The German Finance Ministry ruled that Bitcoin is a "unit of account", and therefore 'mining' them is a form of "money creation".

This means that, like stocks or shares, any profit from them is subject to Germany's capital gains tax, at 25pc -- unless they are held for more than a year, according to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

However, the ruling may prove difficult to enforce, as Bitcoin are traded anonymously, and therefore cannot be traced.

In June, America's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said it was examining the use of virtual currencies such as bitcoins amid fears that Americans are using them to evade taxes.

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