Uwe Thuemmel
Publication year: 2020

I study the optimal taxation of robots, other capital, and labor income. I show that it is optimal to distort robot adoption. The robot tax (or subsidy) exploits general-equilibrium effects to compress wages, which reduces income-tax distortions of labor supply, thereby raising welfare. In the calibrated model, when robots are expensive, a robot subsidy is optimal. As robots get cheaper, it becomes optimal to tax them. Yet, when reforming the status-quo tax system, most welfare gains can be achieved by adjusting the income tax. The additional gains from taxing robots differently than other equipment capital are close to zero.

See here for the previous version: CESifo Working Paper 7317.