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How-to & FAQ for holding Bitcoin and Ethereum in an RRSP/TFSA
A few months ago I came across a way to hold crypto in my RRSP/TFSA and have been answering questions about how to do that in comments, DM's, and Skype consults. I figured it would be helpful to put together one big comprehensive FAQ. Cryptocurrency is treated as a commodity by the CRA and you must pay capital gains taxes on any profits if held outside a TFSA. If bitcoin goes to $1m as some are predicting, the Canadian government is going to be taxing a huge windfall in capital gains taxes. BACKGROUND Bitcoin & other crypto cannot be held directly in a RRSP/TFSA, and there are no eligible ETF's in North America yet. However, the ETN COINXBT which trades on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in Sweden (Nasdaq Stockholm) is eligible. ABOUT COINXBT COINXBT holds bitcoin directly and its price per share is based on a 0.005 multiple of the current bitcoin price. For example, if the current price of bitcoin is $10000USD, a share of COINXBT will be worth $50USD (ie: $493 Swedish Kroner) Company's website and full prospectus at: https://xbtprovider.com/ Price quote / chart: https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/COINXBT:SS HOW-TO TRADE Only some Canadian brokerages allow you to trade on eligible international exchanges in your TFSA. Some do not. Typically placing trades on international exchanges online is not an option and must be made over the phone broker-assisted at a much higher cost than typical North American securities. CANADIAN BROKERS I've called pretty much every brokerage to inquire if international securities can be held in a TFSA and what the fee is to transact. You may want to call yourself to see if policies have changed, but here's a summary:
National Bank: $75 per trade + $0.06 per share (confirmed works)
TD: Fee dependent on amount traded. Up to $5K is $187, $80K would be $520 per trade (confirmed works)
CIBC: $250 minimum, based on trade amount. $50K would be about $350 to buy and $350 to sell (confirmed works)
Scotia iTrade: $250 CAD per trade CAD, unlimited shares & order size (should work)
BMO Investorline: Fee-based on total trade amount. $50K would be $325 to buy $225 to sell, $50-$60K would be $350 to buy $240 to sell (should work)
Not available, or not available in RRSP/TFSA:
Interactive Brokers, can trade it, but not in RRSP/TFSA
HSBC (has access to almost every exchange other than Stockholm)
FAQ's Are you sure it's legal? I'm quite sure it's illegal.
I used National Bank Direct Brokerage. The fee's came out to $75 per trade + $0.06 per share. For example, the commission for a trade I did for 885 shares of COINXBT was $75 + $53.10 for a total of $128.10. Canadian funds were used to make the purchase and there were no forex fees for converting to Swedish Kroner (SEK)
How do I make a trade once I'm ready?
Call your brokerage and say you want to place a trade on the Stockholm stock exchange. You may be forwarded to a person that specializes in that, and eventually to a broker that deals with placing order on international exchanges. Tell them the symbol to trade is COINXBT and the name of the ETN is "Bitcoin Tracker One".
How do I calculate the number of shares to trade to max out my TFSA?
The price of COINXBT is in SEK. In my case using NB I took my balance minus anticipated fees divided by the current price to see how many shares I could buy. For example: For a $10,000 TFSA, current COINXBT price = $554.77SEK (84.27CAD), would be 117 shares at a cost of $9859.59 + $82.02 commission for a total of $9941.61CAD
Market or Limit order?
The first time I placed an order for COINXBT I tried to place a limit order a little below the market price. Over the next week the price of bitcoin ran up a lot and didn't come down. I ended up buying a lot higher. Since then I've been placing limit orders slightly above the current price or just market orders so that they go through right away. I've had no issues doing it either way.
When can I trade? Is it only possible to make the trade while the Swedish market is open and the TSX are open at the same time? Or can you place the order at any time of day?
XBT Provider has said they will monitor forks for 3-months and then decide what action to take. In the case of Bitcoin Cash, they sold the forked coins and distributed it as a dividend to anyone that held ETN shares on the fork date.
What about other cryptocurrencies?
An ethereum ETN was recently launched: COINETH that also trades on the Stockholm exchange. https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/COINETH:SS Other than that, I am not aware of any other eligible crypto securities that can be held in a RRSP/TFSA
How is the price of COINXBT determined?
It's based on the average price of the top 3 exchanges
Why not just buy GBTC?
GBTC is traded on the OTC exchange in the US and is not RRSP/TFSA eligible
Why can't I place a trade online myself?
For now, there are no crypto ETF's on North American exchanges. They have been in the works for years in the US, but no approvals yet. Evolve funds recently said they plan to launch a Canadian Bitcoin ETF. Trading COINXBT is a bit of a hassle, but you're getting in ahead of everyone else that are not willing to put in the time/effort. Once the Canadian/US ETF launches, it will probably be worth it to sell COINXBT and switch to the North American one which should be easy to trade online just like other ETF's.
Feedback If you've managed to get crypto into your RRSP/TFSA in any other ways than listed above please do leave a comment and I'll update the post. Thanks!
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