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ATO Australian tax treatment for options trades 🇦🇺

I am posting this as I hope it will help other Australian options traders trading in US options with their tax treatment for ATO (Australian Tax Office) purposes. The ATO provides very little guidance on tax treatment for options trading and I had to do a lot of digging to get to this point. I welcome any feedback on this post.

The Deloitte Report from 2011

My initial research led me to this comprehensive Deloitte report from 2011 which is hosted on the ASX website. I've been through this document about 20 times and although it's a great report to understand how different scenarios apply, it's still really hard to find out what's changed since 2011.
I am mainly relating myself to the scenario of being an individual and non-sole trader (no business set up) for my trading. I think this will apply to many others here too. According to that document, there isn't much guidance on what happens when you're an options premium seller and close positions before they expire.
Note that the ATO sometimes uses the term "ETO" (Exchange Traded Option) to discuss what we're talking about here with options trading.
Also note: The ATO discusses the separate Capital Gains Tax ("CGT") events that occur in each scenario in some of their documents. A CGT event will then determine what tax treatment gets applied if you don't know much about capital gains in Australia.

ATO Request for Advice

Since the Deloitte report didn't answer my questions, I eventually ended up contacting the ATO with a request for advice and tried to explain my scenario: I'm an Australian resident for tax purposes, I'm trading with tastyworks in $USD, I'm primarily a premium seller and I don't have it set up with any business/company/trust etc. In effect, I have a rough idea that I'm looking at capital gains tax but I wanted to fully understand how it worked.
Initially the ATO respondent didn't understand what I was talking about when I said that I was selling a position first and buying it to close. According to the laws, there is no example of this given anywhere because it is always assumed in ATO examples that you buy a position and sell it. Why? I have no idea.
I sent a follow up request with even more detail to the ATO. I think (hope) they understood what I meant now after explaining what an options premium seller is!

Currency Gains/Losses

First, I have to consider translating my $USD to Australian dollars. How do we treat that?
FX Translation
If the premium from selling the options contract is received in $USD, do I convert it to $AUD on that day it is received?
ATO response:
Subsection 960-50(6), Item 5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) states the amount should be translated at the time of the transaction or event for the purposes of the Capital Gains Tax provisions. For the purpose of granting an option to an entity, the time of the event is when you grant the option (subsection 104-20(2) ITAA 1997).
This is a very detailed response which even refers to the level of which section in the law it is coming from. I now know that I need to translate my trades from $USD to $AUD according to the RBA's translation rates for every single trade.
But what about gains or losses on translation?
There is one major rule that overrides FX gains and losses after digging deeper. The ATO has a "$250k balance election". This will probably apply to a lot of people trading in balances below $250k a lot of the FX rules don't apply. It states:
However, the $250,000 balance election broadly enables you to disregard certain foreign currency gains and losses on certain foreign currency denominated bank accounts and credit card accounts (called qualifying forex accounts) with balances below a specified limit.
Therefore, I'm all good disregarding FX gains and losses! I just need to ensure I translate my trades on the day they occurred. It's a bit of extra admin to do unfortunately, but it is what it is.

