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Author's Note: Can the IRS tax virtual money?
The controversy over Bitcoin seems a little irrelevant to the lives of most Americans. What's the likelihood that any of us are going to be buying our groceries or paying our rent with bitcoins anytime soon? What's more interesting is that most of us earn and spend real money as if it's a virtual currency. When was the last time you were paid in cash for doing a job? And how often do you pay with actual dollar bills in a store? Most people I know are paid through direct deposit --or at least a check -- and just about every store and service accepts credit cards. And then there's online shopping; Americans will spend more than $260 billion through Web retailers in 2013, 13 percent higher than 2012. Every day, billions of dollars changes hands in America, but almost all of it is electronic -- 1s and 0s zipping from one virtual bank account to another. How much of a difference is there, really, between a "virtual" dollar and an ingot of "World of Warcraft" gold?
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