Politician Keen for Vancouver Citizens to Pay Taxes in Bitcoin

Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Sep 18, 2014 at 13:19 UTC
Updated Dec 27, 2014 at 04:21 UTC

A Vancouver politician says the city should allow residents to pay their taxes, fines and fees using bitcoin.

Jason Lamarche won 37,286 votes in a recent council election, and now he says he would solicit bitcoin donations if he chose to run again.

In an interview with the Georgia Straight, Lamarche questioned why municipal politicians aren’t discussing bitcoin’s disruptive potential. He pointed out that many people describe Vancouver as the Silicon Valley of the north, yet the city is not doing much to promote new technology.

Lamarche explained:

“Well, when we have companies that are working on the type of innovation that we’re seeing related to bitcoin, why aren’t we helping to promote and use this technology, which clearly has had massive uptake around the world?”

However, the city said it has no plans to consider accepting bitcoin payments at this time.

Bitcoin donations are legal in Vancouver

The issue of whether political donations made in bitcoin are legal was addressed by Nola Western, the deputy chief electoral officer at election information resource Elections BC.

Western confirmed parties and candidates taking part in Vancouver’s upcoming November elections can accept bitcoin donations. She explained bitcoins are treated as non-monetary property and candidates simply need to report the dollar value of bitcoin donations.

The value is set on the day the donation is received, so if the bitcoin price goes up or down in the meantime there is no need to report any changes in value.

However, anonymous donations are limited to $50 and anyone wishing to donate more will have to disclose their identity, complete with address, full name and other details. Such donations have to be reported by the recipient. Western also cautioned that if a candidate received a lot of anonymous $50 donations in bitcoin, questions about their source would be raised.

Bitcoin campaign funding elsewhere

The use of bitcoin in political fundraising is not new. The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) made it clear that political campaigns and action committees can accept bitcoin as a form of in-kind donation.

A number of US politicians and political groups started accepting bitcoin over the past couple of years. Earlier this month, the Republican Party of Louisiana became one of the first state republican parties to accept the digital currency.

Although most US politicians who decided to embrace bitcoin tend to have libertarian views, but many others do not – they come from across the political spectrum.

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