Credit Trades

This is the scenario where we SELL a position first, collect premium, and close the position by making an opposite BUY order. Selling a naked PUT, for example.
What happens when you open the position? ATO Response:
The option is grantedCGT event D2 happens when a taxpayer grants an option. The time of the event is when the option is granted. The capital gain or loss arising is the difference between the capital proceeds and the expenditure incurred to grant the option.
This seems straight forward. We collect premium and record a capital gain.
What happens when you close the position? ATO Response:
Closing out an optionThe establishment of an ETO contract is referred to as opening a position (ASX Explanatory Booklet 'Understanding Options Trading'). A person who writes (sells) a call or put option may close out their position by taking (buying) an identical call or put option in the same series. This is referred to as the close-out of an option or the closing-out of an opening position.
CGT event C2 happens when a taxpayer's ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends. Paragraph 104-25(1)(a) of the ITAA 1997 provides that ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends by cancellation, surrender, or release or similar means.
CGT event C2 therefore happens to a taxpayer when their position under an ETO is closed out where the close-out results in the cancellation, release or discharge of the ETO.
Under subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997 you make a capital gain from CGT event C2 if the capital proceeds from the ending are more than the assets cost base. You make a capital loss if those capital proceeds are less than the assets reduced cost base.
Both CGT events (being D2 upon granting the option and C2 upon adopting the close out position) must be accounted for if applicable to a situation.
My take on this is that the BUY position that cancels out your SELL position will most often simply realise a capital loss (the entire portion of your BUY position). In effect, it 'cancels out' your original premium sold, but it's not recorded that way, it's recorded as two separate CGT events - your capital gain from CGT event D2 (SELL position), then, your capital loss from CGT event C2 (BUY position) is also recorded. In effect, they net each other out, but you don't record them as a 'netted out' number - you record them separately.
From what I understand, if you were trading as a sole tradecompany then you would record them as a netted out capital gain or loss, because the trades would be classified as trading stock but not in our case here as an individual person trading options. The example I've written below should hopefully make that clearer.
EXAMPLE:
Trade on 1 July 2020: Open position
Trade on 15 July 2020: Close position
We can see from this simple example that even though you made a gain on those trades, you still have to record the transactions separately, as first a gain, then as a loss. Note that it is not just a matter of netting off the value of the net profit collected and converting the profit to $AUD because the exchange rate will be different on the date of the opening trade and on the date of the closing trade we have to record them separately.

What if you don't close the position and the options are exercised? ATO Response:
The option is granted and then the option is exercisedUnder subsection 104-40(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) the capital gain or loss from the CGT event D2 is disregarded if the option is exercised. Subsection 134-1(1), item 1, of the ITAA 1997 refers to the consequences for the grantor of the exercise of the option.
Where the option binds the grantor to dispose of a CGT asset section 116-65 of the ITAA 1997 applies to the transaction.
Subsection 116-65(2) of the ITAA 1997 provides that the capital proceeds from the grant or disposal of the shares (CGT asset) include any payment received for granting the option. The disposal of the shares is a CGT event A1 which occurs under subsection 104-10(3) of the ITAA 1997 when the contract for disposal is entered into.
You would still make a capital gain at the happening of the CGT event D2 in the year the event occurs (the time the option is granted). That capital gain is disregarded when the option is exercised. Where the option is exercised in the subsequent tax year, the CGT event D2 gain is disregarded at that point. An amendment may be necessary to remove the gain previously included in taxable income for the year in which the CGT event D2 occurred.
This scenario is pretty unlikely - for me personally I never hold positions to expiration, but it is nice to know what happens with the tax treatment if it ultimately does come to that.

Debit Trades

What about the scenario when you want to BUY some options first, then SELL that position and close it later? Buying a CALL, for example. This case is what the ATO originally thought my request was about before I clarified with them. They stated:
When you buy an ETO, you acquire an asset (the ETO) for the amount paid for it (that is, the premium) plus any additional costs such as brokerage fees and the Australian Clearing House (ACH) fee. These costs together form the cost base of the ETO (section 109-5 of the ITAA 1997). On the close out of the position, you make a capital gain or loss equal to the difference between the cost base of the ETO and the amount received on its expiry or termination (subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997). The capital gain or loss is calculated on each parcel of options.
So it seems it is far easier to record debit trades for tax purposes. It is easier for the tax office to see that you open a position by buying it, and close it by selling it. And in that case you net off the total after selling it. This is very similar to a trading shares and the CGT treatment is in effect very similar (the main difference is that it is not coming under CGT event A1 because there is no asset to dispose of, like in a shares or property trade).

