The Weekly Standard is the latest media publication to take up the flag on an interesting but so far theoretical subject: the idea of placing taxes on goods bought and sold in online universes, including our own World of Warcraft. Their latest issue has a look at the markets, both virtual and real, appearing around online games, and they claim the markets are "much bigger than you might expect."
They quote both CNET and Wired on studies of the interaction between real and virtual dollars inside games like Project Entropia and Second Life, and come up with what seems like a pretty inflated figure to me: $880 million to $1 billion annually in the market for virtual goods. That, they say, is a big target for the IRS to go after. They end on a recent summit, at which an economist apparently claimed he was striving to determine "what is a taxable event in a virtual world."
Interesting article, even though it does get a little bit too overspeculative at the end. For those of you who want it, my analysis is after the break.
[ Thanks, Vince! ]