Sold Your MMO Character? Sweden’s Taxman May Want a Cut

If you’re a Swede who has unloaded an unwanted MMO account for a few extra Kronas, the taxman would like a word.

On the other hand, if you’re an American who has sold your account to a Swede, the taxman would still like a word.

GameCulture points out a Stockholm News report detailing efforts by Swedish tax officials to come to grips with e-commerce. To that end, the Skatteverket is even taking a look at small fish like gamers:

The Swedish Tax Agency hold that you have to pay tax for selling an avatar from a computer game. The agency has investigated the trading in avatars during a 14 month period and found the advertised sum of avatars for sale by Swedes to be 662 million SEK. But no one has ever declared any income for trading in avatars to the Tax Agency.

But even U.S. citizens could be subject to Swedish taxation on such virtual transactions, according to the Economics of Virtual Worlds blog:

[Note that] a sale has taken place in Sweden if the seller is a Swedish trader who sells [to]… a private person in Sweden or another EC [European Community] country. A sale from a foreign trader to a Swedish trader has also [legally] taken place in Sweden. The same applies if a trader from outside the EC sells services to Swedish private persons.

Thus, even U.S. citizens are subject to Swedish taxes in virtual worlds, as long as one of the participants is Swedish. The implication is that if similar tax rules are adopted around the globe, U.S. citizens could end up owing taxes to Sweden, Japan, South Korea, and other nations (depending on which and how many worlds they are part of) – all because they played some games…

Skatteverket states that gamers should send invoices to each other. It’s unreasonable stuff they’re talking about. The [game] users [typically] don’t know who they’re interacting with…

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone

32 comments

  1. jedidethfreak says:

    Exactly.  But that was a monarchy, not a socialist government.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  2. Attack_Gypsy says:

    Sure, I’ll pay another country’s taxes, where I have no rights and no representation. Yeah, didn’t we fight a war about that about 233 years ago?

     

     

    Yes, I am a liberal. I also believe in a strong military, less government, and the right to bear arms. ~ Me

    Calling an illegal alien an undocumented worker is like calling a crack dealer an unlicensed pharmacist. ~ Me

  3. Erik says:

    Generally selling your characters is in violation of the EULA and therefore not exactly legal.  To put a tax on such a thing wouldn’t that put Sweden in sort of a position where they are party to such a crime?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  4. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Why not tax the tradeing of money insted of mere sales? We have the system in palce to create such a system. Tax the movement of moeny not property leased from the goverment by paying taxes so you can "own" it, or the wokeres via income tax.

     


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com

  5. jedidethfreak says:

    It happens a lot in America.  After a drug dealer is caught, they gather all the evidence of prior sales they can.  The IRS then takes them for tax evasion, based on the amount of sales the evidence eluded to.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  6. Ryno says:

    You’re right, it’s even easier to identify drug dealers; it is just as hard to tax their sales.

     

    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  7. GoodRobotUs says:

    As I said, many, not all 🙂

    Some games do allow it, whereas others, such as Eve Online and Wow come down like a tonne of bricks on it.

  8. GoodRobotUs says:

    Heh, if Sweden can apply it’s taxes to other countries, how long do you think it will be until other countries start thinking ‘Well, then our tax-laws apply to you.’

  9. Biffbiffley says:

    Just because it’s not supposed to be happenign doesn’t mean it is.

     

    And Everquest has an official auction site doesn’t it?

  10. Chuma says:

    I thought the same.  In fact I wonder if the Swedish tax man isnt leaving himself open to a hell of a lawsuit.

  11. GoodRobotUs says:

    Many do state that it is not allowed, indeed, many will kick players that are found to be doing so.

    I wonder if many of these Tax experts actually realise this? The vast amount of cash for goods transactions taking place in MMO’s, most notably things like Gold Farming etc, are actually not even supposed to be happening in the first place and the companies involved are actively trying to stop it.

    It doesn’t help companies trying to discourage this sort of behaviour, with Sweden actually taking steps towards making it sound legitimate by making it taxable (And I have no idea how they actually plan to enforce this tax).

  12. Biffbiffley says:

    Hey if Austraila can censor the internet this should be no problem at all!

     

    (yes this is sarcasm.  Just in case you didn’t realize)

  13. GoodRobotUs says:

    Hehehe, seriously though, how are they going to monitor online transactions? Whilst some of these transactions take place through companies, I think a vast majority of them are private sales, and these often take place in-game via things like Pay-Pal. You’d have to monitor the bank accounts of every person in game, and compare them with chat logs to even start to piece together evidence that a sale had taken place, that’s an awful lot of privacy invasion for a little bit of tax…

     

  14. Ryno says:

    It’s a lot like saying you’re going to tax drug dealers for their sales.

     

    Saying that Jack Thompson is impotent is an insult to impotent men everywhere. They’ve got a whole assortment of drugs that can cure their condition; Jack, however…

  15. Neeneko says:

    More like ‘unenforced’, not tax free.

    In the US, sales between individuals are indeed taxable, but the IRS generally does not pay attention unless the amount is over 10k.

  16. David says:

    Therein lies the problem.  If the seller is in the United States, and the buyer is in another country, then it is difficult to determine exactly where the transaction has actually taken place.  If a Swede came to the United States and purchased a quantity of product from a retailer for sale in Sweden (the name for this process escapes me), then you certainly wouldn’t expect the Swedish government to make a claim to some portion of the proceeds in that transaction.

  17. Zero Beat says:

    Now granted this fine grained consumer<->consumer taxation is a little tricky.

     

    And that’s why I say this is idiotic.  In most countries, sales between two private individuals are tax-free.

     

    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  18. Arell says:

    While I don’t really have an opinion as to whether they should or shouldn’t tax online sale of virtual goods, I have to agree that this is almost unenforceable.  The government only knows about sales because someone declares the income in some way.  Who’s going to say on their tax forms that they bought/sold an avatar?  What MMO company is going to give away that private information without losing precious customers?

  19. Vordus says:

    Whilst I can understand the desire to tax virtual goods, I think that this approach is somewhat borked.

     

     

    Bork bork borked!

  20. Neeneko says:

    Idiotic?

    It is called a tariff or import, and we have been doing them for a long, long time.  In fact there was a time that all US taxes came from tariffs rather then income/sales tax.

    Generally yes, if you sell good in other countries you do have to obey their tax codes.   When, say, VW sells cars in the US they do not get a magic ‘but we are based in Germany!’ exemption.

    Now granted this fine grained consumer<->consumer taxation is a little tricky.

  21. Zero Beat says:

    This is one of the most idiotic tax rules ever conceived.  I have no idea who came up with this, but they shouldn’t be writing laws for anyone anywhere.

     

    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  22. jedidethfreak says:

    I have a problem with this, because it’s made to sound as though ANY Swedish national ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD could buy a character from ANYONE and the seller would have to pay taxes in Sweden.  So, let’s say the Swedish Ambasador to the US buys a WoW character from a US national who lives in NY.  Is that still a Swedish transaction, even though every piece of equipment is on US soil (save, maybe, the Ambassador’s computer, which I’m assuming is in the Embassy)? 

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  23. sirdarkat says:

    Hey Sweeden Good luck with taxing me cause you know as a US Citizen I really am going to pay that tax.  Yep seriously I will pay it (it might take you 10,000 years and hunting down my children’s children but Im sure you can get it eventually).

     

Comments are closed.