Isle of Man residents and businesses could soon have the option to pay their taxes in bitcoin, according to a government representative who indicated the option is under serious consideration.
"Everything from paying your car tax to your income tax bill, we're seeking to operate a wider range of choices for citizens and businesses for how they can settle their account with the government," said Chris Corlett, chief executive of the government's department of economic development.
The island's government is currently inviting expressions of interest from payment services providers, including those dealing in digital currencies, so that they may be considered for inclusion in the payment options available. Companies must submit their expression of interest by noon of 3rd October.
Corlett said the number of new payment providers will not be capped, meaning multiple new providers could be selected. He also said a date for the selection of new providers had not been decided yet, although he noted the process typically takes about two months.
"We'll need to ensure the organisations are suitably competent and all parties have their monies protected. This is the best way of showing we are open-minded about digital currencies," he said.
More payment methods needed
The Isle of Man is a self-governing dependency of the British crown. The local government currently takes payments in person, at counters around the island, where people can pay with debit and credit cards. It also accepts payments in the form of direct bank transfers.
Payment platforms like PayPal, which allow users to store payment details using an online wallet or to enable repeat payments, are not currently permitted to be used, according to the official notice announcing the call for expressions of interest.
Rather, the government is seeking digital currency services that will let customers perform transactions at "points of presence", using card services or over-the-counter methods, as well as facilitating transactions online. The notice also says the government is seeking card services providers with points of presence and online capabilities.
"Reassure us that you have the right KYC, AML and governance procedures that we can rely upon. If you convince Government Technology Services and Treasury of that, we can hopefully add several to our list of payment providers," said Corlett.
Government won't hold bitcoin
Corlett stressed that the government would not hold digital currencies, even if bills were settled that way. However, he said that the decision to seek digital currency payment solutions was a "simple one" and was not subject to much objection within the government.
"There is an evolution here, given what we've learned about digital currencies in the last year, it was a relatively simple decision to take," he said.
Professional services providers on the island welcomed the announcement.
Kevin Perks, director at consultancy I-Cap, which provides services to companies looking to relocate to the Isle of Man, including several digital currency-related companies, was enthusiastic about the potential for digital currency payments to the government:
"I think it's extremely bold. In terms of the day-to-day reality, I'm not sure how many people will actually choose to settle their bills in [cryptocurrency]. But it's about sending a message to the outside world, to say this jurisdiction is open to this type of business. It's part of a revolution."
Man selecting bitcoin image via Shutterstock