Why Bill Gates Thinks Robots Should Pay Taxes

It’s no secret that the robot revolution is coming. According to Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, where telemarketing, accounting and retail jobs are likely to be the first to be automated.

Once these jobs are taken over by robots, one of the biggest questions which arises is what happens to the income tax that used to come from the human employee? Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates thinks the answer is simple: Tax the robots.

In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates explained that if, for example, a human worker does $50,000 worth of work, that income is taxed. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” Gates said in the video.

Gates explained that taxing these robots will enable them to make all the goods and services while freeing up labour to take on tasks that require human empathy, such as teaching and caring for the elderly. So, if a factory worker is replaced by a robot, these employees could potentially be retrained to fill one of the fulfilling roles that requires human understanding.

While technology has been replacing humans for years already in the form of self-serving checkouts, ATM machines and automated phone operators, Bill Gates believes that robot companies will not be outraged that there ‘might be a tax’.

Gates isn’t the only one proposing such a tax, as European lawmakers recommended a robot tax in a draft report written up by the European parliament back in May 2016. The draft urges the legislature to consider the implications of AI and robotics.

While it’s too early to determine whether or not robots will be taxed, it does open up a lot of questions. If a robot was 100X more efficient at performing a task than a human, would it mean the robot would be taxed at a rate 100X higher?

Let us know what you think!