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To tax or not to tax? Japan debates how to handle bitcoin

TOKYO -- Calls are mounting in Japan to exempt bitcoins from consumption tax. Critics argue that taxing bitcoins hurts Japan's competitiveness. But financial regulators have gone only so far as to propose to give bitcoins pseudo-currency status, not tax-free status.

     "Can't you consider not imposing consumption tax on bitcoins in line with the international trend?" Tsukasa Akimoto, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, asked Finance Minister Taro Aso at a lower house budget committee meeting on Feb. 5. "Japan is not alone" in taxing bitcoins, Aso responded, citing Australia and other countries that tax virtual currencies.

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