CFD taxes are often overlooked, especially by newcomers to the industry, but it is an important aspect of trading, especially given the ever-increasing popularity of CFDs as an instrument. Taxation policies vary across the world, with some jurisdictions providing tax exemptions, while some class it as fully taxable income and others have banned their trade altogether. This article will review the basics of CFDs before discussing how they are taxed in some of the major financial jurisdictions.
Note, this article should not be construed as professional tax advice. Consult a local tax advisor for guidance in your jurisdiction.
CFD Trading Brokers
- Interactive Brokers - Over 8,000 CFDs are offered on a vast array of instruments, encompassing stocks, indices, forex, and commodities. Moreover, the TWS platform lends itself to seasoned day traders, offering a comprehensive selection of over 100 order types and algorithms, alongside premium market data sourced from reputable sources such as Reuters and Dow Jones.
- DNA Markets - DNA Markets offers a small suite of 250 CFDs covering stocks, indices, forex, commodities and cryptos, providing opportunities to speculate on rising and falling prices. There are no restrictions on strategies with leverage up to 1:30 (Australia) or 1:500 (rest of world).
- IG - IG offers a huge selection of 17,000+ CFDs, providing more trading opportunities than most CFD brokers. Traders can go long or short on popular markets like stocks, currencies, commodities and cryptos, while custom price alerts and the IG Academy continue to enhance the trading experience.
- IQCent - CFDs are available on forex, indices, commodities and cryptos, although the range of 100+ instruments is limited compared to alternatives such as Quotex with 400+. Leverage is available up to 1:500 but the $250 minimum deposit is noticeably higher than competitors.
- Videforex - Videforex CFDs are available on forex, indices, cryptocurrencies and commodities with up to 1:500 leverage and tight spreads from near zero. CFDs incur a commission fee of 1%–2.5% and up to 5% for leveraged trades.
CFD Taxes Comparison
|FCA, SEC, FINRA, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB
|1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro)
|FCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA
|CMA, FSC, FSCA
#1 - Interactive Brokers
Why We Chose Interactive Brokers
Over 8,000 CFDs are offered on a vast array of instruments, encompassing stocks, indices, forex, and commodities. Moreover, the TWS platform lends itself to seasoned day traders, offering a comprehensive selection of over 100 order types and algorithms, alongside premium market data sourced from reputable sources such as Reuters and Dow Jones.
"Interactive Brokers is one of the best brokers for advanced day traders, providing powerful charting platforms, real-time data, and customizable layouts. Its superb pricing and advanced order options also make it highly attractive for day traders, while its diverse range of equities is still among the best in the industry."- DayTrading Review Team
- FTSE Spread: 0.005% (£1 Min)
- GBPUSD Spread: 0.08-0.20 bps x trade value
- Stocks Spread: 0.003
- Leverage: 1:50
- Regulator: FCA, SEC, FINRA, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB
- Platforms: Trader Workstation (TWS), Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral
About Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage for experienced traders, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.
- While primarily geared towards experienced traders, IBKR has made moves to broaden its appeal in recent years, reducing its minimum deposit from $10,000 to $0.
- IBKR is one of the most respected and trusted brokerages and is regulated by top-tier authorities, so you can have confidence in the integrity and security of your trading account.
- There's a vast library of free or paid third-party research subscriptions catering to all types of traders.; plus, you can enjoy commission reimbursements from IBKR if you subscribe to Toggle AI.
- Support can be slow and frustrating based on tests, so you might find it challenging to reach customer service representatives promptly or encounter delays in resolving issues.
- TWS’s learning curve is steep, and beginners may find it challenging to navigate the platform and understand all the features. Plus500's web platform is much better suited to new traders.
- You can only have one active session per account, so you can’t have your desktop program and mobile app running simultaneously, making for a sometimes frustrating trading experience.
#2 - DNA Markets
Why We Chose DNA Markets
DNA Markets offers a small suite of 250 CFDs covering stocks, indices, forex, commodities and cryptos, providing opportunities to speculate on rising and falling prices. There are no restrictions on strategies with leverage up to 1:30 (Australia) or 1:500 (rest of world).
