“I love talking about Bitcoin,” exclaimed Reuben Bramanathan at the start of our conversation.
The tax lawyer, based in Sydney, Australia, caters to small and medium-sized enterprises. He does a lot of work for technology businesses, mainly providing tax planning and advice. He is also well versed in tax transactions and disputes with the revenue authorities in Australia.
Bramanathan, a senior lawyer at Adroit Lawyers, has been following Bitcoin since 2011. At first he was interested in it as a hobby, mostly out of curiosity for the technology behind it. Then in 2013 he became intrigued by some very complex legal and tax questions about Bitcoin. As the digital currency started to move into the mainstream in 2014, he began analyzing its tax implications.
Bramanathan was involved with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Department of Treasury in early 2014. He lent his expertise to the ATO to help develop the rules for taxation of Bitcoin in Australia. Revenue authorities in many jurisdictions are struggling with the tax outcomes for consumers and companies using Bitcoin as the digital currency moves towards universal acceptance. The ATO is now developing its position, with a view to publishing directives in the near future.
Bramanathan says he has been reading everything he can find about Bitcoin for the past couple of years. He is a member of the Bitcoin Association of Australia and works closely with the Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association – the two leading Bitcoin organizations in Australia. He joined the groups because they promote sharing of knowledge, and this exchange of ideas helps him to better understand Bitcoin’s potential.
He has worked with Bitcoin business owners, Bitcoin exchanges, accountants and other lawyers to help them understand a bit more about digital currency. He hosts the monthly meetings of the Sydney Bitcoin Professionals Group, an association over 100 business professionals which meets to talk about digital currency, including Bitcoin.
He believes that, with the support of the international and local communities, Bitcoin can become a valid alternative to conventional currencies. He thinks that this will enhance the Australian economy and enable wider access to it. He eagerly anticipates the day when there is broad-scale merchant acceptance and, thereby, convenience for international travelers.
Bramanathan works very closely with his peer professionals, and his firm has deep international connections with law firms in other countries. He says he is always looking to build connections internationally.
When asked for advice for current and emerging Bitcoiners, Bramanathan said, “The taxes and regulations around Bitcoin are still being developed. Unfortunately there are no clear answers yet. So be very careful about new transactions and new ways you’re using Bitcoin.” He added that Bitcoiners should seek professional advice about local laws and regulations.
Bramanathan encouraged Bitcoin users and businesses to actively contribute to the digital currency community. He noted, “it’s by making these connections and understanding the different ways that people and businesses are using Bitcoin that we can have a better grasp of the implications for everyone.”
His second piece of advice was for business owners to try to understand the technology behind Bitcoin. “Talk to software developers, engineers and IT people and make sure you understand the way the blockchain works, and the way the public keys and private keys work. That will help you understand the way that taxes and the regulations might apply to the technology.”