Ohio to accept bitcoin for tax bills

The “Buckeye State” is set to become the first state in the nation to accept cryptocurrency for tax bills.

Beginning this week, Ohio businesses will be able to use bitcoin to pay for everything from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes by registering on the website OhioCrypto.com. The state plans to eventually expand the option to individual filers.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

According to the new website, the idea came from Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has held the office since 2011.

Treasurer Mandel believes in leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide Ohioans more options and ease while interfacing with state government,” the website said.

The state also said it hopes to become a national leader in blockchain technology and is excited to become one of the first governments in the world to accept digital currencies as a form of payment. The site, however, did not list any other forms of crypto payments, such as Litecoin.

And this isn’t Mandel’s first rodeo in leveraging technology in the state either. In 2014, he launched OhioCheckbook.com, which put all the state spending information on the internet and boosted its ranking around the country for its transparency.

The news comes as bitcoin and other notable cryptocurrencies have lost significant value over the last week – and year – from its big rally last year. On Monday, bitcoin traded below $4,000, down more than 80 percent since its all-time high of $20,000 in December 2017.

Despite the ups and down, Mandel told the Journal, he sees bitcoin “as a legitimate form of currency” and hopes other states will follow his lead.

And while Ohio’s move wouldn’t give bitcoin legal status, it does send a message that its technology can be used by anyone.

Arizona, Georgia and Illinois have also considered using bitcoin for taxes, but bills addressing the issue have stalled in their state legislatures.

For Ohio business filers looking to use the new service to pay taxes, they will technically send their tax payments to an Atlanta-based payments processor called Bitpay, which will convert the bitcoin to dollars for the state’s treasurer’s office, the Journal said.

Mandel is expected to make an official announcement on Monday.