It’s not often that both academics and students are learning a new suite of information simultaneously. The conditions need to be just right, where a new technology is uncharted, and has immediate and significant implications to a profession being taught at university.

Take cryptocurrency and taxation. Within the period of a standard degree, an entire frontier of information, and interpretation of legislation, needs to be digested and then taught by lecturers. This is real-time learning and teaching at its finest.

Our graduates need to be able to understand tax implications that cryptocurrency investors and blockchain users don’t even realise exist. How can lecturers approach cryptocurrency in their subjects when it evolves at such a rapid pace?

Students need current and relevant material

Dr Elizabeth Morton, Lecturer of Taxation at RMIT University’s School of Accounting, Information Systems and Supply Chain, explains how cryptocurrency has become a critical competency. Dr Morton says, “It is so important now that tax practitioners understand crypto and blockchain technologies because their clients are increasingly engaging in activities in this space.”

Likening it to a can of worms, Dr Morton describes just some of the nuances: “Crypto assets are not cash. They are not money, but they act like it. So taxpayers are not only buying cryptocurrencies as investments, but they can use them to purchase other crypto assets. From a Capital Gains Tax point of view, it essentially doubles the complexity. Not only do you have an acquisition and disposal, but also each time a client transacts with crypto – buying crypto through another crypto – that’s another acquisition as well as a disposal of that original asset.”

Elizabeth Morton

Dr Elizabeth Morton
Lecturer of Taxation at RMIT

However, Dr Morton contends this is an exciting time. It is an opportunity to embed forward-thinking learning, bringing this traditional discipline into a new era. Dr Morton is a member of the author team for Australian Taxation, 2nd Edition. She has been developing Technology Boxes throughout the upcoming edition of the textbook about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. This gives students and teachers the opportunity to link the syllabus with this complex topic and consider the implications during each chapter.