According to a report by Reuters, the Indian Income Tax Department gathered data from nine national exchanges in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune.
The investigation revealed that $3.5bn worth of virtual currency had been traded in just 17 months, but few investors had included any of this information in their tax returns.
Tax notice surprise
In response to the survey, the department sent tax notices to people dealing in Bitcoin and other major virtual currencies demanding they pay tax on capital gains.
They also asked for details of investors’ total cryptocurrency holdings and the source of their funds.
Reuters reports the news has come as a shock to many investors as there is no formal tax policy in India that covers blockchain assets.
The Indian Government has issued several warnings against investing in cryptocurrencies over recent months, saying they are similar to Ponzi schemes.
B.R. Balakrishnan, a director general of investment at the tax department, said the notices had been sent following the survey to assess the penetration and patterns of cryptocurrency trading.
“We cannot turn a blind eye. It would have been disastrous to wait until the final verdict was out on its legality,” Balakrishnan said to Reuters.
The volatility of Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies has seen governments around the world trying to grapple with how to regulate the trading of the alternative asset.
Earlier this month, the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) launched the world’s first regulatory framework for blockchain technology.
It means any Gibraltar firms that use blockchain to store or transmit anything of value belonging to others now must apply for a licence from the commission.