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Without 'robot tax' there will be global economic disruption, University of Surrey lawyers warn

08/03/2018 News Team

Without the creation of a “robot tax” there will be global economic disruption at a scale never seen in modern history, according to lawyers from the University of Surrey.

In a paper soon to be published by the Harvard Law and Policy Review Journal, Surrey lawyers argue that current tax policies incentivise automation by allowing companies to avoid wage taxes that are collected by the government. This encourages companies to automate, which will reduce tax revenues and ultimately reduce the number of people gaining employment.

The authors believe the system should be changed so that taxes are neutral between robot and human workers, which provide several mechanisms for achieving tax neutrality, including an “automation tax”.  

Professor Ryan Abbott, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey, said: “Robots can be a force for good—they have been integral to key scientific breakthroughs and they have helped us become more efficient in our work and our personal lives. However, as things stand, automation presents a clear and present danger to many jobs and tax revenues.

“We believe a more neutral tax system will solve the imbalance that we currently face, and the revenue raised could be used to retrain those rendered technologically unemployed.”

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