Other ATO Info (FYI)

The ATO also referred me to the following documents. They relate to some 'decisions' that they made from super funds but the same principles apply to individuals they said.
The ATO’s Interpretative Decision in relation to the tax treatment of premiums payable and receivable for exchange traded options can be found on the links below. Please note that the interpretative decisions below are in relation to self-managed superannuation funds but the same principles would apply in your situation [as an individual taxpayer, not as a super fund].
Premiums Receivable: ATO ID 2009/110

Some tips

submitted by cheese-mate-chen-c to options [link] [comments]

Cryptocurrency markets challenges and solutions

This has been bugging me for a while so thank you for endulging my rambling. TL;DR at the end.
I'd like for everyone to just think about what we're trying to do here. Don't forget what the ultimate goal is. Anyone remember? Is it to make a profit? No, that's a secondary goal. The primary goal is to develop widespread adoption of cryptocurrency as an alternative to fiat currency. Anyone remember this lofty goal or did we all forget this while chasing 30% daily price swings. We're trying to complete with USD, GBP, EUR, and CNY, remember?
This is EUR vs. USD. You'll note that this is all data (or click on "All" button on the bottom), going back to 1993 through today. What do you notice? You'll notice an open of $1.22 to €1. After a few months, it fell about 10%, then rose up 24% over the next two years only to drop about 40% over seven years and then almost doubling over eight years only to drop about a third in the last ten years to where it is today - almost where we were 25 years ago (approximately).
This is BTC vs. USD. You'll note that this is all data going back to 2011. During the last seven years it has... oh my God are you kidding me?! This is LTC vs. USD.
Let's not forget what we're talking about. We're talking about currency. For currency to be used, it needs to be relatively stable. Now compare the charts above. Let's say we created a new country called Cryptonia. Which of these would you like to use as currency? EUR? BTC? LTC? My money is on EUR. Why? Because it's relatively stable.
Now let's fast forward a bit and pretend that Cryptonia has adopted Litecoin as its official currency. Our largest trading partner is the US. How would transactions between merchants work in this scenario, taking into account the last few days. I'll use the following prices:
Let's run through a transaction:
1/16
1/17
1/18:
Conclusion:
This works both ways as far as you can do the math in USD vs. LTC to see how this screws over at least one party due to the wild price swings. Note: fiat currency does the same thing with one key difference explained later on.
Don't forget that this is all within 3 days. Now sure, obviously the last few days isn't something that happens every day ... but doesn't it? Look at the examples of EUR:USD. Any sharp spikes or drops have taken months to execute - enough time for relative prices to adjust. Look at cryptocurrency prices - the swings (from a percentage basis) are wild on a regular basis. In short, cryptocurrency isn't acting like currency. It's acting like an asset and not just an asset but a highly speculative one. The IRS is right to treat it like an asset because if it looks like an asset, and it acts like an asset, then it is an asset.
Where do I believe this should go? I believe cryptocurrency market needs to mature. I believe these drastic price swings need to stop. When will this happen? I believe it'll happen when the cryptocurrency market reaches a happy plateau where the market cap has reached a point where the buyers and sellers mostly eliminate one another and the relatively large price swings - from a percent point of view - are as boring as Mr. Stein. EUR vs. USD went up 0.03% today. 0.03%. In LTC-speek, that's going up $0.58 for the whole day. Oh and it was a wild ride too. Why it went all the way down to $1.21697 and all the way up to 1.22645. I know, I know - tie me down because I'm out of control.
Is this the only problem? No. Cryptocurrency has another problem and that's the sheer number of types of coins available. How many coins are available? 1,448. Nearly 1,500 coins all competing with each other for market share. We have Bitcoin at about $200b all the way to something like Digital Money Bits (DMB, an appropriate acronym). What is it? Who cares, it's worth $3,832. Not $3.832 billion or million but literally $3,832 with a volume of $35,509 today and hey, just this June, its market cap reached an all time high of $62,000! You missed the recent run-up though and boy did you miss it. On January 1st, its market cap was worth almost five hundred dollars! Yep, about two Litecoins! But look at it now - it went from $500 market cap to $3,832 in less than three weeks. Clearly this one is shooting to the moon.
