‘The rise of the meta-verse also raises several tax issues’ – Taxes

‘Federal Public Service Finance may well be progressive, and virtual offices will certainly have their place in government as well. But at the same time, the service must show the same progressiveness towards taxpayers and provide legal certainty for the fascinating tax discussions that will arise. ‘ So says Michel Maus, lawyer and professor of tax law.

The Federal Public Service Finance website recently reported that from now on, taxpayers will also be received by virtual officials. This is a three-month pilot project in the information centers in Antwerp and Liège. Officials will talk to taxpayers in the form of a hologram. A hologram is a three-dimensional image or video of an object or person. If you’ve seen the first Star Wars movie from 1977, you may remember the magic scene where Princess Leia is projected as a hologram by the robot R2D2 and with the epic words “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope“, the rebels are asking for help. Whether Princess Leia was the inspiration for the financial sector is doubtful, the fact is that with this project, the federal public service is taking a step into the metaverse, the virtual world considered the successor to the internet.

The project fits in with the Ministry of Finance’s ambitions to merge digitization with some taxpayers’ preference for ‘physical’ contacts. If the test is successful, according to the press release, the taxpayers will no longer have to come to the offices of the federal public service. Finally, the press release states that the hologram can in principle also be projected at the taxpayer’s home or office, so that the tax authorities become “even more easily accessible”.

The emergence of the meta-verse also raises several tax issues.

In itself, it is a good thing that Finans is anticipating technological developments. It is expected that within a few years we will communicate and interact with each other both privately and professionally via avatars in the metaverse, and that we will buy products in 3D webshops galore. The fact that the tax authorities are already taking the step towards virtual government can best be called foresight and should be encouraged. The question, however, is whether taxpayers also see this and what their reaction will be if confronted with a virtual version of their tax official.

The emergence of the metaverse also raises several tax issues, which currently remain unanswered. The Ministry of Finance must anticipate this and provide legal certainty with circular letters. If not, as with the advent of cryptocurrencies, there is a risk of a battle with the ruling service that will ultimately only benefit the tax consultants. For example, there is the question of the depreciation capability of virtual land. If a company wants to build a 3D office, showroom or exhibition space in the metaverse, virtual land must first be purchased. Physical land is not depreciable, but what about virtual land? The same goes for the creation of virtual buildings. In the real world, buildings should be depreciated over at least twenty years, but what about virtual buildings? And what if a company has set up a 3D store in, say, Threedee World or Decentraland, where is that store located? Is it the country where the company is located, or is it the country where Threedee World or Decentraland is located, or even the country where the servers running these 3D worlds are located?

Federal Public Service Finance may well be progressive, and virtual offices will certainly have their place in government as well. But at the same time, the service must show the same progressiveness towards taxpayers and provide legal certainty for the fascinating tax discussions that will arise. It is high time to pay attention to it.

The Federal Public Service Finance website recently reported that from now on, taxpayers will also be received by virtual officials. This is a three-month pilot project in the information centers in Antwerp and Liège. Officials will talk to taxpayers in the form of a hologram. A hologram is a three-dimensional image or video of an object or person. If you’ve seen the first Star Wars movie from 1977, you may remember the magical scene where Princess Leia is projected as a hologram by the robot R2D2 and with the epic words “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope It’s doubtful whether Princess Leia was the inspiration for Finans, but the fact is that with this project, the federal public service is taking a step into the metaverse, the virtual world considered the successor to the Internet. fits in with the economy’s ambitions in digitalisation with some taxpayers’ preference for ‘physical’ contacts. with the taxpayer or office so that the tax authorities become “even more easily accessible.” It is expected that within a few years we will communicate and intera with each other both privately and professionally via avatars in the metaverse, and that we will buy products in 3D webshops galore. The fact that the tax authorities are already taking the step towards virtual government can best be called foresight and should be encouraged. The question, however, is whether taxpayers see it that way and what their reaction will be if confronted with a virtual version of their tax official. The rise of the metaverse also raises numerous tax questions that are currently unanswered. The Ministry of Finance must anticipate this and provide legal certainty with circular letters. If not, as with the advent of cryptocurrencies, there is a risk of a battle with the ruling service that will ultimately only benefit the tax consultants. For example, there is the question of the depreciation capability of virtual land. If a company wants to build a 3D office, showroom or exhibition space in the metaverse, virtual land must first be purchased. Physical land is not depreciable, but what about virtual land? The same goes for the creation of virtual buildings. In the real world, buildings have to be depreciated over at least twenty years, but what about virtual buildings? And what if a company has set up a 3D store in, say, Threedee World or Decentraland, where is that store located? Is it the country where the company is located, or is it the country where Threedee World or Decentraland is located, or even the country where the servers running these 3D worlds are located? Federal Public Service Finance may well be progressive, and virtual offices will certainly have their place in government as well. But at the same time, the service must show the same progressiveness towards taxpayers and provide legal certainty for the fascinating tax discussions that will arise. It is high time to pay attention to that.

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