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The big cryptocurrency news this week was that Ohio became the first state to allow you to pay your taxes with Bitcoin.
Here’s the catch: You can’t actually pay your Ohio taxes with Bitcoin.
What you can do (if you are a business that owes Ohio taxes; this new systems applies only to businesses) is go to a website set up by the Ohio Treasurer, enter how much you owe in taxes, in dollars, for a specific tax period, and then sell Bitcoin to a third party, Bitpay, which sends the dollars to the state.
As this special purpose website, OhioCrpyto.com, says:
“at no point will the Treasurer’s office hold cryptocurrency. Payments made on OhioCrypto.com, through our third-party cryptocurrency payment processor partner BitPay, are immediately converted to USD before being deposited into a state account.”
Despite the dozens and dozens of headlines saying that you can pay your Ohio business taxes in Bitcoin, you cannot actually pay your taxes in Bitcoin. What you can do is sell Bitcoin and buy dollars to pay your taxes.
Part of what’s going on here is that “Ohio Allows People to Sell Assets With a Dollar Value for Dollars to Pay Taxes” is a story nobody is going to write, even though it’s true.
stock, your car, your house, sweet light crude: They all have some dollar value and you can sell them to pay your tax bill. And, when tax bills come due, it’s not uncommon for people to sell stuff to pay them. It’s just boring and not particularly newsworthy unless it’s a billionaire selling a Monet to get out from under a lien.
So this seems to be a case of a politician seeing the hype that gets attached to Bitcoin-anything and deciding he would like some of it for himself. The press was the point.
When Barron’s spoke with the state treasurer, Josh Mandel, at the Consensus Invest conference in New York on Tuesday, his crypto adviser, Ari Lewis, was tagging along with him. (A spokeswoman for the Treasurer’s office said Lewis’s role is paid.)
You may remember Lewis from this 2017 Financial Times story about crypto hedge funds. Lewis graduated from Case Western last year and runs Grasshopper Capital, which he said “are long-term investors” in cryptocurrency.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Treasurer at first said there is no conflict of interest because Lewis personally does not own Bitcoin. She later clarified to say that Grasshopper also does not own Bitcoin.
“China is preparing to end its $176 billion experiment in peer-to-peer lending,” Bloomberg writes.
Business Insider reports that Revolut, a $1.7 billion UK fintech, is coming to the U.S. in 2019.
Millennials in China are using nudes to secure loans, Vice reports.
Write to Ben Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org