Bill Gates talks about a robot tax

Author: Adam Button | Category: News

Bill Gates makes some pretty good points here

A main problem is that income tax is the single most-effective government invention. It's almost impossible to avoid. It's taken away by the government before workers even get it. If they're owed money, they have to petition the tax authorities to get it back after year end.

Contrast that with corporate taxes. The money is accumulated in the company first and it can be hidden and shuffled and offset or offshored to keep it away from the government.

That gets to the crux of the automation problem. If the taxes balanced out, it would be no net difference for the government. The money would come from corporate profit taxes.

But even if it did net out, you could make the argument that the robot should be taxed at a much higher rate. First, you now have to support or retrain the worker when he used to support himself. That's a major disruption.

Second, money paid to the worker would circulate much well. He or she is likely to spend it and it would get taxed again as sales tax or profits elsewhere. Corporate profit, meanwhile, tends to centralize.

Ultimately, automation is the most incredible opportunity for mankind. It has the potential to drastically cut the work week. Eventually we'll inevitably get there. Whether it's ugly and messy or smooth and peaceful depends on how leaders plan.

One thing is for sure, the current tax system isn't ready for it.