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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Should Robots Pay Taxes?

Federal taxes are due this week in the US. But what about our synthetic coworkers? Should they cough up, too? Jordan Harrod, a Harvard-MIT PhD student, has something to say on the subject.
COVID-19 means the US delayed this year's federal tax deadline to July 15; if you've procrastinated, it's time to get to it. But while tax collectors will only accept payment from humans in 2020, will we soon be sending tax bills to robots, too?

That's the question posed by Jordan Harrod, a medical engineering and neurobiology PhD student at Harvard by day and YouTube creator by night. On her channel, she digs into geeky topics like whether it's possible to make artificial intelligence speak and the aforementioned android taxation.

As she explains, US companies are taxed based on how many employees they have. More machines and fewer people mean less money paid in taxes. So the argument is that companies that lay off human workers and move to automation should not necessarily get a big tax break, and the taxes they do pay should go to retrain or support people who are now out of a job.

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