This Senate Candidate Wants to Make Bitcoin Legal Tender With No Taxes

“Zero tax transactions. Zero tax capital gains,” said Bryan Solstin, who is running in Washington State's Democratic Primary. “No upper limit."
This Senate Candidate Wants to Make Bitcoin Legal Tender With No Taxes
Images: Namthip Muanthongthae via Getty Images / Bryan Solstin

Embracing Bitcoin-friendly policies is fast becoming a playbook in American politics. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants to turn Miami into “Bitcoin City'' and pays employees and accepts taxes in Bitcoin. Meanwhile, Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, said he converted his first paycheck into Bitcoin and Ethereum. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has also touted the cryptocurrency on several occasions, presenting it as a solution to his state’s electricity failures.

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One of the latest entrants to the American political arena with a pro-Bitcoin policy platform is Bryan Solstin, who describes his past professions as a software developer, U.S. patent agent, and aerospace propulsion engineer, and hopes to add another one to list: U.S. senator for Washington state. 

In an announcement tweet that went viral on Tuesday, Solstin announced his candidacy in the Washington State Democratic primary and his chief goal: making Bitcoin legal tender in the U.S. “I declare my candidacy for US Senate. Making #Bitcoin Legal Tender in the USA will be my primary objective on the Senate floor. #Bitcoin is the Great Reset.”

Solstin, who lists 22 use-cases for Bitcoin that reads more like a wishlist, isn’t merely pro-Bitcoin in the sense of “Let's have friendly policies toward Bitcoin,” like some sitting senators. He wants to follow in the footsteps of El Salvador, which declared Bitcoin legal tender last year. He also wants there to be no capital gains taxes on Bitcoin, ever, with no upper limit, he told Motherboard. 

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“El Salvador was aggressive with Bitcoin legal tender. They will be rewarded. Early Bitcoin adopters will be rewarded,” Solstin said in an interview over email. “The US, however, is a bigger country. The US will have to [take] baby steps, then legal tender will be an obvious next step.”

In that first baby step of the zero-tax regime, Americans will cosy up to the experience of transacting with Bitcoin, and they won’t be forced to accept the digital currency—not yet, that is. Solstin says that “goods and services will not be denominated in USD for a long time” before Bitcoin becomes the norm. 

“Zero-tax on Bitcoin transactions is the first step. In comparison to legal tender, zero-tax means the merchants do not have to accept Bitcoin. Regardless, with zero-tax Bitcoin, many cafes, bars and grocery stores will accept BTC/LN,” he said, referring to the Lightning Network, Bitcoin’s second-layer solution that speeds up transactions–makes it almost instantaneous–and significantly reduces fees because the Bitcoin network itself isn’t really usable for everyday stuff due to transactions cost of around $1.5 these days and a processing time of about 10 minutes. Capital gains taxes are incurred any time someone sells Bitcoin—even if it were, say, for a cup of coffee—and so removing taxation requirements for smaller transactions has long been on the to-do list for industry advocates.

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“Zero tax transactions. Zero tax capital gains,” said Solstin. “No upper limit. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Imagine the frictionless velocity.”

Solstin is a proponent of the Lightning Network because, he claims in the typically blustery style of a maxi, it is “more secure than credit cards, more private than credit cards, more inclusive than credit cards (assuming KYC is not required you only need a phone), more energy efficient than credit cards, and more transaction capacity than a credit card company; such as Visa or Mastercard.”

Unlike many other pro-Bitcoin advocates on the political right, Solstin’s a socially-progressive candidate who embraces LGBT rights and is pro-choice on abortion matters, as per his campaign website

“Bitcoin, or sound monetary principles, are neither Democratic nor Republican,” he told Motherboard. “In addition, Bitcoin does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion. Unlike political fiat, controlled by the powerful, Bitcoin is radically inclusive. Bitcoin enforces rules without rulers.”

Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a prominent Democrat, leads the anti-Bitcoin policy push in the US, ringing alarm bells about Russians evading sanctions even though U.S. officials and blockchain experts suggest otherwise.

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“Warren conflates Bitcoin and climate change to protect Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Warren’s MMT is the reason the US is $30 trillion in debt,” Solstin said. His campaign website links to “WTF Happened in 1971”—a website dedicated to the idea that 1971 is the year the U.S. went off gold standard and thus the era of the “money printer,” debasement, and high inflation began, according to many Bitcoiners

Here, Solstin—who describes himself as “fiscally conservative”—throws in with explicitly libertarian ideas of money and politics, which animate the idea of Bitcoin as a kind of new, digital gold standard that is preferable to fiat currency. 

“Losing control of the magic money printer is the hidden reason Warren and the MMT-ers are misleading the public about Bitcoin. They are spreading a lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). When I am Senator Solstin, I will match all of Senator’s Warren’s letters regarding Bitcoin FUD with technical accuracy,” Solstin said.

Although Solstin wants to wave the orange flag of Bitcoin in the Senate, he has no appetite for other cryptocurrencies. He’s resolutely a Bitcoiner candidate. For the uninitiated, the difference is a huge deal: a strand of Bitcoin proponents known as Bitcoin maximalists oppose all cryptocurrencies but Bitcoin because they say “crypto” isn’t truly decentralized and largely beholden to insiders’ interests.

Solstin calls Ethereum “a DINO. Decentralized In Name Only.” and classifies it as a “a security,” which would imply its trade is unlawful because securities in the U.S. need to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I’m only interested in talking about decentralized currency,” he told Motherboard in reply to whether he thinks Ethereum is a scam like many Bitcoin maxis. “Crypto is doing good work, but I am opposed to Centralized Digital Coins. Beijing’s Communist China Party (CCP) is maturing a Central Bank Digital Coin (CBDC). I am opposed to CBDC, because CBDCs are surveillance coins. I am a privacy advocate.”

The elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on November 8, with 34 of the 100 seats up for grabs. If Solstin succeeds, one of them could turn a shade of orange that the Senate has never seen before.

Update: This piece was updated with additional comment from Bryan Solstin.