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A silver Bitcoin encased in ice

Accountants help clients weather crypto winter


While the value of many cryptoassets has plunged over the past month, the tax and accounting issues haven’t gone away, leading to a subtle shift in the type of enquiry fielded by crypto accountants.

22nd Jun 2022
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Initially triggered by the collapse of the Terra stablecoin, a string of further crypto crises and wider macroeconomic factors have caused the price of many cryptocurrencies to plunge. Two of the most popular, Bitcoin and Ethereum, have halved in value since May and the entire crypto market fell below $1tn last week from a peak of $3tn in November 2021. 

But while crypto investors feel the pain, accountants in the crypto space have remained busy fielding questions from clients.

Speaking ahead of a webinar on how accountants can manage clients with crypto assets, Ben Lee, partner and head of blockchain and cryptocurrency at PKF Francis Clark, said his firm was still seeing a lot of activity. “Many clients are in the space for the meaning, not the money, but a lot are wary of the market,” he said. “People want to know what’s happening with the dip and it’s worth discussing with them from a liquidity and a tax point of view.”

Human response

Adrian Markey, a chartered accountant specialising in cryptoassets, told AccountingWEB he was seeing a human response from clients similar to those shown during previous stock market downturns.

“In terms of our dealing with clients, bear markets like this give us a rare opportunity to console investors by advising on things like loss harvesting (selling projects they are convinced are dead to use the loss),” said Markey.

“For more active investors – those that buy and sell daily – this can be a very dangerous time due to the way in which the HMRC rules work (same day and 30-day rules),” he continued. “It’s complicated but regular trading in a falling market can actually accelerate taxable gains. So we always flag this to clients. What’s that saying – never try to catch a falling knife?”

Tony Dhanjal, head of tax at crypto portfolio tracker and tax calculator tool Koinly, believes accountants can play a vital role in helping clients obtain information so they can find out their true position.

“There will be plenty of accountants out there asking: ‘How can we cushion the blow for clients?’ They may be sitting on a load of unrealised losses, or have to dispose of some coins after the dip,” said Dhanjal. “I think it’s really important clients get the right advice first before they act.”

Subtle shift

Chris Barnard, head of accounts and crypto lead at Accounts & Legal, reported seeing a subtle shift in the type of enquiries over the past few months. “Investor queries come and go,” he said, “but we’ve seen an increase in the number of enquiries about crypto projects, so it’s a different type of client.”

Markey has also seen a similar trend, albeit over a slightly longer period. “Over the last two years we’ve certainly seen more clients attracted to crypto by the DeFi [decentralized finance] market as well as NFTs [non-fungible tokens],” he said. “We’re also dealing with a few clients who are artists and turning to NFTs as a revenue stream.”

Join AccountingWEB technology editor Tom Herbert, Ben Lee, Tony Dhanjal and Chris Barnard for a live interactive webinar on How accountants can deal with clients with crypto assets at 11am on Thursday 23 June. Click the link to register and watch live or on-demand at your convenience.

Replies (14)

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By Justin Bryant
22nd Jun 2022 11:56

I'm sure there were just as many accountants and financial experts similarly advising tulip bulb investors back in the day.

As for this bit:

"“Many clients are in the space for the meaning, not the money,..."

That tells you everything you need to know.

Thanks (6)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
By JustAnotherUser
22nd Jun 2022 13:39

ah the old tulip analogy ...

Theres no denying Crypto in a bubble, just like housing and the traditional markets are in right now… most things with money have a cycle..
Bitcoin bubbled in 2018.. 2019… twice in 2021.

It good seeing such firms as Accounts & Legal taking the opportunity and seeing crypto as clients and opportunity and not just tulips.

The tulip didn’t die, and the global tulip market is c8 billion USD

Thanks (1)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
22nd Jun 2022 14:03

Interestingly, the Dutch tulip crash only involved about 350 wealthy merchants and had pretty much zero effect on the country's economy. It was a good story Mr Mackay told about it though!

