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Posts with tag taxes

Officers' Quarters: Tax time


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.


In the United States, federal and state taxes are due in just a few days -- April 15 is the deadline. If you haven't figured out your taxes by now, you're probably in a bit of a panic. Though we often resent paying, taxes are the price of living in an organized society. They pay for defense, schools, roads, social programs and a host of other benefits. Some we can all agree on; some are a matter of fierce debate. In a guild, taxes are often a controversial issue. Some guilds who use point-based systems like DKP will tax members' point totals to prevent point hoarding. This week, one reader is wondering about a different kind of tax.

Hi Scott,

I am a member of a casual raiding guild. Recently some of the officers have been kicking around the idea of a "raid tax" -- a set value of mats used in a week's worth of 25-man raiding that can be paid by members either in gold or through supplying the mats themselves. It's funny because the "tax" for a given week sounds exorbitant to me (close to 1,000 gold when they figure in the price of enchanting mats and gems for loot).

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Should your GM be able to tax you?

This idea's been floated before, but a few people on the forums have responded pretty enthusiastically to the notion of introducing a "guild income tax." Others...not so much so. Basically, there was a proposal made in the Beta forums that Blizzard give GM's/officers the ability to levy a percentage-based tax on members' earnings. Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan responded, saying that it "was an interesting idea" and they're considering options for improving guild administration, but there was no way they could program a change like this in time for Wrath. Bear in mind that the original tax being suggested would apply to your toon both inside and out of raids (although no one was seriously suggesting that the tax should apply to non-raiding members of the guild).

I have to admit that I'm not too keen on the idea of a broad-based "income tax" on players, if only because the game's current mechanics make it all but certain that the main beneficiaries will be people who either can't (due to class/spec) or won't put much gold into the guild coffers. Moreover, the taxation idea acts as an incentive for people not to guild their alts, thus avoiding taxation entirely on toons that are usually the real means of support for a raiding main (someone remind me to go reserve a hunter named Swissbank). As an herbalist/alchemist, I farm a lot for friends and have been known to chuck the guild bank a few hundred gold from time to time. Maybe I'd save time and money under a system that required me to hand over 2-3% of my income, but still. Being taxed removes an element of individual responsibility, and it certainly takes away the nice feeling you have for voluntarily helping others.

If nothing else the idea's given rise to a few nice jokes (Cacora of Hellscream: "Do I get money back at the end of the year if I claim multiple alts as dependents?"), but the final word may well belong to Grig from Whisperwind: "So, Blizzard is considering taking one of the most universally loathed concepts from real life and adding it to a game. Why, they'd be silly not to do it."

Filed under: Herbalism, Alchemy, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Economy, Making money

Why the IRS won't invade Azeroth

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! ]

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy

Paying Real Taxes for Virtual Items?

All you have to do is visit eBay to see that your virtual acquisitions in Azeroth have real money value.  But if my epic-geared character has a real value (a priest in my guild was recently offered $1000 for his character), does that make it a taxable asset?  The IRS has no definitive answer for this, though as the market for buying and selling virtual goods becomes larger, there's the chance that this could change.  While such real life consequences for a game might seem far-fetched, they're already starting to occur - players in South Korea have been prosecuted for stealing virtual property and Chinese courts have ordered game companies to restore stolen (virtual) goods.  Can the IRS be far behind?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Economy

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