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New York again mulls letting people pay the state in crypto

Ah, the 2020s, in which we fund public roads and schools with Dogecoin

A state legislator in New York has introduced a law bill that would make it legal for state agencies to accept payment in cryptocurrency for taxes, fines and other "financial obligations." 

State Assembly bill A2532 was introduced last week by state Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, who was previously part of a state taskforce to investigate how to regulate and use cryptocurrency in New York.  

The bill is broad in its declarations, simply stating that each state agency has the right to enter into its own agreements with individuals to accept cryptocurrency payments for "fines, civil penalties, rent, rates, taxes, fees, charges, revenue, financial obligations or other amounts, including penalties, special assessments and interest, owed to state agencies." 

The bill also gives the okay for state agencies to pay the fees necessary to add transactions to whatever blockchain they're being stored on (the bill allows payment via currencies "including but not limited to, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash"), which can get pretty expensive.

It also allows state agencies to - optionally - require that cryptocurrency payees "pay a service fee to the state - including any fee owed by the state to the cryptocurrency issuer arising from that transaction."  In other words, be sure you pay those tax bills on days when blockchain activity is slow. 

New York: Not exactly the crypto state

New York was the first state in the US to ban bitcoin mining in late 2022 when Governor Kathy Hochul enacted a two-year moratorium on new mining activities in the state to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It also has rules that require licensing for cryptocurrency businesses in the state, and had been generally considered hostile to the technology. Vanel has introduced the same bill four times since 2017. Each time, it's been referred to committee and never made it out, so bear that in mind. The draft law would also need to clear the state senate as well as the assembly.

Vanel didn't say whether he has better hopes for this attempt, but he did tell us that getting crypto into the hands of every payment processor at a state agency isn't necessarily his goal. He's trying to make it easier for people who owe the state money to pay it, he told us.

"I'm dealing with some state agencies that still don't accept credit cards; others still only take payment in cash and money order," Vanel told The Register. "States should be able to use the methods of value exchange that people are using today." 

Those methods of exchange include other forms of electronic payment like peer-to-peer transfer apps Venmo, PayPal, ApplePay and the like. Vanel has also introduced bills to explore whether the government could accept payments via those avenues as well. 

I'm dealing with some state agencies that still don't accept credit cards

Vanel told us that, depending on how that legislation fairs, he may not even push his crypto initiative too hard. "I'm trying to close financial gaps by getting the state to accept payments in the same way the rest of the world does. Once we get there, then we can figure out how to use different types of digital currencies," Vanel said. 

In other government-related blockchain news, California recently announced plans to place vehicle titles on a private blockchain. Meanwhile former UK Prime Minister, no, not the last one but Boris Johnson, told a group of blockchain enthusiasts in Singapore that the technology still hasn't really found a good reason to exist. ®

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