International Association
Virtual Organizations
Mission: Virtual Advisory Council

The idea of the "virtual organization" builds upon concepts of telecommuting introduced more than two decades ago. Essentially, a virtual organization is any business, club, society, institution, governing body, or other similar entity whose existence is dependent -- either partially or entirely -- on the evolving telecommunication technologies associated with the Internet, cable systems, phone systems, and others. The virtual idea is built upon the reality that organizations no longer necessarily need to have centralized facilities for performing a majority of their functions. In turn, members of the organization, employees for instance, are less restricted by geography; they may locate practically anywhere in the world and still support the organization effectively.

(A virtual organization does NOT mean it’s a sham or really doesn’t exist. Instead, “virtual” implies decentralization.)

Certainly at this point virtual is not a new idea, but the fact that technology makes telecommuting an efficient reality remains continuingly compelling. With a true virtual organization, however, complexities quickly emerge which challenge legal, trade, community, taxation, and a wealth of other issues. For instance, separate from technology (which by itself is a greatly intriguing component of any virtual organization), what interstate or international rules and regulations apply to the employees of a company who live in diverse areas of the globe (and work from home, etc.), but work for a company doing business in one particular state? What are the human resource requirements? What are the taxation and licensing guidelines? What constitutes property rights? How is liability defined? What are the costs, and how can costs be lowered?

The list of questions and conditions becomes quite long; unfortunately for the companies and institutions creating these virtual organizations, the questions are often difficult to answer. Many times there are no answers as of yet because adequate policies do not exist. This is particularly true from property tax and local business license perspectives. The Virtual Advisory Council, therefore, was formed to help coordinate policy development relative to the endless lists of government oversight and regulation of these virtual domain structures. As such, the council works with local, state, and national governments to ensure policy in this regard is developed smartly and with full understanding of the wealth of issues for consideration.


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