Does automation erode governments' tax basis? An empirical assessment of tax revenues in Europe
Angelos Theodorakopoulos () and
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Decomposing taxes by source (labor, capital, sales), we analyze the impact of automation (1) on tax revenues, (2) the structure of taxation, and (3) identify channels of impact in 19 EU countries during 1995-2016. Robots and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are different technologies designed to automate manual (robots) or cognitive tasks (ICT). Until 2007, robot diffusion led to decreasing factor and tax income, and a shift from taxes on capital to goods. ICTs changed the structure of taxation from capital to labor. We find decreasing employment, but increasing wages and labor income. After 2008, robots have no effect but we find an ICT-induced increase in capital income, a rise of services, but no effect on taxation. Automation goes through different phases with different economic impacts which affect the amount and structure of taxes. Whether automation erodes taxation depends (a) on the technology type, (b) the stage of diffusion and (c) local conditions.
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