Taxing Robots as Employees

Categories: economy, governance

What? A May 2016 draft motion by the European Union Parliament's committee on legal affairs proposes classifying Europe's worker robots as "electronic persons", and taxing the robot owners for worker-related social security payments. The motion proposes that the robot tax would be equivalent to the savings a company makes in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people. The EU committee's draft motion also suggests that "electronic persons" gain certain rights and obligations, without specifying their nature.

So what? The committee's motion addresses the rising concern over robot-related human job losses and the subsequent viability of employee-based social security systems. The proposed motion would increase the cost of using robots, and thus could slow their uptake in European industries. This might not be the case in situations in which the robots perform functions humans cannot. However, by considering new taxes, such as this robot tax, and income solutions to secure a decent living for humans, promoting the use of robots could be economically and socially beneficial.


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