Monday, October 16, 2006

Soon, The Dollar Really WILL Be Monopoly Money...

Virtual economies attract real-world tax attention

By Adam Pasick

LONDON (Reuters) - Users of online worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft transact millions of dollars worth of virtual goods and services every day, and these virtual economies are beginning to draw the attention of real-world authorities.

"Right now we're at the preliminary stages of looking at the issue and what kind of public policy questions virtual economies raise -- taxes, barter exchanges, property and wealth," said Dan Miller, senior economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

"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," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The increasing size and public profile of virtual economies, the largest of which have millions of users and gross domestic products that rival those of small countries, have made them increasingly difficult for lawmakers and regulators to ignore.
You know, it's a game. Second Life, World of Warcraft, they're games.

Yes, from time to time, you see an eBay auction, but that's real-world, reportable income, and by law, should be reported (although I can't imagine anyone but a regular dealer in this stuff would report it). And that's fine. You make actual income that you can use to buy actual goods. You receive a real benefit from that transaction.

But to buy a virtual lapdance? So you can fire up your fantasies and masturbate? Yeesh. That's just sad. If this was a different day of the year, say April 1, or a different news outlet, say the The Weeky World News, then I'd get the joke.

But I ain't laughing. Opening this door would literally mean opening the door to having Monopoly games tracked, or any of a dozen other games where fake money changes hands.