DeSantis: Florida businesses should be able to pay taxes with cryptocurrency

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday expressed a desire for Florida to allow cryptocurrency to pay taxes in the state.

The governor’s comments came during a news conference in Wesley Chapel, where he signed a financial literacy curriculum bill into law. The bill adds personal finance education to high school graduation requirements.

“It was kind of mentioned in some of the comments – cryptocurrency, for example – we are working and I’ve told state agencies, figure out a way that if a business wants to pay tax in cryptocurrency to Florida, we should be willing to accept that,” DeSantis said. “So we’re working through that.”

The governor said he had allocated some funding in his proposed budget to “experiment with blockchain technology” but the legislature “didn’t pick up” the initiative for the coming fiscal year’s appropriations.

Still, DeSantis said cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, among others, are something Florida’s government should be willing to accept for payment of tax. However, he pushed back on recent federal suggestions to potentially make the U.S. dollar into a digital currency.

President Joe Biden had proposed the potential for doing so in an executive order issued on March 9. His order emphasized the need for America to step forward and look at how the economy is developing. It asked the Federal Reserve to explore how the U.S. could use its own digital currency, or digitize the dollar.

The Biden order is focused on what it refers to as “combined market capitalization.” It said that from November 2016 to November 2021, the digital marketplace grew from a $14 billion industry to $3 trillion in “non-state issued digital assets.” Those assets, per DeSantis’ commentary, are decentralized, or not controlled by an institution or nation, state or group, therein.

According to two of Biden’s advisors, the new executive order would establish a national strategy for handling digital assets, and put the U.S. in a leading role for domestic and international innovation. Since cryptocurrency remains on an expanding path, the executive order is aimed at addressing the need to expand access to safe and affordable financial services while reducing the cost for cross-border and domestic transfers and payments.

Despite the order’s scope and focus on exploration rather than direct action, DeSantis expressed concern over the impact of a centrally, federally controlled U.S. currency, and what that could mean for residents.

“There’s a difference between a decentralized digital currency, cryptocurrency, like a bitcoin, and what some are talking about doing at the federal level to convert U.S. dollars into basically a digital currency. I think there’s a lot of hazards with that, and that’s centrally controlled,” DeSantis said. “I worry about the amount of power that that would give someone in a central authority to basically be able to shut off access to purchasing certain goods. We’d be in uncharted territory.”

According to the order, developing payment and digital assets to further adjust to meet U.S. needs and interests will remain at the top of the country’s standards, but must maintain U.S. focus on democratic values, among other needs, including rule of law, privacy, and national security.

He said imagining the ability of the federal government to control whether someone could participate in the U.S. market or economy was something he was “very concerned about,” and mentioned giving financial institutions the ability to “cut people off” at the direction of the federal government could be dangerous. DeSantis said it was an initiative the state should watch closely.

That said, Biden’s executive order is mainly focused on adapting to changing financial practices, primarily “activities involving digital assets” that the president said are “within the scope of existing domestic laws and regulations.”

The potential federal digital currency was “different from things that are not run by a government agency, like a bitcoin which is decentralized,” according to DeSantis. “So we will accept bitcoin, we’re working on doing that, for payments in the state of Florida.”

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