thank you blizzard for inviting the IRS into my gaming habits.
You have no idea how close to reality this statement could potentially become.
Years ago there was an article from some accountant/tax attorney/tax auditor/someone knowledgeable on US tax law (I'm pretty sure the article was from '06ish, so I don't remember specifics).
The article was about taxation of virtual property and currency and why the industry hasn't attempted to go after RMT. Basically, what it all boiled down to was how in-game items and currency were classified. In order to prosecute, they would have to be reclassified and a real world monetary value would have to be given to them in order to prosecute. The problem with doing this is that the reclassification and the addition of a set monetary value would open everything up to taxation by the IRS, regardless if you sold it for real world money or not. Every time you got a piece of new gear you could potentially have to pay taxes on it.
Second life has managed to stay just below the IRS's radar for years, but the RMT and transfer of real world items for virtual currency has been brought up a few times. Second Life also taxes transactions when currency goes from one form to the other.
EVE and PLEX (The gamecards idig was talking about) have managed to stay off the radar for the most part, but the big scandal a few years ago did bring attention to the way their economy is setup and how it has real world influence.
Second Life and EVE aren't based in the US which could have something to do with the IRS keeping their hands out of US based players pockets. Unfortunately, Blizzard is in the US.
Here's an article I found, but not the one I was talking about. http://yalelawjournal.org/the-yale-law-journal-pocket-part/legislation/why-the-irs-has-not-taxed-income-from-virtual-world-transactions-.-.-.-yet/
My issue at this point is that WoW and the associated RMT is specifically referenced in several of the more recent articles, a reference that could easily shift to Diablo 3 once this gets out. A lot of it is going to depend on how Blizzard reports these transactions. If this takes off and Blizzard turns this into a cash cow, the IRS is going to want their cut, and there's a good chance that the reclassification required to do that could extend to virtual items and currency as a whole, and not those just being sold for real world goods and services.