I am, therefore I must pay taxes

Dickinson Law Firm Des Moines, IA David Repp Iowa Taxation Law

Posted on 02/21/2017 at 12:00 AM by David Repp

There exist two reasons why some people have difficulty finding a job despite an unemployment rate at 5 percent or below for the last year or longer. The first is that with a global economy, some jobs leave the United States as businesses set up shop in low-wage countries. The second is that technology and automation eliminate jobs. To illustrate, Henry Ford’s implementation of the assembly line to mass produce cars at the beginning of the 20th Century really upset all the workers in the buggy whip industry. But 100 years ago, there were so many other things that needed to be made, and our population was growing at an exponential rate.

Despite the low unemployment data, there are some people today who continue to fear a loss of jobs due to continuing automation.  Sixty-three million of them voted for Donald Trump last year. Of course, who can blame them after watching this Boston Dynamics video of Atlas the robot. 

So if Rosie, the Robot Maid from the Jetsons cartoon, will soon be replacing all domestic labor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator robot will be replacing all truck drivers, what happens to all the displaced workers if they cannot find other jobs? And loss of jobs means loss of tax revenue to our government because robots work for free. Some suggest that we will need some sort of universal income from the Federal government to replace lost wages from lost jobs. How would universal income be paid from shrinking government revenues caused by job losses?

The answer? Tax the robots. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has suggested that a tax on robots may slow innovation which is what he thinks we may need now. “It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm,” he said.  “That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do. And, you know, taxation is certainly a better way to handle it than just banning some elements of it. "Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things," he said. "If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you'd think that we'd tax the robot at a similar level." The extra money should be used to retrain people the robots have replaced, Mr. Gates said, with "communities where this has a particularly big impact" first in line for support.

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.

Categories: Taxation Law, David Repp


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