New York Assembly introduces crypto payments bill for fines, taxes

A bill introduced to the New York State Assembly on Jan. 26 would allow state agencies to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for fines, civil penalties, taxes, fees and other payments charged by the state.

New York State Assembly Bill A523 was introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Clyde Vanel, who is often seen as a crypto-friendly politician. It allows state agencies to enter into “agreements with persons to provide the acceptance, by offices of the state, of cryptocurrency as a means of payment” for various types of fees, including “fines, civil penalties, rent, rates, taxes, fees, charges, revenue, financial obligations or other amounts, including penalties, special assessments and interest, owed to state agencies.” 

The bill does not obligate state agencies to accept crypto as payment, but it does clarify that state agencies can legally agree to accept such payments and that these agreements should be enforced by the courts.

The bill defines “cryptocurrency” as “any form of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency […] including but not limited to, bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin cash.”

Depending on how this definition is interpreted, it may or may not include stablecoins like USD Coin (USDC) and Tether (USDT). On the one hand, the supply of stablecoins is usually regulated by the issuer instead of by cryptography. On the other hand, the bill does recognize that some cryptocurrencies have an “issuer,” and it provides that agencies can charge the payor an extra fee if such a fee is charged by the cryptocurrency’s issuer.

Related: Arizona state senator pushes to make Bitcoin legal tender

To become law, the bill will need to be passed by the New York Assembly and Senate, as well as signed into law by the state’s Governor, Kathy Hochul.

The New York state government is often seen as hostile to cryptocurrency. In November 2022, New York became the first state to pass a bill that banned nearly all cryptocurrency mining. It also has been criticized for the restrictive “BitLicense” it requires all crypto exchanges to acquire. In April 2022, the mayor of New York argued that the BitLicense law should be repealed.

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