Personal tax on worldwide professional income is usually governed by the law of the place the work is done.
This means that individuals are liable to personal income tax in the state where they physically work, whether this is their state of residence or another country. This is called the ‘territoriality’ principle. Double taxation can arise due a conflict between this territoriality principle and taxation on worldwide income in the state of residence. Tax treaties and agreements between countries can help to alleviate double taxation.
Does this mean we should be worried about taxation in the metaverse, this new, fully immersive and interconnected virtual world that allows users in their capacity as workers to engage in professional activity?
Taxes on individual, professional income will probably not be the first type of income tax impacted by any new tax laws and regulations specific to the metaverse.
Indeed, workers will probably remain taxable where they physical sit or stand, since the metaverse can still be seen as a way of working remotely, albeit using enhanced technology.
The authorities are likely to focus, at least at first, on taxing transactions relating to the sale of virtual goods or services. There will be many challenges in implementing such a system, including issues of jurisdiction, enforcement and privacy.
Working in the metaverse is a trend that is likely to reinforce remote working by employees, which will have consequences for personal and corporate tax. It remains to be seen how the metaverse will evolve and how it will impact our daily work in the future.