VIDEO: Automation Taxes Should Focus on Workers, Not Robots

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By Laura Davison

The new tax law could speed up factories’ use of robots, rather than human workers, to manufacture goods.

The law, which allows for 100 percent expensing of new and used equipment for five years, likely means factories will increasingly replace workers with automation. That prospect has spurred some thinkers, including Bill Gates, to suggest a tax on robots that take jobs away from humans.


That would be a simplistic response to a complex problem, said Robert Kovacev, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. The tax would ultimately be borne by the people who buy the products those robots make, he said.

“Robots don’t have money. They don’t earn wages,” Kovacev said. “It’s consumers that lose. It’s consumers who pay the robot tax.”

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