I'd have gone with 1840s railway mania :-)

Thanks (1)
Replying to TomHerbert:
By Justin Bryant
22nd Jun 2022 14:22

Tulips are a much better analogy in this case, as like crypto (and unlike railways) they are fundamentally worthless. Just ask Bill Gates - who should know a thing or two about such things.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
By JustAnotherUser
22nd Jun 2022 14:56

Bill Gates 2004: "E-mail spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time."

He also said
" digital money is a good thing" and the gates Foundation is active in work around development of pro-poor, digital payment systems.

Lots of smart people have said wrong things and dumb people get things right at times.

Zuckerbeg supports web3
Musk supports web3
as does Mark Cuban, Kevin Oleary and many others in the mega rich successfull sphere...

To dismiss a trillion dollar industry as "fundamentally worthless" is sad to hear.

Its not just coins and ape pictures, its 300 million users globally, 10,000+ employees and growing for a wide range of use cases.

Our larger clients pay substantial bills to thier accountants for the advice and work they do, we have many clients who are employees who receive crypto just due to working in the industry and need an accountant to support them, the feedback we get the most is asking for reccomendations, and finding an accountant who understand these things.

I like articles like this one as they allow us to add accountants to the list of advisors we reccomend and were getting really good UK coverage this year for local support to our clients.

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Replying to JustAnotherUser:
By Justin Bryant
22nd Jun 2022 15:37

But that's not a great counter-argument is it (i.e. clever, knowledgeable people are sometimes wrong - no shi t), when there is a very good historical analogy to explain this crypto madness based on no fundamental value i.e. tulipmania.

At least one or two cryptos have gone to zero this year for the very reason their lack of fundamental value was exposed and that was no surprise to me or BG, but may be surprising to you.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
By JustAnotherUser
22nd Jun 2022 16:04

No argument here pal,

Im here to keep upto date on whats occuring in the accountants space with web 3 and crypto.

Theres bubbles everywhere, theres dodgy business everywhere , theres bad actors everywhere...
Because Evergrande is failing the entire property segment isnt tulipmania
Because Enron failed the energy industry isnt dodgy (debatable)
Because Carrillion failled construction isnt doomed
...etc etc

Web3 is here to stay and Is a great opportunity for accountants to expand, some will dismiss it as a fad and have zero interest.

It is young, it is a bubble, it does have up and down cycles, lots will go bust just like the dotcom bubble (also see the energy bubble, did you know 31 energy companies have gone bust in the UK since 2021?... this one gets a lot less press attention)

The number of potential clients interacting with web3 and crypto is rising, we just ask you accept it or ignore it , but not to dismiss it and call it a tulip.

Thanks (1)
Replying to JustAnotherUser:
By Justin Bryant
22nd Jun 2022 17:54

I believe it's right to call crypto out as tulipmania style scam when it so clearly is one. The other bubbles you mention are not at all comparable to tulipmania.

Thanks (2)
Donald MacKenzie
By Donald MacKenzie
23rd Jun 2022 10:21

The Cryptocurrency space is fundamentally a solution looking for a problem. There is nothing you can do with cryptocurrency that you cannot do with an actual currency (except hide ownership, but for what reason)? Unlike blockchain, which has huge advantages for securing data.

"“Many clients are in the space for the meaning, not the money" shows that it is a bit like "non-fungible tokens" for a piece of art - they have no intrinsic value.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Donald MacKenzie:
By JustAnotherUser
23rd Jun 2022 12:23

if it helps, very high level examples of just a couple of common use cases we see in our groups.... these are the ones you don’t see in headlines ....

"There is nothing you can do with cryptocurrency that you cannot do with an actual currency"

Remittance: Using a Money Transfer Operator (MTO) comes with high costs, we’ve seen massive shifts in the UK from members now using crypto to send money over seas to avoid huge costs these MTO apply (eg: western digital) . And it can all be done in a matter of seconds from your sofa... buy, move, sell.