"DNA Markets is an excellent choice for short-term traders familiar with the MetaTrader platforms. The smooth sign-up process also makes it easy to get started while the $100 minimum deposit is accessible. That said, DNA Markets trails the top brokers in education, research and mobile trading. "- DayTrading Review Team
- FTSE Spread: 1.7
- GBPUSD Spread: 1.0
- Stocks Spread: 1.0 cent + $0.02 per share, per side (Apple)
- Leverage: 1:500
- Regulator: ASIC
- Platforms: MT4, MT5
About DNA Markets
DNA Markets is a forex and CFD broker established in 2020. The broker operates two entities in Australia and the offshore jurisdiction, St Vincent and the Grenadines. Traders can access 250+ markets, with a Standard account for beginners and a Raw account for experienced traders. The reliable MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms are available, alongside Signal Start.
- Top-rate platforms and charting tools for day traders with access to MT4 and MT5
- Convenient account funding with 7 base currencies, a $100 deposit and a wide range of payment methods
- 24/5 customer support with response times of <2 minutes during testing
- There are limited educational and research tools, reducing its appeal to beginners
- Although it continues to strengthen its client base and reputation DNA Markets lacks the track record of top brokers like Vantage
- Despite access to MT4 and MT5, there is no proprietary trading app
#3 - IG
Why We Chose IG
IG offers a huge selection of 17,000+ CFDs, providing more trading opportunities than most CFD brokers. Traders can go long or short on popular markets like stocks, currencies, commodities and cryptos, while custom price alerts and the IG Academy continue to enhance the trading experience.
"IG continues to provide a comprehensive package with an intuitive web platform and best-in-class education for beginners, plus advanced charting tools, real-time data, and fast execution speeds for experienced day traders."- DayTrading Review Team
- FTSE Spread: 1.0
- GBPUSD Spread: 0.9
- Stocks Spread: 0.02
- Leverage: 1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro)
- Regulator: FCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA
- Platforms: Web, ProRealTime, L2 Dealer, MT4, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
Founded in 1974, IG is part of IG Group Holdings Plc, a publicly traded (LSE: IGG) brokerage. The brand-US offers spread betting, CFD and forex trading across an almost unrivalled selection of 17,000+ markets, with a range of user-friendly platforms and investing apps. For 50 years, IG has maintained its position as an industry leader, excelling in all key areas for traders.
- The IG app offers a superb mobile trading experience with a clean design that helped it secure Runner Up at our Best Trading App award
- As a well-established broker, IG operates under strict regulatory guidelines in multiple jurisdictions, maintaining a high level of trust
- IG is amongst the best in terms of its range of instruments, which includes stocks, forex, indices, commodities, and cryptocurrencies, providing ample diversification opportunities
- Beginners might find IG’s fee structure complex, with various fees for different types of trades or services, potentially leading to confusion or unexpected charges
- IG has discontinued its swap-free account, reducing its appeal to Islamic traders
- While there is negative balance protection in the UK and EU, there is no account protection or guaranteed stop losses for US clients
#4 - IQCent
Why We Chose IQCent
CFDs are available on forex, indices, commodities and cryptos, although the range of 100+ instruments is limited compared to alternatives such as Quotex with 400+. Leverage is available up to 1:500 but the $250 minimum deposit is noticeably higher than competitors.
"IQCent will appeal to day traders looking for a straightforward binary options and CFD trading platform with low fees, a range of accounts, and copy trading. Getting started takes less than 1 minute and a $250 deposit. "- DayTrading Review Team
- FTSE Spread: 1.4
- GBPUSD Spread: 0.8
- Stocks Spread: N/A
- Leverage: 1:500
- Regulator: IFMRRC
- Platforms: Online Platform, TradingView
IQCent is an offshore binary options and CFD broker based in the Marshall Islands. The brand continues to offer a range of unique account types with bonuses and perks, including payout boosts, TradeBacks and free rollovers. With 100+ assets, around-the-clock trading and 98% payouts, the firm is popular with aspiring short-term traders.
- The proprietary terminal offers TradingView-powered charts which deliver dozens of technical indicators and studies
- Keen traders can take part in trading contests with cash prizes
- IQCent is one of the few binary options brokers that also offers a copy trading service for hands-off traders
- The market analysis is very basic with limited technical summaries and insights from analysts
- There's no automated trading support for algo traders
- IQCent charges a punitive $10 monthly inactivity fee if you fail to place at least 1 trade per month
#5 - Videforex
Why We Chose Videforex
Videforex CFDs are available on forex, indices, cryptocurrencies and commodities with up to 1:500 leverage and tight spreads from near zero. CFDs incur a commission fee of 1%–2.5% and up to 5% for leveraged trades.
