Bithumb exchange moves to court, seeking to nullify massive tax payment of over $69M

Quick Take

  • Crypto exchange Bithumb has filed a complaint against Korea’s National Tax Service with the Tax Tribunal
  • The exchange is seeking to nullify massive tax of over $69M it recently paid to the NTS
  • The Tax Tribunal has 90 days to determine whether to grant or dismiss Bithumb’s motion

South Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, which was recently hit with a hefty tax bill of around $69 million, has filed a court complaint.

The complaint has been filed against Korea’s National Tax Service (NTS) with the country’s Tax Tribunal, local news outlet The Korea Times reported Thursday. Bithumb considers the tax bill “groundless.”

"We paid the full amount and have since been preparing for arguments. We believe we will be given a chance to clarify our stance in court," an anonymous Bithumb official was quoted as saying in the report. 

Choi Hwoa-in, an adviser to Korea’s financial regulator, the Financial Supervisory Service, termed the Bithumb’s move as “calculated.” She said: "Bithumb filing a suit after paying the full amount in that sense is a calculated move expecting partial to full return of the amount paid.”

The NTS levied withholding tax of over $69 million on Bithumb’s foreign customers' income last November. It categorized the exchange's cryptocurrency trading of foreigners as miscellaneous income, recognizing capital gains as “assets.”

Choi argued that bitcoin (BTC) is not an asset under the country’s current laws, and therefore, the NTS cannot levy any kind of tax. "The Ministry of Economy and Finance already made that clear. The NTS pushing ahead with the tax imposition is baseless and groundless, especially since it is still awaiting the ministry opinion on the same matter it sought again.”

Last year as well, the NTS had hit Bithumb with a tax bill of around $28 million.

An anonymous NTS official told The Korea Times that as the matter is ongoing, they cannot comment. “We will await the judgment from the Tax Tribunal.”

The Tax Tribunal has 90 days to determine whether to grant or dismiss Bithumb's motion, per the report.

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