Sunday, August 27, 2017
Following up on last week's post, Oei, Hemel On 'Robot Taxes': MIT Technology Review, San Francisco Will Consider a Tax on Robots:
When robots steal our jobs, should they be made to pay taxes? That’s something residents of San Francisco are being asked to think about by Jane Kim, who represents the city's District 6 on its board of supervisors. She wants to find cash to help folks out with retraining or a universal basic income when robots take over their toils, and the suggestion for generating that money is a tax on robots.
In reality, it’s not clear what the best way to impose taxes on automation is. Earlier this year, the Economist weighed what such a thing might look like. Taxing capital investment in robots or the increased profits as a result of their installation, the two obvious ways to go about it, don’t seem to be a perfect solution, according to the magazine’s analysis.
There are other ways to tackle the problem that don’t focus on the machines, though: reducing tax on human labor, perhaps, or aggressively taxing the world’s most successful firms that make best use of automation. But it’s still unclear which would work best.