Florida’s Seminole County Tax Office will begin allowing residents to pay for some government services in bitcoin or bitcoin cash.
In a press release issued May 14, the Seminole County Tax Office in Florida has announced that it will partner with BitPay to accept cryptocurrency as payment for government services. These services include vehicle tag and title fees, property tax, and driver license and ID card fees.
“We live in a world where technology has made access to services on demand, with same-day delivery and the expectation of highly efficient customer service and we should expect the same from our government,” Seminole County Tax Collector Joel M. Greenberg said. “The aim of my tenure in office is to make our customer experience faster, smarter, and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st century and one way is the addition of cryptocurrency to our payment options.”
BitPay provides a service that allows users to spend bitcoin and bitcoin cash through a Visa-backed card at online and physical locations that accept Visa. Greenberg told ETHNews that the Seminole County Tax Office has received assurance that all transactional risk will be absorbed by BitPay; the coin price at the time of the transaction will be locked in for 15 minutes and spot conversion into fiat currency will be automatic.
Accepting cryptocurrency payments will allow users to skip higher fees charged by many third-party processors, while still ensuring transparency; BitPay charges a one-percent rate on all transactions.
“This will be an educational process for my county and constituents,” Greenberg told ETHNews. “I’m 33, so I am more comfortable with this technology than most, but as with the internet in the ’90s, introducing this technology publicly will help to make more of my constituents comfortable with it. I’m not afraid of cryptocurrency or new currencies; it’s my obligation to serve my citizens by offering as many options as possible for my constituents to pay their bills.”
While Arizona and Georgia have also introduced bills that would allow cryptocurrencies to be used for state payments, they have both been stalled. Arizona’s bill has been adjourned sine die, or tabled indefinitely, while Georgia’s bill was not acted on before the state legislature commenced recess. Seminole County is acting without collaboration or input from any other Florida county or from the state government.
Per Greenberg, Seminole County is currently accepting bids for a project that would transition the county’s tax records to a blockchain, which would significantly improve the portability and efficiency of the county’s record searching processes.
“BitPay was started because we recognized the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry, making payments faster, more secure, and less expensive on a global scale,” Jeremie Beaudry, Head of Compliance at BitPay said, “With the Seminole County Tax Collector’s office, we have engaged our first government agency to accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash by making it easy and seamless for them.”