin VAT exemptions by EU member states, including Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. The latter clarified its position in June, with the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) reacting to a formal question submitted the year before.
How to buy bitcoins
- Set up a bitcoin wallet to store your prospective bitcoins.
- Visit a reputable website that will let you exchange your Fiat currency for bitcoin.
- Supply your wallet ID to a seller so that an exchange can take place.
- Transfer money from bank account into exchange or to seller.
- Wait for bitcoins to arrive in wallet.
- Go forth and spend.
How to buy bitcoins in detail
1. Set up a bitcoin wallet
Before you rush out and buy some digital money, make sure you have a safe place to keep them this is what your bitcoin wallet is for.
There are plenty of places to obtain wallets, with many cryptocurrency exchanges offering their own wallets for you to use.
But while it may seem sensible to sign up for a wallet with the exchange you plan to do business with, this isn't always the best move, as some are unstable.
You're far safer opting for a third-party wallet. These wallets also usually have the added benefit of allowing you to store different currencies in the same place, so if you get bitcoin fever, you have somewhere to store all those alternative coins you fancy buying.
While there are plenty of safe wallets to choose from, we recommendCoinbase thanks to its ease of use, clean interface, and handy iOS and Android app. In fact, Coinbase now also allows you to buy bitcoins from others too.
2. Exchange your Fiat currency for bitcoin
Now you have your wallet, it's time to get rid of your common pounds, dollars, euros or whatever currency you use and invest in the future.
There are many ways to attain bitcoins. You can purchase them from an exchange; via a wallet service; at face-to-face meetups, from a physical bitcoin ATM; or you can have a go at mining some yourself.
Purchasing from an exchange or wallet is an exercise in tedium thanks to having all the bureaucratic hoops. However, if you're happy not to be anonymous, and want to trade regularly, exchanges and wallets are a great choice.
If you want to see which exchanges you can easily buy from, visit Howtobuybitcoins.info for a list of every exchange registered in your country.
Purchasing face to face or via an ATM provides you with anonymity, but it can be more expensive than via an exchange or wallet.
If you're thinking about mining bitcoins yourself don't. The process has become too intensive for any home computer, and investing in the machines needed to mine the ever-diminishing pool of coins is not cost-effective enough.
If you'd like a blissfully simple way to obtain bitcoins online, we recommend visiting Bittylicious. Despite the terrible name and basic web design, it's a great place that connects buyers with sellers, and without you even having to deal with anyone at all.
3. Supply your wallet ID to the Seller
No matter how you decide to obtain bitcoins, you must send your bitcoin address to the seller or exchange to ensure your bitcoins end up in your wallet.
This 34-character encrypted address is perfectly safe to share with others as it only allows users to send money to you. Nobody can take money from you with this address, nor can they make purchases in your name. It's just one way that bitcoin manages to stay secure for everyday transactions.
If you're opting for the bitcoin ATM route, then don't worry about your bitcoin address: all the information you'll need to obtain your bitcoins will be on a print-out or sent automatically to you upon scanning a QR code.
4. Send the seller or exchange your money
If you don't fancy making a bank transfer, some services will let you pay via other means such as by credit card. However, you should be incredibly careful doing this with a site you're unsure about. Bank transfer is really the safest method for both parties, which is why only a few places allow for alternative payment methods.
One reason why we like Bittylicious so much is because for UK residents it offers alternative payment methods such as PayM, Barclays PingIt, Natwest PYC and credit/debit cards.
If you plan to purchase from a bitcoin ATM, all you have to do is insert your money into the ATM.
5. Wait for your bitcoins to come rolling in
If you've followed those steps, all you have to do now is sit back and let the bitcoins arrive.
Using a bitcoin ATM means the money should arrive almost instantly, and exchanges and wallets will usually have the cryptocurrency waiting for you shortly.
Some services take longer, but you can watch the progress of your transfer, and you won't lose them once the process has started.
Bittylicious guarantees a transfer within two hours or you get your money back in general, it normally doesn't take that long.
6. Go forth and spend.
Now that you have your bitcoins, it's time to go and spend them.
More and more retailers and merchants are accepting bitcoins and other alternative coins.
Feeling hungry? Takeaway.com lets you pay for your local takeaway with bitcoin. How about a holiday? PrivateFly lets you pay in bitcoin for a private jet flight to your destination of choice. Or, you could just head to Coinmapand see all the businesses near you that accept bitcoin.
This article originally appeared on sister title Alphr.
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