- Bernie Sanders says government should “tax the robots” that replace workers.
- In his new book, Sanders references Microsoft’s Bill Gates’ ideas on this issue.
- “We’re going to need to adapt tax and regulatory policies” to address robots, Sanders write.
You’ve heard Sen. Bernie Sanders say — and probably shout — that he wants to tax billionaires. He also wants to tax robots.
In his new book, the Vermont independent writes that he supports establishing a robot tax to account for the impact of automation on workers.
“If workers are going to be replaced by robots, as will be the case in many industries, we’re going to need to adapt tax and regulatory policies to assure that the change does not simply become an excuse for race-to-the-bottom profiteering by multinational corporations,” he wrote in “It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism,” to be released on February 21.
The general idea behind a robot tax, levied on firms that replace humans with robots, is to disincentivize the practice and to cover the loss of revenue from payroll taxes when robots are used, according to a report by Robert Seamans for Brookings.
Seamans argues that these taxes “may be well-intentioned” but are “a misguided idea that would have negative consequences for firms, their workers and ultimately the economy.” That’s because the idea that robots are taking jobs is “not well founded” and it would lead to less economic growth, he wrote.
But Sanders isn’t alone in this thinking that robots should be taxed. His book references policy ideas from other proponents, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, a billionaire who Sanders notes is “not someone I regularly agree with.”
Gates has said that the tax could help finance jobs requiring “human empathy and understanding,” such as elder care, having smaller class sizes or helping children with special needs.
Sanders also points to other ideas from other sources, as well, that would require companies to pay a portion of payroll taxes into a retraining fund for displaced workers or that would prevent automation from reducing tax revenue.