This is a problem. Decentralization has an unfortunate side effect of - duh - nobody being in charge. There's no real clearance for these and some people with a little bit of money can literally copy and paste a whitepaper and have this chart and have a serious valuation of almost $17b from $140 million in literally 30 days. This doesn't act like a currency either. This is a problem.
Don't forget, this isn't like the dot-com era. We're not launching IPO's and .com companies that have different ideas. Amazon isn't like Ebay, or Google, or Yahoo, or Facebook or anything else. They all have different ideas for different segments of the population. We are in the cryptocurrency market. The world today has 180 fiat currencies. Cryptocurrency market is approaching 1,500. We need to trim the fat and the outright forgeries. Market cap isn't enough to weed them out. There needs to be something, a stabilizing force, that should act as a clearinghouse for launch of new cryptocurrencies. The market has failed to destroy shitcoins. Heck, it rewarded them based on lies, paid endorsements, FOMO, and FUD for other coins. This doesn't help the cryptocurrency market. It helps a few people get really wealthy really quickly and you are left holding the bag, so to speak. Should coins only be allowed to be introduced when its network reaches a certain hash rate? Isn't that the only objective point of value we have - number of mathematical calculations and power used in those calculations? You can't fake that.
What's another problem with cryptocurrency? It's what it represents. The governments don't see crypto as a positive force. After all, it directly competes with their own currencies. Can the governments shut this down? No - this is the Internet, after all. But they can kill it in other ways. I don't know how many people here remember but my first brush with Bitcoin was the ransomware viruses which wanted $300 in Bitcoin to unlock files. Bitcoin was seen as something tied to illegal activities. If governments - and let's say the US, South Korea, and China in particular - ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in particular then what they'll really do is make transactions illegal. What's the on-ramp and off-ramp to/from crypto? The banks which are already regulated. Now let's say you're in the US, your bank account is tied to your Coinbase account and you have some cryptocurrency. US issues a regulation which states that trading cryptocurrency is now illegal. It issues orders to all US banks to shut down related accounts. The following things will happen: cryptocurrency prices will tank and everyone is going to scramble taking money out which would likely overload the system, causing massive delays.
But let's say you're left holding your crypto and it's been a month. What can you do with it? Not much. Crypto isn't accepted in enough places yet. You can continue holding, hoping the price and ability to extract will come back one day. After all, you can't get your money back. Your bank closed your related account. You can open another one at any new bank but they'll either ban you from connecting your account to Coinbase or they'll confiscate any money coming from Coinbase and charge you with a crime. Now have the governments banned crypto? No - you can use and trade crypto all you want since it can't be traced. But have they effectively? Yes. Ironically, it's the banks that'll save us and I think that's why Ripple blew up. After all, if you have a cryptocurrency that sucks the bank's [censored] and plays along, you can get:
I think that's why something like Ripple blew up - because it doesn't care much about regular people, it wants to be the speedy highway for bank<->bank transfers.
What's a solution to this problem? More regulation and playing nice with the governments. Crypto isn't going mainstream if you shut out all governments. It needs to be connected. This means working with regulators to make sure that KYC laws are followed, that people report and pay money on any gains, and that - to a point - there's some supervision and tracing of transactions in a way that if you're robbed, you can get your money back. This will create a new job field, which - considering our current growth - will create a whole slew of high-paying white-collar jobs. Considering the high-level of transactions, banks would start this, followed by private companies, governments, and law-enforcement agencies. A good way to start this is what CBOE and CME have started to do - legitimize the currency. This is a foot in the door to the real holy grail: FOREX markets. When it's legitimized and not in serious competition with governments, it'll be embraced and its availability - along with instant transfers and low fees - will be widely supported by serious platforms.
Until these problems are fixed, the cryptocurrency market will remain what it is today: a speculative asset and not a currency. During the time it's taken me to write this post, Litecoin has gone up 2.6%. Euro remains at 0.03% gain.
Thanks for reading!
TL;DR
submitted by SsurebreC to LitecoinTraders [link] [comments]

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