"Newer traders will find a lot to enjoy about trading binary options on Videforex's easy-to-use proprietary platform, as well as the broker's copy trading solution. Payouts also remain higher than most alternatives climbing to 98%."- DayTrading Review Team
- FTSE Spread: Floating from 0.2
- GBPUSD Spread: Floating from 0.1
- Stocks Spread: NA
- Leverage: 1:500
- Platforms: TradingView
Launched in 2017, Videforex offers access to stock, index, crypto, forex and commodities markets via binary options and CFDs. The proprietary platform, mobile app and integrated copy trading are user-friendly and will suit new and casual traders, and the market analysis tools and trading contests provide good ways to improve your trading skills.
- The firm facilitates both day trading and binary options which is great for those looking to diversify their portfolios
- Global clients can make free and fast transfers via a wide range of payment types, from credit cards to cryptocurrencies
- You can easily mirror the trades of experienced investors with low fees
- No MetaTrader 4 integration
- The broker isn’t overseen by a trusted regulatory agency
- US clients aren’t accepted due to legal restrictions
What are CFDs?
Before you can learn about CFD taxes, it is important to understand CFDs themselves. A CFD, or contract for difference, is a financial instrument that allows traders to speculate on the price movement of an underlying asset over a length of time. CFDs can be taken out on a huge range of financial markets and assets, with profits and losses reflecting the price movements of their underlying assets.
CFDs are derivative assets, which means that traders are not purchasing the underlying asset, they are simply speculating on the direction of its price movement.
Essentially a contract between an investor and broker for one party to pay or receive the difference in the price of an asset between the time of entrance and exit of the position, CFDs can be used to trade on both increasing and decreasing asset values by way of going ‘long’ or going ‘short’.
The derivative nature of CFDs removes many of the barriers present with spot trading.
For example, you do not have to physically take ownership of the asset you are trading, such as a few hundred barrels of oil.
Moreover, you can use CFDs with leverage, which lets you borrow some of a trade’s stake from the broker to open a position larger than you normally would (note this increases both potential profit and loss).
This can provide exposure to expensive assets you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, as well as facilitating magnified trade size. However, the risk of loss is also amplified and margin trading can result in the loss of more capital than was initially staked, or even present in your trading account.
While CFD trading shares many of the same characteristics as spot trading, the ability to trade on margin and their speculative nature has implications on CFD taxes that require a closer look.
CFD Taxes In The UK
In the UK, CFD trading taxes are collected by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). When considering UK trading taxes, there are two main types to be aware of – stamp duty reserve tax (SDRT) and capital gains tax (CGT). Stamp duty is applied to the purchase of share assets, usually at 0.5%. Capital Gains Tax relates to any profits from the disposal of shares or other financial instruments.
CFD taxes do not include stamp duty reserve tax because the contracts are derivatives, rather than securities. This means that the investor does not physically purchase and take ownership of company shares, they simple speculate upon its price movements. This can make CFD trading quite attractive over spot stocks thanks to their tax freedoms.
Sadly, this does not mean CFD trading is tax-free – capital gains tax is still applied to any gains made from CFD trading. For the 2020/21 tax year, HMRC has established a Capital Gains tax-free allowance of £12,300 (£6,150 for trusts), so investors will only be taxed on their overall gains above the allowance amount. CFD trading losses can also be carried over into subsequent tax years, allowing you to offset against future profits and potentially reducing your Capital Gains Tax bill.
CFD Taxes In Australia
CFD taxes in Australia fall under the jurisdiction of the ATO, the Australian Taxation Office. Unlike the UK, for instance, where the taxation of CFDs is well-established and clear cut, ATO rules are a little more open to interpretation. The ATO’s TR 2005/15 ruling forms the basis for the tax treatment of CFDs in Australia. Although a complex ruling, tax treatment depends on whether your trading of CFDs is of the following nature:
- Trading as an individual investor
- Trading as a business
Individual investors who trade CFDs intending to make a profit fall within income tax regulations, with gains viewed as assessable income and losses as an allowable deduction. However, in some rare cases, CFDs can be viewed by the ATO as having a ‘non-profit-making purpose’. In this case, CFD taxes are considered liable for capital gains tax.
Trading As A Business
Where CFDs are traded as part of commercial or business transactions, they fall under income tax, with any gains considered as assessable income and any losses as an allowable deduction.
When deciding whether CFD taxes should be for trading ‘as a business’, the ATO will assess your approach against the following criteria:
- Organisation: Are you a registered business? Do you keep rigorous and up-to-date records of trading activities?
