Ohio is leading the charge in terms of accepting bitcoin as a payment method, as it is the first state to accept bitcoin to cover tax bills.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, reported businesses in the state will be able to go to OhioCrypto.com and register to pay for a range of taxes, from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes, with bitcoin. The state will eventually open it up to individual tax filers as well.
The idea came to fruition care of State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has held the office since 2011 and was an early adopter of bitcoin a few years back. Mandel, who is 41 years old, sees the new program as a way to increase convenience for tax filers and as an opportunity for “planting a flag” for Ohio as digital tokens get more broadly adopted.
“I do see [bitcoin] as a legitimate form of currency,” Mandel said, noting that he hopes other states will follow Ohio’s lead. While the backing by Ohio won’t change bitcoin’s legal status, it is giving it a bit of legitimacy, which it has so far been lacking. Jerry Brito, director of Coin Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm, told the paper that if tax offices accept bitcoin as a payment method, it sends a signal that bitcoin can also be used by the government, not just the bad guys.
As an elected official, Mandel has the authority to direct his office to accept bitcoin without the need for approval from lawmakers or the governor. Arizona, Georgia and Illinois have considered accepting bitcoin for taxes, but the idea has stalled in the state legislature, reported The WSJ.
Ohio filers will send their tax payments to BitPay, a payment processor that will convert the bitcoin into dollars for Ohio’s treasurer’s office. Mandel isn’t sure how many businesses will pay taxes in bitcoin, although he did tell the paper that some companies in Ohio requested it.