Robots and Taxes

You probably don’t think of robots and taxes together very often, but two stories in the news bring the topic up — and provide a good example of the competing positions on robots in our society.

First, Wired magazine echoes years of predictions by suggesting that accountants will be replaced by robots. The author points out that modern machinery and modern tax preparation are becoming increasingly”robotic” — that is, doing taxes requires less management of unordered data, fewer judgement calls, and less human interaction. If you just allow your accountant to access your books in the cloud, there may be very little human work taking place even this tax season.

What’s more, the possible errors are not that high-risk. It’s not like autonomous vehicles which might kill someone if they make a mistake.

Tax accountants and financial planners are fairly high up on the list of replaceable human workers, and the Wired article suggests that the focus on manufacturing in discussions of robot job threats may be a mistake.

On the other hand, robot workers can save employers a lot of money. Not only might they cost less that the wages of human workers, but they also save on taxes. Bill Gates has suggested that employers who replace humans with robots should still pay payroll taxes, plus the taxes that will be lost in income tax as well. Bill Gates isn’t the only one, either: the EU is actually working on a version of this law.

Commenters are making fun of this idea by describing it as a plan to “make robots pay taxes.” In fact, the proposals are more like a penalty on choosing robot workers over human workers. The goal of such taxes is not to provide a nice retirement for robots, nor to prepare for their maternity leave, but rather to replace the taxes collected for and from human workers.

So what about your Rexroth electric motion control system? Or any other automated machinery in your current facility? It took the place, at least in theory, of a human being or group of human beings who could do its job. Why would a more humanoid robot be charged taxes while a less cute machine that replaces human workers would not?

Are robots part of a wonderful new world of ever-increasing automated services, or a problem we need to solve?

If your Rexroth motion control is causing you more anxiety than your taxes, give us a call. We offer phone service, field service, fast factory repair, and the largest selection of emergency parts in the nation.

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