- Motivation: Are you trading with the express purpose of making a profit, rather than merely speculating on the markets?
- Behaviour: How frequently do you carry out trades, in what volume and of what size? How does this compare to other commercial CFD traders?
- Capital: How much capital is invested in your CFD trading activities? Is any capital set aside for other purposes?
- Skill: Can you demonstrate skill and discretion is being used in trades, rather than simply gambling on asset price movements?
If your trading falls into this category, it allows you to deduct any costs and expenses during the tax year against profits, as well as deducting CFD trading losses against other assessable income.
CFD Trading In Canada
CFD taxes in Canada sit within the remit of the CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency. Although CFD-specific tax guidance can be difficult to source in Canada given that instrument-specific rules are not provided by the CRA, trading tax regulations differ for investors and regular business traders.
Business or day traders – those who trade with high frequency, in high volume, on speculative positions and typically close positions on the same day or in short timeframes – have their profits taxed as business income at their marginal rate. Despite being 100% taxable, this has the benefit of offsetting trading losses against other sources of income, as well as being able to claim expenses against income.
However, infrequent or longer-term trading activity will likely mean your investment profits – if there are any – are viewed as capital gains. In Canada, capital gains are taxed at a clearly advantageous 50% of your marginal tax rate, with capital losses able to be offset against any other gains.
Each individual’s approach to CFD trading will help determine whether profits or losses are taxable under assessable income or capital gains. How you include CFD trading gains or losses in your tax return can be open to interpretation, so contact the CRA or seek professional tax advice from an accountant ahead of making decisions on CFD taxes.
For further clarification on trading taxes in Canada, please see our Canada taxes page.
CFD Trading In The USA
CFD trading is currently illegal in the US, as per restrictions introduced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The ruling applies to both US citizens and residents and is enforceable with both domestic and overseas brokerages.
However, whilst US citizens and residents are barred from trading CFDs, US-based brokers are free to offer CFDs to residents and citizens of other countries where CFD trading is perfectly legal – for example the UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore.
Final Word On CFD Taxes
CFDs and taxes can often be murky waters to navigate through, both as a casual investor and a professional trader. Taxes on CFD trading differ by jurisdiction, with some countries like the UK classifying any potential CFD trading profits as capital gains, whereas others such as Australia largely viewing any CFD profits as assessable income.
It is important to stress that failing to meet tax obligations can have serious consequences with financial and criminal penalties often attached. So, whilst CFD taxes may not be the most thrilling topic, they must be well understood and considered.
This page is not trying to offer tax advice, it merely aims to decipher the multitude of regional regulations and approaches to CFD taxes that currently exist. Before you file any tax returns – CFD or otherwise – please obtain professional guidance from an accountant or advisor.
Is CFD Trading Tax-Free?
CFD trading is generally not tax-free, though there are some jurisdictions with tax exemptions – in the UK, for instance, CFDs do not pay stamp duty. However, in most territories, CFDs are liable for either capital gains tax (CGT) or income tax. On rare occasions, CFD taxes can be zero as the trading can be considered a form of gambling and therefore free from taxation, but this is unlikely to be the case for almost all traders. Regulations will vary by jurisdiction.
Is CFD Trading Legal?
CFD trading is illegal in a small number of countries, such as the US, Belgium and Hong Kong. However, in many other countries, like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore, CFD trading is a perfectly legal and attractive instrument for many traders. Always aim to use a popular, regulated, and trusted broker when trading CFDs.
In The UK, Are CFDs Taxed In The Same Way As Stocks And Shares?
CFDs are derivative assets, which means traders do not take ownership of the underlying asset, unlike with spot stocks and other securities. Therefore, CFD taxes do not include the stamp duty present for spots, though capital gains tax is still charged at the same rate.
Where Can I Learn More About CFD Trading?
CFDs are popular instruments for many retail day traders, though the opportunity for leverage makes CFD trading a risky endeavour. It is recommended to take some time to inform yourself of the markets, assets and associated risks, as well as carefully considering a strategy, before embarking on your journey. Check out our CFD trading guide before getting started.
Which Assets Can I Trade As CFDs?
CFDs can cover thousands of underlying assets and markets, such as stocks and shares, ETFs, bonds, forex, indices, cryptocurrencies and commodities. In fact, the choice of CFD asset classes is continually growing as more brokers come to the market. However, do your research to make sure they can be trusted!