Portugal's Tax and Customs Authority, or Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira (AT), published guidelines (in Portuguese) of how certain tokens could be taxed.
The publication came in response to a company that is planning an initial coin offering on the Ethereum platform and requested clarification as to whether its token would qualify for a value-added tax (VAT) exemption. Per the translation, "It intends to build an electronic commerce platform called MMM. This platform will be global and will have a currency or token that is necessary for users to utilize the service." It should be noted that MMM has previously been accused of being a Ponzi scheme.
VAT is a system by which products are taxed at each stage of production from manufacturing to sale, instead of only having tax applied at the end point of sale. Most goods and services purchased within the European Union are subject to VAT, but exports sold abroad are usually exempt. According to the document, MMM explained that its customers "may come from around the world, some Portuguese, many from the Euro zone and still more from outside, [such as the] USA, China, etc.."
Whether a VAT will apply depends on the parties involved in the transaction as well as the nature of the good or service, and because cryptocurrency tokens can be used in many different ways, the taxation of the digital assets must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The AT determined that if a token is used in an exchange for a good or service, or for a function such as to execute an EDCC, it should not be exempt from a VAT. However a coin could qualify for an exemption when exchanged for another currency or legal tender.
How this particular coin will be used in the future is still to be seen, but the recent guidelines indicate the need for taxation laws to be based around how individual coins work instead of creating one law to rule them all.
Defining how a token is used for taxation purposes is not a new concept. In April, ETHNews reported that The Council of State in France defined cryptocurrencies as movable property, which drastically reduced the amount of taxes owed by investors. In the same month, Poland's Ministry of Finance decided that gains made by trading cryptocurrencies are subject to taxation.
Translations approximated using Google Translate.