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Should Robots be Taxed?

Author

Listed:
  • Joao Guerreiro
  • Sergio Rebelo
  • Pedro Teles

Abstract

We use a model of automation to show that with the current U.S. tax system, a fall in automation costs could lead to a massive rise in income inequality. This inequality can be reduced by making the current income-tax system more progressive and by taxing robots. But this solution involves a substantial efficiency loss. A Mirrleesian optimal income tax can reduce inequality at a smaller efficiency cost. An alternative approach is to amend the current tax system to include a lump-sum rebate. With the rebate in place, it is optimal to tax robots as long as there is partial automation.

Suggested Citation

  • Joao Guerreiro & Sergio Rebelo & Pedro Teles, 2017. "Should Robots be Taxed?," NBER Working Papers 23806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23806
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Naito, Hisahiro, 1999. "Re-examination of uniform commodity taxes under a non-linear income tax system and its implication for production efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 165-188, February.
    2. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:reveco:v:59:y:2019:i:c:p:500-509 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Brinca, Pedro & Duarte, João B. & Holter, Hans A. & Oliveira, João G., 2019. "Investment-Specific Technological Change, Taxation and Inequality in the U.S," MPRA Paper 91960, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Stéphane Auray & Aurélien Eyquem, 2018. "Robots in a Small Open Economy," Working Papers 2018-17, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    4. Naudé, Wim & Nagler, Paula, 2017. "Technological Innovation and Inclusive Growth in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 11194, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Martin Adler & Stefanie Peer & Tanja Sinozic, 2019. "Autonomous, Connected, Electric Shared vehicles (ACES) and public finance: an explorative analysis," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-005/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Geiger, Niels & Prettner, Klaus & Schwarzer, Johannes A., 2018. "Automatisierung, Wachstum und Ungleichheit," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 13-2018, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    7. Ahmed S. Rahman, 2017. "Rise of the Machines Redux – Education, Technological Transition and Long-run Growth," Departmental Working Papers 61, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    8. Francesco Caselli & Alan Manning, 2017. "Robot Arithmetic: Can New Technology Harm All Workers or the Average Worker?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1497, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    9. repec:eee:bushor:v:61:y:2018:i:6:p:823-832 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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