16 Sep 2021 · 2 min read

Uruguay Regulator Suggests that Crypto-Real Estate ‘Exchanges’ Are Possible

Source: Adobe/Palacio SalvoSpectral-Design

A Uruguayan financial regulator has issued an ambivalent statement in answer to a question about how it views property sales for crypto – hinting that under the right circumstances, it could allow such moves to go ahead.

Per El Observador, the Montevideo-based notary Pérez del Castillo & Asociados approached the General Tax Directorate (known locally as the DGI), an agency that answers to the nation’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, for advice on the matter.    

The media outlet noted that a number of “specialized portals” that advertise real estate for sale in exchange for cryptoassets have appeared in the Latin American nation. It added that a growing number of property vendors were also stating that they would accept crypto payments.  

However, the notary’s request has uncovered something of a mixed response from the DGI on the matter. The agency stated that any such “sale” would not in fact be a traditional “real estate sale” at all. Instead, it would be classified as an “exchange of assets” – with “intangible assets” (crypto) being swapped for a tangible real estate “asset.” 

For a “sale” to take place, the DGI noted, money needs to change hands. And as the Uruguayan legal system does not recognize digital tokens as having monetary value, crypto cannot be used in legal “sales.” 

However, the DGI’s response hinted that crypto could indeed have some form of legal status, albeit that of an “intangible personal property.” This would allow it to be used as a means of exchange, a fact that, according to mainstream economic theory, means it fulfills at least one of the characteristics of money.

At no point did it overly state that real estate-crypto “exchanges” should be discouraged.

Regardless, the agency added, an exchange is still a taxable event – and even crypto-powered property “exchanges” must be registered with the Land Registry Office and taxed accordingly, presumably in line with the cryptoasset’s fiat peso worth at the time of sale.

The nation’s central bank has recently stated that it is preparing to make a statement about crypto, where it is expected to outline its policy on tokens and how they should be regulated. The statement should be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.  

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