Updated: Sep 28
“There is the idea for a Texas constitutional amendment to allow property tax payment in Bitcoin. This would put Bitcoin on par with gold at the Texas Comptroller’s Office and Treasury.” – Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council.
Texas continues its push to become a Bitcoin and digital asset hub of innovation.
This year, Texas has implemented two laws to validate the recognition of cryptocurrencies under state commercial law. Texas House Bills 4474 and 1576 came into effect on September 1, 2021, after being signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot in June 2021. In Texas, H.B. 1576 established a blockchain working group, and H.B. 4474 provides the framework for using virtual currency under Texas law.
Joseph Kelly, CEO of Austin-based Unchained Capital, a Bitcoin financial services company, put H.B. 4474 into perspective. Kelly pointed out that these new laws provide Unchained and their clients greater legal certainty around purchasing activities of bitcoin and the acceptance of the currency as collateral for loans.
Prior to H.B. 4474, Kelly mentioned that Bitcoin was “too new and different.” He noted that previous laws were not well-suited to commercial transactions with Bitcoin. Kelly further explained that unclear definitions or uncertain judicial treatments for Bitcoin created unnecessary risks: “States that don’t move quickly to provide the sort of clarity such as H.B. 4474 leave their consumers and businesses at risk for disputes and potentially loss of funds.”
Texas was not the first state to pass crypto-friendly legislation. Caitlin Long, a Wyoming-based crypto proponent, former Wall Street executive, and now founder and CEO of Avanti Financial Group, pointed out that Wyoming, Rhode Island, and Nebraska have passed similar legislation.
The Texas Blockchain Council is leading the advancement of blockchain innovation by driving the push to amend Bitcoin into the Texas Constitution.
According to Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council, a Texas state amendment allowing property taxes to be paid in cryptocurrency is possible. Bratcher remarked that such an amendment would “put Bitcoin on par with gold at the Texas Comptroller’s Office and Treasury.”
While such an amendment would be a first for crypto-friendly states, a proposal would not be on the ballot until 2023. The Texas Blockchain Council and Texas House Representative Giovanni Capriglione of North Texas’ District 98 are working to make a Bitcoin amendment a reality.
Through the implementation of a Bitcoin amendment, legitimacy would be elevated beyond pure legislation. Of counsel at Foley & Lardner LLP, Peter Vogel told Cointelegraph that such an amendment would require a vote from Texas citizens. A passing vote by Texans would provide a more substantial legal standard than laws passed by the legislature that the governor signs.
The most substantial obstacle for the continued growth of crypto in Texas, as highlighted by Bratcher, is Washington, D.C. Federal regulators' lack of clarity on cryptocurrency has resulted in entrepreneurs voting with their feet by relocating to countries like Switzerland and Liechtenstein.