Even though President Biden has just announced a Executive Decree on cryptocurrencies, states still have little guidance on how to respond to the growing popularity of digital currencies. So, a number of states are moving forward with their own crypto bills.
What was once considered a niche game for tech enthusiasts and crypto investors is now becoming a mainstream financial asset. Some bills go so far as to try to make crypto legal tender, meaning it would be recognized by law to settle debts, both public and private.
Here’s what some states are doing:
Republican Senator Wendy Rogers introduced legislation in January pushing to make one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, legal tender.
This would change what the state considers legal tender and allow Bitcoin to be used for the payment of state debt, taxes and duties.
A bill introduced by Democratic State Senator Sydney Kamlager in February would allow the state to accept crypto payments for state services, including permits, DMV licenses, certificates and government taxes. State.
“That would pave the way for you to use digital currency to pay for some of those transaction fees and products that you have to get from the state.” Kamlager said.
A bench search investigation showed that Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics were more likely than Whites to say they had invested in or used cryptocurrencies. Given this, she says her bill would hopefully address economic inequality. “People have been destabilized financially, either because of their race, or because of their gender, or because of their financial past, or because of their past circumstances, or because of financial abuse. And that presents a opportunity to wash it all away,” Kamlager said.
A separate legislative effort by former California State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon and Bitcoin advocate Dennis Porter would make Bitcoin (and no other cryptocurrency) legal tender in the state. .
Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, announced on social media that the state will begin accepting crypto payments for state taxes and fees and hopes to do so by the end of summer this year.
We require a payment provider to accept the crypto equivalent and deposit the dollars into the state treasury for that amount. It’s a bit like credit card payments, with the bonus that there is no return payment! pic.twitter.com/H8MaFV1ojE
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) February 23, 2022
A major criticism of crypto is its volatility; prices can vary significantly in a single day. Colorado plans to use “a third-party exchange that accepts virtual currency, converts it to US dollars, and transmits the US dollars to the state” through an electronic funds transfer, spokeswoman Kate Powell said. of Governor Polis.
If successful, the governor will explore crypto payments for all types of payments made to the state.
In 2018, Ohio became the first state to accept Bitcoin as a tax payment. But this effort was short-lived. The online portal that allowed businesses to pay their taxes in Bitcoin shut down less than a year after it was introduced.
In a statement to NPR, the Ohio Treasurer Office sought to clarify that “no form of cryptocurrency is accepted or held by the Ohio Treasury.” He also noted that during the months the online portal was active, only 10 companies chose to pay their taxes by this method.
Four members of the Wyoming state legislature have introduced a bill that would allow the state treasurer to issue stablecoins, a cryptocurrency that attempts to offer price stability and – unlike cryptos such as Bitcoin or Ethereum – is backed by a reserve asset such as the US Dollar.
Popular cryptos, such as Bitcoin, are legal in the United States, although the IRS currently classifies any form of virtual currency as property, not legal tender.
So far, the federal government has not responded directly, as states decide for themselves whether or not to declare cryptocurrencies legal tender.
Although most of these bills are in their infancy, advocates like Calderon believe they can clear up the confusion about what can and cannot be done with crypto. “So if there’s a bit more clarity, just from a local government perspective, that will help tremendously. It’s something that government needs to step in and start recognizing, it’s not going to go away.”
Anthony Tellez is an intern at NPR’s business office