It's official: The IRS has its eyes on your virtual gold.
Well, sort of official, anyway. And maybe more like just the corner of one eye. But as Yours Truly reports in the latest issue of Legal Affairs magazine, IRS advisers specializing in the arcane field of barter income recently offered the opinion that any trade of one virtual item for another--gold pieces for thick leather, uber drops for plat--could very well constitute a taxable, income-generating exchange according to the IRS's rules on barter.
I repeat: Not dollars for dragon scales. Not sterling for staves. Every blessed, innocent, RP-consistent trade of one virtual good for another, so long as each good has a determinable fair-market value (and name one that doesn't these days).
For assurance that such a ruling would indeed be consistent with the
IRS's present and past practices, you can RTFA or just take my word
for it. In any case, there are sure to be plenty of voices raised in
blood-curdling objection to the very notion, and if you want to join
the chorus, feel free. But what I'm hoping for from this uniquely
well-informed crowd is a discussion that takes seriously the idea that
tax authorities the world over may one day track trades in virtual
gold as routinely as they track income in foreign currencies--and
seriously contemplates the consequences.
this be the death of the industry? The last nail in the coffin
of immersive game play? How hard, or how easy, would it be for
developers to monitor in-game trades and issue year-end 1099s to every
player? Dare we think the unthinkable? Dare we pretend it will never