Bitcoin to pay property taxes? One Toronto councillor wants to make that happen

Want to use your Bitcoin to pay your property taxes? It may happen, if Coun. Norm Kelly’s motion is successful at Toronto City Council later this month.

Coun. Norm Kelly, who once tweeted wondering who understands Bitcoin, wants city to study cryptocurrencies

Coun. Norm Kelly will ask city hall to study whether the use of cryptocurrencies is feasible at city hall. (Guillaume Cottin/CBC)

Want to use your Bitcoin to pay your property taxes? It may happen, if Coun. Norm Kelly's motion is successful at Toronto City Council later this month.

Kelly (Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt) wants the city to study whether Toronto residents should be able to use cryptocurrency, the electronic currency of which Bitcoin is the most well-known, to pay bills such as property taxes, parking tickets and land transfer taxes.

Kelly will put the idea in a member motion, which will be heard at council's Jan. 31 meeting. It will ask city officials to study whether cryptocurrencies are a viable way for residents to pay various forms of tax.

"Hundreds of thousands of companies around the world have been accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment for quite a while now, why shouldn't governments also take advantage of this?" Kelly said in a statement released Monday by his office.

In an interview with CBC Toronto, Kelly said if his motion is adopted, a report would come back to council's budget committee either this year, or would be pushed to council's next term.

"I would hope that there would be an interest in getting a more professional set of eyes on the issue than just simply the feelings or speculations of members of council, as insightful as they may be," Kelly said.

The irony of Kelly being the one to propose a study into the use of cryptocurrencies is not lost on the former deputy mayor. Back on Dec. 12, Kelly tweeted: "Does anyone REALLY understand bitcoin?"

But less than a month later, on Jan. 9, Kelly tweeted that the online store, which sells his 6Dad line of merchandise, accepts Bitcoin.

"I've dipped my toe in the ocean," Kelly said, though to date there haven't been any bitcoin transactions on the site.

He noted that while there may be some detractors, cryptocurrencies are secure and efficient. Transactions are encrypted not only to maintain control of the currency, but also to keep a secure record.

"From my perspective – I'm an arts man – so what I'd like to do is have more professional eyes on this," Kelly said.

"And I'd rather be ahead of the wave than behind it."

Kelly said he's not sure what the reaction to his motion will be at city hall. But he wanted to put the idea forward.

"The city of Toronto has emerged as one of the premier cities of the world, and it's proud to be a centre of innovation and creativity and I think this adds to that brand," Kelly said. "Regardless of what happens, people know that we're not afraid of investigating and promoting the future."