A new bill proposed in New Hampshire could obligate the state treasury to draw up plans to accept Bitcoin as payment for taxes.
Proposed by independent Republican representative for New Hampshire, Eric Schleien, bill HR552 would obligate the state's treasurer to “develop an implementation plan for the state to accept bitcoin as payment for taxes and fees beginning July 1, 2017.”
With a total of eight sponsors including both Republicans and Democrats, the bill was first introduced to the House on January 1. It now sits with the Ways and Means committee, a standing body tasked with reporting back to the House with an opinion on financial legislation.
If the bill is passed by the House, it would make the New Hampshire the first S state to accept the digital currency at an official level. California caused a stir at the start of 2015 by effectively “unbanning” digital currencies such as Bitcoin from being used for transactions in the state.
Cointelegraph spoke to CEO of Galactic Systems, Mike Lorrey, who ran in for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2014 on a similar pro-cryptocurrency platform. Lorrey argues that Bitcoin can offer New Hampshire advantages in terms of cost, while the state's use of the digital currency could equally boost Bitcoin's general reputation. He explains:
“This bill is the sort of legislation that benefits the crypto community increases demand for Bitcoin and saves the taxpayer significant transaction costs. It is what we need to see rather than absurd bit license bills that are nothing but barriers against consumers and competition to line politicians pockets.”
Already appearing to drag its heels on the idea however, is the Treasury Department, which released its initial fiscal note on the bill stating:
“[T]his bill will likely increase state expenditures because the Department has no familiarity with bitcoin cash operations and therefore cannot determine in advance how much time and effort will be required to become informed and address the areas of accounting, valuation, and management.”
New Hampshire itself is well known as a particularly libertarian American state, with the famous phrase “Live Free or Die” as the state motto. The state has some of the lowest taxes in the contiguous United States with the most revenue coming from the state's property tax due to lack of income or sales taxes.
Cointelegraph reported back in August 2014 on the New Hampshire Governor hopeful, Andrew Hemingway, and his own proposal for a “BitLiberty” bill in response to New York's “BitLicense.” Although Hemingway did not succeed in his election bid, the 32 year old entrepreneur had also campaigned on the idea of “accepting Bitcoin for taxes statewide, leaving Bitcoin unregulated, and leveraging the blockchain to make government transparent and efficient.”
Bill HR522's own proponent, Schleien, is also no stranger to the world of digital currencies, having previously made headlines as one of the political candidates helped by CoinVox to accept Bitcoin donations to his successful 2014 election bid for the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
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