El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele (Source: The Daily Beast / Twitter)
On Tuesday, El Salvador became the world’s first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender.
Per CNBC, this change means that “prices can now be shown in bitcoin, tax contributions can be paid with the digital currency, and exchanges in bitcoin will not be subject to capital gains tax.”
The country’s president, Nayib Bukele, marked the occasion by putting “laser eyes” — a popular way to show support for Bitcoin — on his Twitter profile. Why not!?
It’s not just profile pictures that are changing
There could be huge implications for the US, as explained by Forbes’ Avik Roy:
- Taxation: Today, the IRS classifies bitcoin as property. If you use it to transact — like buy a Starbucks coffee — and the price of bitcoin has changed since you first acquired it, that’s a taxable event. But as legal tender, bitcoin can be used in commerce without being taxed (AKA much less friction).
- Corporate balance sheets: Current accounting rules are unfavorable to crypto assets. If the price rises, you are unable to mark it up as an unrealized gain. If the price falls, though, you have to write it down. From a corporate accounting perspective, that’s all downside.
However, if bitcoin is considered a foreign currency — because it’s legal tender in El Salvador — corporations can hold it on the balance sheet under more favorable accounting guidelines.
- Bitcoin’s future: With the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, it ideally transacts with all of the currencies of foreign nations. As an official currency for El Salvador, it may become harder for the US to ban bitcoin.