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Harvard Scholar Urges Immediate Taxation of Metaverse

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • The Metaverse's digital activity tracking offers governments a unique chance to modernize tax systems.
  • The US gov't should test Metaverse income against the Haig-Simons income theory, arguing all income, should be taxed.
  • The IRS has queried about taxing NFTs as "collectibles", potentially subjecting investors to a higher tax rate.
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A Harvard University scholar contends that the government should promptly impose taxes on income earned in the Metaverse, potentially benefiting government revenue. 

Christine Kim declares that not taxing the Metaverse will lead to the formation of “a tax haven.”

Metaverse Taxation Offers Unique Opportunity For Governments

A recently published research paper by legal professor Christine Kim emphasizes that governments should instantly impose taxes on Metaverse income, prioritizing it over other income sources. However, Metaverse income is frequently received in cryptocurrency, which only intensifies the ongoing taxation debate.

Recent data indicates that spending in the Metaverse has surpassed $120 billion. Further research predicts it will reach a global market value of $800 billion by 2024.

Kim argues that the instant payments individuals earn in the Metaverse, whether through real estate transactions, gaming, or event organization, can provide advantages in terms of boosting a country’s revenue liquidity.

“The Metaverse’s ability to record all digital activity and track individual wealth can offer governments a unique opportunity to tax income immediately upon receipt,” Kim notes, expressing that the Metaverse offers governments the opportunity to “modernize the tax system.”

“Immediate taxation, such as a mark-to-market system, would be a more efficient and fairer approach so long as it could overcome intrinsic valuation and liquidity problems.”

According to CoinMarketCap, Internet Computer (ICP) is the largest Metaverse token by market capitalization ($1.45B). At the time of publication, its current price is $3.28.

Internet Computer (ICP) Price Chart 1 Month. Source: BeInCrypto
Internet Computer (ICP) Price Chart 1 Month. Source: BeInCrypto

US Authorities Crypto Tax Developments

Kim points out that the United States government mainly relies on taxation for its annual revenue. According to the US Department of Treasury, the US collected $4.90 trillion in tax revenue, mainly from individual income taxes.

She further argues that income earned in the Metaverse should be subject to the Haig-Simons income theory. This theory means that all income, regardless of its source, should be under tax jurisdiction:

“Gains or increases in wealth over a particular period regardless of whether spent on consumption or saved.”

To learn more about crypto tax, read BeInCrypto’s guide: The Ultimate US Crypto Tax Guide for 2023

On August 25, the US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations for the sale and exchange of digital assets by brokers. The regulations were made to crack down on those avoiding taxes and adhering brokers to more reporting requirements, similar to other securities and financial investments.

The proposed rules are open to public comment until October 30.

On March 21, the IRS asked the public for input on how to tax non-fungible tokens (NFTs). They specifically sought to determine whether NFTs should be categorized as “collectibles.” This would potentially subject long-term investors to a higher tax rate of 28% compared to the standard 20%.

The consultation period finished in June, however, and there have been no further announcements on the matter.

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Ciaran Lyons
Ciaran is a cryptocurrency journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He particularly enjoys writing about CBDC developments and the practical implementations of cryptocurrency in real-world scenarios. He has also appeared across major television networks in Australia including Channel Ten, Channel Nine and SBS TV. Prior to his foray into cryptocurrency, Ciaran worked as a presenter on national radio station Triple J.
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