Swiss municipality to accept bitcoin for tax payments from January 2018

The move has been driven by its aim to attract fast-growing fintech and crypto-currency start-ups to the region.

The Swiss municipality of Chiasso will enable its citizens to pay their tax bills using a digital currency from the start of next year in a bid to burnish its tech credentials.

The municipality, which is located on Switzerland’s southern border with Italy, is attempting to replace lost tax revenues from a banking sector that has contracted in the wake of the financial crisis by attracting fast-growing fintech and crypto-currency start-ups to the region.

In the last few months, eight cryptocurrency and blockchain companies have established their headquarters in the canton of Ticino in which Chiasso is located. The decision to enable citizens to settle tax bills of up to CHF250 (US$257) using bitcoin was taken following consulting with them.

Chiasso, which has branded itself ‘CryptoPolis’, is also hoping to take on another canton called Zug with its so-called ‘Crypto Valley’. Last year, Zug launched a pilot project in which it accepted bitcoin payments for council services of up to CHF200 (US$205). It has since officially adopted the scheme.

Although the value of bitcoin and other virtual currencies has been volatile lately due to China’s decision to crack down on initial coin offerings – an unregulated means by which funds are raised for new cryptocurrency ventures – and possibly banning bitcoin exchanges altogether, one bitcoin is currently worth US$5,169.