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These and other questions are of concern to novice and experienced traders alike — and we want to help you answer them. Links to relevant official guidelines are also included. This change is significant, as it may indicate a move from viewing binaries as gambling, into more mainstream financial income.
For the current tax year, the advice below remains accurate. HMRC looks at all relevant circumstances to make decisions on tax liability. However, it is important to note that the correct treatment of any financial transaction or investment comes down to a question of fact:.
A transaction with a spread betting firm is a good example of this contextual approach; i. For most individuals, HMRC is likely to consider this activity as betting, which means any profits made from it will be outside the scope of both Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. However, if that same transaction is carried out for commercial purposes; for instance, if it is made strategically as a hedge to offset the risks attached to direct investment in a security , any profits that arises from it might be regarded as part of a wider pattern of activity attracting tax liability.
For more information on this, see guidance note BIM The consequence of purely speculative, gambling or betting activity is that profitable transactions from it do not generally attract a tax charge. However, the potential downside of this from your point of view is that you cannot claim tax relief on losses from this type of activity.
An option, in the eyes of HMRC, is an agreed right to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price within a specified timeframe. It tends to have an inherent value in itself which carries CGT implications. See CG for the formal definition. Binary options present individuals with the opportunity to benefit from fluctuations up or down in, for instance, the price of individual shares or the performance of indices such as stock markets or currency markets. These are derivative products; which means you do not have any ownership in the underlying asset at no point do you own the share in question, for instance.
In fact, there are only two possible outcomes once the option expires: HMRC will almost always regard this as a form of gambling: Cases that have gone before the courts help to shed light on this. A more recent case Hakki v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA Civ concerned a professional poker player who made a living through his winnings and who was facing a child maintenance payment order from the Child Support Agency.
The Court of Appeal once again confirmed the general principle that gambling is not a trade. So even if your only source of income is from binary options profits, it seems unlikely at present that profits would be deemed liable for tax.
But do not rule it out completely. The answer, in the majority of cases, is likely to be no as it is not classed as income for tax purposes. But as ever with tax, it all depends on the context. Use this general guidance and consider your position carefully. An accountant with specific expertise in gambling and financial trading activities should be able to assess your particular circumstances and provide an opinion on potential liabilities.
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