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Thailand set to tax stock trading, digital assets

digital assets

Thailand is seeking new sources of revenue to finance Covid stimulus measures and cut reliance on borrowing as it continues to reel from the pandemic

Thailand is considering taxing stock trading for the first time in more than three decades, and making crypto traders part with a share of their profits, as the government hunts for revenue to fund billions of dollars in pandemic relief.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s government is expected to decide by end-January on the method and rate of taxing stock trading, as well as details on how to tax gains from trading digital assets including cryptocurrencies, according to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

Thailand is seeking new sources of revenue to finance Covid stimulus measures and cut reliance on borrowing as Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy continues to reel from the pandemic.

Trading of stocks and digital assets has surged during the pandemic as investors chase higher returns amid record-low interest rates, opening up new tax avenues for the government.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, general government revenue has been diverging from spending since 2020, and the impact appears to be permanent, said Charnon Boonnuch, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc in Singapore.

This suggests that the government will likely look to expand its revenue sources further and beyond the proposed tax on digital assets and the recent e-commerce tax, to accommodate an upward shift in spending and provide a scope for more fiscal support to the still-weak economic outlook if needed, Boonnuch said.

Thailand’s tax revenue is lower than most other developing economies, limiting the government’s ability to boost spending to counter the economic slowdown. The country’s tax-to-GDP ratio was at 16.1% in 2019, compared to 18.4% for upper-middle income nations and 24.2% for high-income nations, said Athiphat Muthitacharoen, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University and the author of “Strengthening Thailand’s Tax System”.

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