Pittsburgh: Bitcoin Too Unstable for Local Tax Payments

By July 18, 2014Bitcoin Business
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Pittsburgh: Bitcoin Too Unstable for Local Tax Payments


Earlier this week a report surfaced suggesting that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was considering accepting bitcoin as part of a bid to improve the ability of residents to pay local taxes, fines and fees.

The move, as suggested by Let’s Talk Bitcoin, would have made the 300,000-person city “the first municipality to accept bitcoin”, a decision that could have had a potentially wide-ranging impact on other local governments in the US.

However, in new statements to CoinDesk, city officials have confirmed that while “digital currency was indeed mentioned in one of the transition reports written before [current Mayor William Peduto] took office,” the city has “no current plans to take the currency”.

Speaking to CoinDesk, the city’s finance director Paul Leger further elaborated on Pittsburgh’s stance on bitcoin and other emerging firms of digital payment, stating:

“The city is not currently considering using digital currency because our first concern is to use credit, debit and other forms of payment which are more widely available to taxpayers.”

The original subcommittee report mentioning bitcoin was seemingly published toward the end of 2013, as suggested by the dating on the document, and addressed the possible use of bitcoin for revenue collection. However, it has only recently drawn larger notice from the bitcoin and wider digital currency community.

Long-term stability needed

Perhaps most notably, Leger hinted at some of the underlying discussions that may have taken place at the time of the original proposal.

For example, Leger suggested that Pittsburgh, which has struggled in recent years to avoid a high-profile bankruptcy, isn’t ruling out accepting bitcoin eventually. However, he stressed that the digital currency needs to establish some longevity in the financial world before anything can happen.

Leger added:

“We would need to see a longer term proof of stability for digital currency to be good stewards of the public’s funds.”

Pittsburgh officials also suggested that the city’s consideration of bitcoin as a payment method could have been generated by residents, stating that they “took public input from more than 1,000 local residents on changes they would like to see to city government” to create the document.

Payments overhaul

A core reason for delay, city officials suggest, is that the suggestion was merely part of a larger plan to diversify the municipality’s payment offerings.

“Currently residents cannot even regularly use credit or debit cards for all payments,” a city spokesperson said.

Though no municipalities are yet accepting bitcoin, there have been localized movements to generate bitcoin enthusiasm in other certain locations.

For example, residents of Arnhem, a city in The Netherlands, declared the area “bitcoin city” earlier this year as part of a promotional bid that was not affiliated with any government officials.

For more on that event, read our full report here.

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