Author Topic: Should robots pay income tax?  (Read 527 times)

Davin

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2017, 09:56:47 AM »
I think it's a step towards robots being treated as people. Taxation without representation and all that. And I think that should wait until the machines are actually sentient.
Hmm, the "taxation without representation" bit would surely only apply if the robots themselves were paid a salary? As is robots are non-sentient "mechanical slave labour" with no need of rights. Their care and maitenance is purely an economic need on the part of their owners.
I'm not worried about the dumb machines trying to utilize their rights, I'm concerned about corps acting like their machines have rights because they are getting taxed like people would. In the US, corporations have many of the same rights as people do. Maybe I'm too much of a pessimist, but I can see a path from that, to corps allowing robots to be treated by the law as people in other affairs.

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Recusant

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2017, 10:10:52 AM »
I've read up on the proposal by Benoît Hamon, and it's not so much a tax on robots as it is a tax on corporations that use robots. I think the idea is that by using robots, the corporations avoid paying their portion of the worker's income tax, and therefore don't contribute as much to social welfare programs run by the government. His website is in French and despite some improvement in the past few years, my French isn't up to translating it, but I found a translation of the idea on Motherboard:

Quote
When a worker is replaced by a machine, the wealth created benefits the shareholders. I propose, therefore, to tax this wealth—by applying the social contributions on the whole of the added value and not just on the work.

It seems to me that he's saying, OK, go ahead and use robots, but you will still pay the taxes you would have paid if you were employing workers.

In the Motherboard article I also read about a proposal by the EU to tax robots as "electronic persons." This is closer to what Davin said, and he has a good point regarding what might lie along that road. In the US, the Supreme Court has said that corporations--that have been considered "persons" under the law for some time--have rights, including religious rights. If robots are ever considered "persons" under the law, then it would seem inevitable that they would also have rights. (I see that while I was typing this the conversation has covered some of this ground, but I'll leave it in anyway.)

Anyway, increasing automation and the resulting decline in employment opportunities for human beings will have to be addressed sooner or later. In light of that, I think that Hamon's idea isn't completely outlandish.

Another article I came across: "Why A French Socialist’s Case for Taxing Robots Is Better Than Bill Gates’ Idea" | In These Times

Quote
Now that he won’t be labor secretary, Andy Puzder will be free to keep running his fast food empire the way he likes: with low wages, rampant wage theft and sky-high rates of sexual harassment. Because humans do pesky things like complain and demand decent hours and collective bargaining rights, Puzder has toyed with the idea of replacing them with robots. As he’s put it, machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Bill Gates and French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon would appear to have similar ideas for how to curb the impact of the kind of profit-hungry automation Puzder dreams of: Tax the bejeezus out of companies that use robots. But like other proposals with support from opposite sides of the political spectrum—like the idea of a universal basic income—the devil is in the details.

[Continues . . .]
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Gloucester

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2017, 10:29:29 AM »
I think it's a step towards robots being treated as people. Taxation without representation and all that. And I think that should wait until the machines are actually sentient.
Hmm, the "taxation without representation" bit would surely only apply if the robots themselves were paid a salary? As is robots are non-sentient "mechanical slave labour" with no need of rights. Their care and maitenance is purely an economic need on the part of their owners.
I'm not worried about the dumb machines trying to utilize their rights, I'm concerned about corps acting like their machines have rights because they are getting taxed like people would. In the US, corporations have many of the same rights as people do. Maybe I'm too much of a pessimist, but I can see a path from that, to corps allowing robots to be treated by the law as people in other affairs.

I have to pay a car tax but my car has no rights! Only a small fraction of it actually pays for new road building.
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Tank

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2017, 10:43:08 AM »
I've been turning this over in my head, and while I don't have an actual answer I don't believe taxing will work, at least in this manner. The company will simply come up with ways to make the robots more productive so they have less of them per profit (the entire point of robots to start), continuing to increase their output without paying in as much. At best it would delay the slide to full automation and stabilize things a bit while the profit margins are still lower per robot.
I agree. A company is legally responsible to its shareholders not its employees or customers so they will always strive to increase profits. But if companies don't pay income tax via their employees and all work is done by robots the companies will have to pay more tax to make up the difference. And if there is a standing 35% unemployment rate the social security costs must be met from somewhere.

I too do not have the answer. I'm not sure we are even prepared to ask the right questions.
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Tank

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2017, 10:49:00 AM »
I've been turning this over in my head, and while I don't have an actual answer I don't believe taxing will work, at least in this manner. The company will simply come up with ways to make the robots more productive so they have less of them per profit (the entire point of robots to start), continuing to increase their output without paying in as much. At best it would delay the slide to full automation and stabilize things a bit while the profit margins are still lower per robot.

And I can't see the Reps putting up company property and profit taxes if that happens.

