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The Virtually Taxable Imaginary Economy

By Jason Lee Miller

If you thought your virtual assets were safe from government pick pocketing, think again. You know that pretend sword you sold for $500? The US government wants its cut.

Congress is unsure, though, how exactly you tax zeroes and ones -- or even if virtual assets can be taxed.

But you know, where there's a bill, there's a way.

Reuters' embedded Second Life virtual reporter, Adam Reuters (is there an Eve Reuters?), is reporting that the so-called virtual economies of MMORPG games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest are booming. People buy and sell goods just like you would in the real world, except that the goods are imaginary, even if the money's real.

"You could argue that to a certain degree the law has fallen (behind) because you can have a virtual asset and virtual capital gains, but there's no mechanism by which you're taxed on this stuff," Joint Economic Committee's senior economist Dan Miller told Mr. Reuters.

One day, they'll find a way to tax profitable ideas - while they're still in your head.

Maybe they can put that tax money toward social programs like MMORPG Anonymous, a future offshoot of Families Against EverQuest.

Or how about subsidized gym memberships?

Tanning bed vouchers?

Or maybe tax relief with the Get-A-Life tax credit. For every girl you can prove you talked to outside the basement, you can write off $5. Okay, $100, because that's kind of scary. But your mom and your sister don't count.

Don't expect a resolution too soon, as lawmakers and economists are trying to wrap their heads around this virtual economy thing. They've approached Sen. Ted Stevens to inquire how, exactly, money is transferred through the tubes. Is that like at the bank drive-through?

About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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