Inflation: Foreign members and with family still in countries with hyper inflation (Venezuela 1198%, Argentina 51%, Turkey 36%....) large numbers now placing pay checks into crypto as by month end their pay checks value has declined 30%

3rd world: Every single project we have been involved in globally has a signifiacnt workforce with 3rd world country members who... have little to no access to banking infastructure.. high inflation, corruption. With just access to a computor they find work and pay on a massive scale in web3.

"non-fungible tokens" for a piece of art (yes very silly... but this is helping smart contracts get the development and innovation it needs)..... combine an NFT with your quote "blockchain, which has huge advantages for securing data"... you have the most secure way to prove ownership of data ever seen, and its all viewable and verifiable on the blockchain via a smart contract (or NFT)

"Except hide ownership"

All UK exchanges have KYC and report to HMRC, there is crypto designed around anonymity (Monero) but hiding ownership is not synonymous with an open , secure , readable block chain. There are better ways to hide money.

Thanks (1)
Replying to JustAnotherUser:
By Hugo Fair
23rd Jun 2022 13:44

All of your first 3 examples can be achieved without crypto ... just try Revolut (other cards are available) ... and without the danger of wholly unpredictable crypto fluctuation.

If I was one of those people in Turkey (or rather Türkiye) who purchased crypto earlier this year with my rapidly eroding TL ... then I'd be a tad upset to see the value reducing faster even than if I'd left in TL!

Thanks (1)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
By JustAnotherUser
23rd Jun 2022 14:18

Can be done without crypto... you can write that, but its wrong and millions disagree, were not talking about users spending thousands just to hold it and hope to get rich.

As per fluctuation, these international transfer are not being held for months. Money is moving in minutes and transferred to USD or other stable assets, quickly and with very low fees.

"We are currently only supporting legal residents of the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The EEA includes:" (they are making way in south America now)

Fluctuations are not impacting any of the above use cases.

Most objectors see crypto as expensive ape pictures and rich get quick rich schemes. These things grab headlines, 10% of the population of Nigeria are not buying Ape NFTs, but that doesn’t make a funny headline does it.

The only thing I can say is that I’ve been in the industry for a decade,
Either 300 million users are all being scammed and conned over the last 12 years or there’s something here, widen your horizon and you will find something.

Revisit this thread in 3 years I am confident as an accountant you will be providing crypto advice, working with it in people self assessment and good chance accepting a crypto currency for services.

Thanks (1)
Replying to JustAnotherUser:
By Hugo Fair
26th Jun 2022 18:25

Given that the full-blown experiment with Bitcoin as legal tender (in El Salvador) is rapidly failing ... as of 3 weeks ago "only 20 percent of firms in the country accept Bitcoin, and only 5 percent of sales take place in the cryptocurrency" ... I'm happy continuing to ignore the whole topic.

If you enjoy gambling then you may see the attraction, but I don't ... and can't!

Thanks (1)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
By JustAnotherUser
27th Jun 2022 08:35

.Yes, the authoritarian military dictatorship…
- rated 34th in global corruption
- which has 55% internet penetration
- 29% has a bank account
- 4% has a mobile money account
….adopts bitcoin and there are issues, surprised?
Possible real reasons this regime dived into bitcoin?
Remittance: which make up nearly a quarter (22%) of El Salvador’s GDP
Sanctions: Salvadoran banks need to be able to transact with American banks, which are subject to the US Treasury.
Not many people agree this was ever a good idea, IMO its just another avenue of corruption for Bukele, there would have been much better choices than BTC for this.
When the dust settles the rich will be richer in El Salvador, this was never about the average person on the street.
Crytpto isn’t ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’ thankfully.
“ I'm happy continuing to ignore the whole topic” , well here we are debating it with strangers on the internet.
A pleasure debating with you.

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