New Hampshire appears to have joined the race to become the American Bitcoin capital by introducing a new draft Bill “requiring the state treasurer to develop an implementation plan for the state to accept bitcoin as payment for taxes and fees”. The draft Bill was introduced to the State’s House of Representatives on 8 January 2015 with support from both Republican and Democrat sponsors. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC) where it had its first public hearing on 12 February before being retained in the Committee following an executive session on 17 February. Although this means the debate about the bill has been delayed until the next HWMC or executive session, its introduction still marks a significant step for Bitcoin.
If passed, the Bill would require the state treasurer to develop an implementation plan to address “any accounting, valuation, and management issues relative to the acceptance of bitcoin [as payment for taxes and fees]”. In its current form, the Bill would require the state treasurer to submit this plan to the New Hampshire State Senate by 1 January 2017, so that Bitcoins can be accepted as payment of taxes and fees by 1 July 2017.
The Fiscal Note to the Bill explains that “the Treasury Department states this Bill, as introduced, may increase state expenditures by an indeterminable amount in [fiscal year] 2016 and each year thereafter…[and it] will likely increase state expenditures because the Department has no familiarity with bitcoin cash operations and therefore cannot determine in advance how much time and effort will be required to become informed and address the areas of accounting, valuation and management.” At the same time, the Fiscal Note also states that “the Department of Revenue Administration and Department of Administrative Services state that there will be no fiscal impact.”
Whilst the Bill is still in the very early stages of legislative approval, it has the potential to provide quite a boost to the public perception of cryptocurrencies, if it is passed into law. However, with the unknown fiscal cost and general scepticism of governments towards an unregulated Bitcoin market, there are many hurdles for this Bill to jump before that may happen.