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First City in Canada to Trial Bitcoin Tax Payments

Canadian citizens in the city of Richmond Hill will soon be able to make municipal tax payments in bitcoin.
Canadian citizens in the city of Richmond Hill will soon be able to make municipal tax payments in bitcoin.

Canadian citizens in the city of Richmond Hill will soon be able to make municipal tax payments in bitcoin.

Canadian citizens in the city of Richmond Hill will soon have the choice to pay their municipal taxes in bitcoin. 

In partnership with Coinberry exchange, Richmond Hill is the first city and the second Canadian municipality to offer the option. Innisfil, a town of 36,000 just outside of Toronto, announced its own year-long trial in March 2019. Building on the momentum of this successful rollout, Coinberry is now outfitting the Richmond Hill government with the tools to accept bitcoin from its 200,000 constituents. 

The Richmond Hill city council gave its stamp of approval for the initiative in a July 10, 2019, vote, and Marina Krtinic, a representative of Coinberry, told Bitcoin Magazine that, while the final deal hasn’t been inked, “Coinberry will be the only partner” for the new feature. Like in Innisfil, the government will use Coinberry Pay, the exchange’s fiat rail, to process the bitcoin tax payments into CAD.

Expanding Bitcoin Tax Payments

This program only applies to the city’s municipal taxes, but a team of city staffers will report back on September 30, 2019, to evaluate whether the option might be effective for other levies, like property taxes or other city fees.

"We believe that the demand for a digital currency payment option is only going to grow in the coming years, especially amongst millennials," said Richmond Hill Deputy Mayor Joe Di Paola, who introduced the motion. "Our council was aware of Coinberry's successful implementation of a digital currency payment service with the Town of Innisfil, and since there was no cost and no risk to the City of Richmond Hill to do the same, it made the decision that much easier for us."

If the pilot goes well, it could set an example for other Canadian precincts, Coinberry believes. 

“We are reaching out to other municipalities, mostly centered around Ontario for now,” Krtinic said. “They’re going to be watching Innisfil [and] now Richmond Hill because it is a bigger municipality and they’re very close to Toronto,” where the city council has taken a softer stance on bitcoin and crypto as of late, she said.

Krtinic also mentioned that the service in Innisfil has seen modest interest from taxpayers, and officials have been largely receptive of the initiative. She added that Coinberry continues to work with governments toward solutions like this one, to inject legitimacy and trust into the Canadian government’s sometimes-stressed relationship with crypto companies (QuadrigaCX, for example, comes to mind).

Bitcoin Tax Payments in Toronto?

The end game for Coinberry, she said, is “to start a domino effect of other municipalities accepting crypto tax payments,” hooking as many municipal governments onto the tax option as possible. Toronto, however, would be the trophy catch.

“I don’t know about [it coming] next, but it is the prized tuna,” Krtinic said.

With a population of 2.7 million (swelling to 5.9 million in the greater metropolitan area), integrating bitcoin into the taxation process of Canada’s largest and fastest-growing city would be a boon for bitcoin adoption in the country. But at 200,000, Richmond Hill isn’t any little guppie, and the latest in Coinberry’s bitcoin tax initiative is a win for the industry in its own right.

“We are very happy to be entering into a partnership with our second Canadian Municipality,” said Andrei Poliakov, Coinberry CEO and co-founder.

“Leaders of government and enterprise organizations are realizing that, with the right partners, they can innovate with blockchain and digital currencies. We’re pleased to be working on additional innovative solutions with leading enterprise and municipal partners, and have a number of very exciting initiatives we will be announcing over the next several months.”