SecondLife is back on the RealWorld radar – The US Congress

One of Adam Reuters first dispatches from SecondLife is a story about how virtual economies in online worlds such as SecondLife and World of Warcraft have drawn the attention of a U.S. congressional committee, which is investigating how virtual assets and incomes should be taxed.

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.

For example, in Second Life up to US$500,000 in user-to-user transactions take place every day, and the economy is growing by 10 to 15 percent a month.

With all that money rolling around, legislation regarding things like ownership and property rights in virtual worlds are long overdue.   Unfortunately, with recognition of assets and property come the spectre of taxes.

“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. “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 said

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