Then we may end up with two fiscally separate populations. Those out of conventional work may become a totally independent bater based society. Farmers who do not use robotic planters/pickers would be at the base providing food. The absolute irony here would be the most efficient robotised farms would have the lowest cost produce but would sell it to the large customers who would then sell it at vast profits to the 65% of people who are employed. But the human farms would sell direct to the unemployable underclass.
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Tank

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2017, 10:55:28 AM »
...

It seems to me that he's saying, OK, go ahead and use robots, but you will still pay the taxes you would have paid if you were employing workers.

...

I took a bit of artistic licence in the tread title  :smokin cool:
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Gloucester

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2017, 11:20:44 AM »
According to the latest figures we have an increase in the UK in what is becoming the human "employed underclass", the number of zero hours contract employees. And that is not the only scheme that allows employers to pay less or dodge taxes, paid sickness, holidays etc.

Not sure what impact that has on the tax income but any further dip from robot use can only make it worse when all the bills for health etc are climbing.

Some of that health, and benefits, cost is already due to un- and under- employment.
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Davin

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2017, 11:31:38 AM »
I have to pay a car tax but my car has no rights! Only a small fraction of it actually pays for new road building.
That's not what the thing said though. It said it was like an income tax on the robots. An equivalent in your example would be a robot tax for owning a robot. However an income tax not merely a tax on owning a robot, it would be a tax on the income generated by the robot. They are very different kinds of taxes.

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Gloucester

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2017, 11:48:02 AM »
I have to pay a car tax but my car has no rights! Only a small fraction of it actually pays for new road building.
That's not what the thing said though. It said it was like an income tax on the robots. An equivalent in your example would be a robot tax for owning a robot. However an income tax not merely a tax on owning a robot, it would be a tax on the income generated by the robot. They are very different kinds of taxes.

Ah, you are being pedantic on the specific wording of the thread title!  I both ownng and employing a car rather than a couple of sedan chair carriers or a taxi or a bus driver or . . . Just like I would do if I owned and employed robots instead of people!

;)
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Davin

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2017, 11:59:47 AM »
I have to pay a car tax but my car has no rights! Only a small fraction of it actually pays for new road building.
That's not what the thing said though. It said it was like an income tax on the robots. An equivalent in your example would be a robot tax for owning a robot. However an income tax not merely a tax on owning a robot, it would be a tax on the income generated by the robot. They are very different kinds of taxes.

Ah, you are being pedantic on the specific wording of the thread title!  I both ownng and employing a car rather than a couple of sedan chair carriers or a taxi or a bus driver or . . . Just like I would do if I owned and employed robots instead of people!

;)
I don't think that pedantic applies here, I'm being excessively concerned nor do I think that differentiating between two different kinds of taxes is that minor of a detail.

So if you had one of them new driverless cars as a Taxi, you'd pay a tax for the car itself, then you'd pay a tax on the car driving people about as if a person were driving people around. If you paid 0.13$ per dollar made in income taxes for a real driver, then you'd pay that much in taxes for the car. The car itself would not make any money, nor would the car itself pay the taxes. You would make the money and pay the taxes.

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Gloucester

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2017, 05:02:49 AM »
I knew that Amazon used robots in their warehouses, and assumed they did at least some of the picking.

Just heard that the humans still do the "picking" but not by walking or driving round the stacks. Seems the robots bring the actual stacks to the humans to take the items off - cuts out the trudge.

« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 05:18:11 AM by Gloucester »
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Gloucester

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2017, 05:15:50 AM »
Still robotics, but this tine getting rid of the delivery driver. Amazon's proposed delivery system using drones expanded.



However, they might have to ask if the customer had a convenient "delivery area" nearby. Not a lot of room where I live, even for high tech lamp-posts, and I would not fancy going to a local park if it was cold or raining. However, may be great for urgent deliveries to companies etc, they could use their carpark, the roof, build a platform or something.

Thst's if they ever get permits to use them at all.
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2017, 12:59:20 PM »
Let's replace the politicians with robots, and tax their income. Two birds, one stone.

I second this motion!
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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2017, 07:58:29 AM »
I heard one way to deal with the job loss to robots is to have universal income for every citizen and get rid of welfare to pay for it. $1000 to each person and that pays for housing and food in most places. For me, I could have way more money to pay for food and pay off my bills much faster. I wouldn't be living on easy Street but I'd be able to live better.
But, uh...well there it is.

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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Should robots pay income tax?
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2017, 01:52:00 PM »
I definitely think they should pay income tax, many countries' populations are getting older and there just aren't enough being born to fill their places and support the retired. Having companies which utilize robots pay income taxes could lessen the need for productive immigrants from poorer countries. I doubt such companies would like this but there could be other benefits in other areas that might make robotisation enticing.

They'd effectively be the slaves of the near future. Will they ever have rights if they become sentient? Perhaps, but until then they're something to be exploited. Heck, entire empires were built on the back of slave labour, maybe history will repeat itself in a different hue.

The major problem I see with this is, in third world countries labour is unskilled and unproductive, it would widen the gap between countries which invest in robots, automation and education and those that do not. Robots are preferable to the mass of unskilled and under-educated labourers but they would leave millions without jobs.       

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