Can You Be Paid in Bitcoin? Politicians Get Bitcoin Paychecks

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Nov. 5 2021, Published 12:42 p.m. ET

In a sword fight of sorts, a mayor and mayor-elect took to Twitter to talk about the size of their Bitcoin paychecks. Bitcoin is at the helm of a novel asset class and most people have yet to touch the stuff—let alone get paid with it.

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Can people really get paid in Bitcoin instead of fiat currency? For those who want to dive head-first into crypto, what does it take to get a Bitcoin paycheck or salary?

NYC mayor-elect one-ups Miami mayor

NYC mayor-elect Eric Adams one-upped Miami Mayor Francis Suarez in a Twitter exchange in early November.

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Investor and entrepreneur Anthony Popliano started the exchange by writing, "It is time. Who is going to be the first American politician to accept their salary in Bitcoin?"

Suarez quickly responded, "I’m going to take my next paycheck 100% in Bitcoin…problem solved!"

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Adams chimed in a few days later and responded, "In New York we always go big, so I’m going to take my first THREE paychecks in Bitcoin when I become mayor. NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries! Just wait!"

The friendly heat between the two mayors pits the cities as potential hubs for crypto growth and integration.

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Turns out you can actually receive a Bitcoin paycheck

Some employees or freelancers are getting paid in Bitcoin as part of their salary or earnings. For people working across international borders, Bitcoin payments can reduce transfer costs. Others want to protect their identities or take part in the DeFi (decentralized finance) revolution. Given Bitcoin's substantial intermittent gains, some employees just want to absorb those capital gains.

As for the mayor and hopeful mayor, their motives are more about posing them as crypto-friendly for their constituents.

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Should you get your paycheck in Bitcoin?

Of course, the risks of receiving a Bitcoin paycheck include value volatility. You would have to be quite liquid and financially stable to be able to accept Bitcoin instead of cash without the risk of losing your livelihood. Also, when you cash out your Bitcoin, you're subject to capital gains taxes and income taxes. Unless you hold the crypto for a year or more, those short-term capital gains taxes can be high.

One employer wanted their Bitcoin back after it rose 700 percent

In May, an employee wrote into The Moneyist and said, "My employer paid me in crypto. It rose 700% in value. Now he wants employees to return the crypto and accept dollars." The column's adviser suggested that the employee keep the Bitcoin and uphold the contract. For the employer, Bitcoin was a way for him to get out of paying his employees what they were worth, but it backfired.

How to get paid in Bitcoin

One of the modern wonders of the world includes platforms that allow salary paychecks in Bitcoin. Crypto payroll services include Bitwage and Laborx. There's also the option for employers to pay employees or contractors directly with Bitcoin, sans the use of a third party. Platforms like Anypay and Coinpayments generate crypto invoices.

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