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The One Ring, forged in the fires of Mount Doom, will likely be taxed at 49%

If the ring bearer resides in Canada, then the Canadian government could win big

frodo holds the one ring over mt doom Image: New Line Cinema
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The One Ring, a singular, serialized card for Magic: The Gathering’s The Lord of the Rings-themed set has been found, but little is known about the circumstances of its discovery. The only thing that is certain about the card is that someone, somewhere wants to buy it. And that, my friends, can mean only one thing: The tax man cometh.

Early reporting seems to show that the owner of The One Ring card, who wishes to remain anonymous, is currently in Ontario Canada and has secured the services of an attorney. And that’s a great first step, representatives from Ontario Tax Services and Argyle Tax Service told Polygon by telephone, because they now need to establish the provenance of the card.

If the card was purchased at a store as part of a blind pack of cards, which in all likelihood it was, then the sale of that card will likely be considered a capital gain. The same Canadian tax laws apply regardless of whether or not the card came from the purchase of a single pack (roughly $12.99) or a box of packs (which crested $518 at launch on June 23). Once sold, Canada’s progressive rate then goes into effect, making 50% of the sale taxable at 49%.

If our lucky ring bearer cashes out for $2 million — currently the highest bid, coming from Spain — they will owe roughly $490,000, according to the tax professionals we spoke with.

So what if the bearer of The One Ring simply found the card — say, at the bottom of a stream, or on a shallow lake bed while fishing with a family member? Well, then the full amount of the transaction would be taxable. A sale at $2 million, in this scenario, would net the Canadian government $980,000.

But what if the bearer was given The Ring by a family member — say, a distant uncle on the eve of his one-hundred-eleventh birthday celebration? In that case, one tax professional said, the sale could be transacted entirely tax free.

So, I guess the old adage really does prove out: Keep it secret. Keep it safe. And keep it around for a few generations if you want to avoid paying taxes on it in Canada.

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