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I. Introduction

Under Decree 3196 of December 8, 2017,[1] the government of Venezuela was authorized to create its own cryptocurrency, the petro, which would be physically backed by Venezuelan barrels of oil.[2] One petro would be backed by a purchase-sale contract for one barrel of Venezuelan oil as quoted in the OPEC Reference Basket, as well as other commodities, including gold, diamonds, gas, and the mineral coltan.[3]

All cryptocurrencies are considered to be a financial asset subject to the rules applicable to such assets under Decree 3196; none of its provisions declare cryptocurrencies other than the petro to be illegal.[4]

In 2019, the Constitutional Decree on Cryptoassets (CDCA) was enacted to provide a legal framework on the creation, circulation, use, and exchange of all cryptoassets by natural and legal persons in both the public or private sector.[5] It assigns the National Superintendency of Cryptocurrencies (Sunacrip) as the body that regulates crypto activity, with the following powers:

  • regulate the constitution, issuance, organization, operation, and use of cryptoassets,
  • create and issue cryptoassets,
  • allow the operation of virtual exchange houses in Venezuela that operate with cryptoassets created by the National Executive,
  • regulate the cryptoassets market in Venezuela, the use and creation of virtual wallets, entities dedicated to savings and virtual brokerage of cryptoassets, and virtual mining activities.[6]

The CDCA provides that the Venezuelan State will promote, protect and guarantee the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment in public institutions and in private, mixed or joint companies, either in or outside Venezuela.[7] It also creates the registration system for virtual miners, virtual exchange houses, and other entities dedicated to saving and virtual intermediation of cryptoassets.[8] Cryptocurrency miners are also required to obtain a license to operate.[9]

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II. Tax Treatment of Cryptocurrency Mining

Venezuelan regulations have not established a clear position on the way in which cryptoassets will be taxed.[10]

However, tax experts consider that, under the income tax law[11] and its regulations, operations and transactions involving cryptocurrency would be taxed as capital gains, with respect to any cryptoassets, including the petro.[12]

According to tax experts, the activity of miners and virtual exchange houses are subject to income tax for their business activity. The assets used by miners to generate the digital assets, such as the technology equipment used, is subject to depreciation or revaluation for income tax computation purposes.[13]

Regarding the Value Added Tax (VAT), the transfer of cryptocurrencies between users should not be subject to this tax, since the transfer of intangibles are not considered sales operations.[14] However, the acquisition of input goods or services used in mining is subject to VAT.[15]

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Prepared by Graciela Ferrand-Rodriguez
Senior Foreign Legal Specialist
January 2021


[1] Decreto 3196 Mediante el cual se Autoriza la Creación de la Superintendencia de los Criptoactivos y Actividades Conexas Venezolana, Gaceta Oficial [G.O.], Dec. 8, 2017, https://perma.cc/CSC3-BKBV.

[2] Id. art. 4.

[3] Id.

[4] Raymond Orta, Efectos sobre el Bitcoin y otras Criptomonedas del Decreto sobre Creación del PETRO y la Superintendencia de los Criptoactivos, Tu Abogado.com (Dec. 28, 2017), https://perma.cc/3RU6-ANVU.

[5] Decreto Constituyente sobre el Sistema Integral de Criptoactivos, art. 3, G.O. Jan. 31, 2019, https://perma.cc/VL9M-7F46.

[6] Id. arts. 7-8.

[7] Id. art. 1.

[8] Id. art. 20.

[9] Id. art. 12.

[10] Gabriel Alejandro Chirinos, Regulación y Tributación en el Mercado de Criptoactivos, una Perspectiva de Derecho Comparado 29 (Revista de la Facultado de Derecho Montevideo No. 48, June 2020), https://perma.cc/3TNK-8ZEZ.

[11] Ley del Impuesto a la Renta (LIR), as amended by Decreto 1435 of Nov. 17, 2017, arts. 14 and 74, https://perma.cc/GV8W-2CGY.

[12] Chirinos, supra note 10, at 29.

[13] Id. at 30.

[14] Decree Law on Value Added Tax, arts. 1 and 4.

[15] Chirinos, supra note 10, at 30.

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Last Updated: 02/05/2021