The idea of a 'robot tax' is gaining steam as a way of dealing with automation that's killing jobs

markets.businessinsider.com | 1/9/2020 | Staff
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The idea of taxing robots has gained steam in recent years as a possible way of curbing the spread of automation and better protecting American workers.

A decent chunk of jobs are at risk of being automated in the US.

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Bill Gates called for the tax in 2017 and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a plan for it during his short 2020 presidential run.

But a so-called "robot tax" faces significant hurdles in design and implementation.

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"Tax the rich" is now a common refrain in American politics. But could "tax the robots" ever become popular as well?

Idea - Tax - Steam - Years - Barrage

The idea of a so-called "robot tax" has gained steam in recent years, particularly after a barrage of studies that suggested automation threatens the future of a substantial chunk of jobs in the United States. The risk is especially pronounced within manufacturing, and increasingly those in white-collar positions.

One estimate from researchers at the Brookings Institution found that one in four US jobs are at high risk of being automated.

Bill - Gates - Tax - New - York

Bill Gates famously called for the tax back in 2017. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also laid out the framework for a type of robot taxation during his brief presidential run, calling for companies to pay five years' of payroll taxes for every job automated.

Both believed a robot tax could curb the spread of automation and add a layer of protection for American workers.

Mazur - Tax - Law - Professor - Southern

Orly Mazur, a tax law professor at Southern Methodist University who has researched the robot tax, says it could be used to stymie automation, though only temporarily.

"I believe an appropriately designed robot tax can hinder the progress of the development of automation that kills jobs," Mazur told Business Insider in an email, though noting she believes it's the wrong approach to deal with automation.

Such a...
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