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Technological innovation started changing our lives fast.The rapid growth in the robotic technology seems to have an effect in our social life in the near future.Robots are used hugely in industrial sector today; and the service sector has begun to be supported by robots. Robots are used in many areas from schools to hospitals.Especially, they begun being the assistant of doctors, nurses and technicians in health sector -from diagnosis of diseases to analysis of disease-related data-. 

Developing the AI focused business processes on, began effecting the income and growth, and it is assumed that this growing will continue in the upcoming years.Parallel to this, the development of new jobs seems to create different expansions in the sector. 

Because, this technological change wave, will diversify the profile of jobs, it will require some workers to be competent or retrained in the current industry or transfer to another sector.The learning programmes based on technology is necessary for ensuring that current employees are capable individuals in the face of technological advancement.The improtant quesiton here is whom these programmes will financed by.Governments will play an important role in promoting investments and providing direct funding to educational institutions. (Robotics, Robots and the Workplace of the Future, 2018)

Robots and An Unemployment Future Danger

Looking into the historical course, due to the mechanization of agriculture, millions of  people lost their jobs, and it forced the unemployed worker masses to immigrate to cities.Then, automation and the globalization shifted the workers from manufacturing sector to service sector. Even though the short term unemployment increased in these transitional periods,  these periods never become permanent.New job areas occurred.New doors opened to the people who lost their jobs.Moreover, these new jobs were generally more agreeable than the old ones.They required more skill but provided more money. As the machines, used in production, evolved, the productivity of workers using these machines were also increased.So, the workers became more valuable and could demand higher salaries.In this post-war period, the rise in productivity reflected at the price of the average worker; and the emerging technology put money in the cash of the workers.(Ford, 2018) So, the workers consumed more, thanks to their increased income. 

The rise of productivity was going to the pocket of workers; but now it almost entirely is going to the pocket of employers and investors. . The share of national income in labour has fallen sharply in proportion to the share of capital, and it continues to decline rapidly. In the face of this situation, we will need to  question one of our most basic assumptions: “Machine is a tool that increases the productivity of the worker.”. Because, nowadays the machines are becoming the workers themselves. (Ford, 2018)

The OECD’s 2016 indicators shows that especially less improved and improving countries are to face greater destructions against automation. As a result of automation, all of the economy can become less labor-intensive and more capital-intensive. For example, although new companies such as Google and Facebook Inc have huge market value, the number of people they employ is very small compared to the size and effects of these companies. (Ford, 2018)

Taxation of Robots

The issue of taxation of robots has been ignored for a long time. But, the idea of taxation of robots began to being discussed intensely with the proposal of “robot tax”, financing the funds of workers who are fired, has been offered to the European Parliament in February 2017. 

Being Taxpayers of Robots

The theme of taxation of robots should be examined from two perspectives: Tax payments by robot and taxes on robot

Looking at the Turkish Tax Law, the article 8 describes the taxpayer. According to this, the taxpayer is natural or legal person who has the tax dept according to tax law. At this point, ethical and legal debates will be on the way for the robot to be accepted as natural person like human. As a matter of fact, the subject of legal systems, that exist today, is human. People are the starting point for analysing personality. Although the personality has different descriptions, it generally includes to be the subject to rights and obligations.  In this sense, personality is synonymous with the capacity to have rights (Öğüz & Dural, Türk Özel Hukuku, Kişiler Hukuku, 2013). Although there are differences between countries today, the principles of equality and generality has been accepted in terms of possessing the capacity to have right, namely personality. Meaning, every human has the capacity to have rights and all people are equal to have rights and obligations. 

However, the law has included legal personality as well as natural personality. According to the Article 47 et al. of Turkish Civil Code, communities of individuals organized as an entity in their own right, and communities of independent property that have been specially designated for a certain purpose, shall acquire legal personality in accordance with the special provisions relating to them. The legal persons have all rights and debts other than those related to human nature, such as gender, age, and relationship of creation. They acquire the ability to act by having the necessary organs according to the law and foundation documents. 

In the light of these explanations, it is unthinkable that the robots, which are incapable of many qualities peculiar to human beings, are accepted as natural persons (for today). Therewithal, because the necessary organizational relationship in terms of legal personality is not possible for robots, and it is not also possible for robots to be recognized in the framework of existing regulations and to be able to pay for “labour” given by a robot that replaces human workers today. It should be understood from the letter of the law that, being taxpayer is not possible for technical creatures such as robots. In the face of the present situation, we will continue to keep the robots in the status of “property”. But in the next years, the personality description for robots can be made, beside the distinction between natural person and legal person. 

Argument of Taxation of Robots

The Turkish tax law system is based on Western European and especially Federal German laws as a background.   Our First Constitution, which was drafted in 1921, did not include a provision on taxation. The 1924 Constitution described the tax as public participation in general expenditures of the state and remarked that taxation could only be levied and collected by law. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014) The most important tax reform in the history of the Republic of Turkey was materialised by the acceptance of Income Tax Law, Corporation Tax Law and Law of Tax Procedure, during1949 to 1950. The 1961 Constitution adopted the Constitutional Court’s judicial review of the law’s compliance with the Constitution. After 1980, significant changing was made in almost all the tax laws. The transfer of broad powers to the executive authority, regarding the tax law, which was issued after 1980, appears to be the most prominent feature of that period. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014)

As Turkey is ranked among the developing countries, today to adapting to the technological developments and regulation of the legal arrangements, will also need to be reshaped accordingly. No doubt one of these will be the tax law. 

Turkish Tax System, in terms of private law, can be examined in the following three divisions:

  • Taxes received from income, 
  • Taxes received from the wealth,
  • Taxes received from the expenditure. 

1. Taxes received from Income and Robots

Taxes received from income generate the majority of modern tax systems. Turkish Tax System allows for two distinctictive tax types levied, which are the “income tax” and the “corporate tax”. 

1. 1. Robots in Terms of Income Tax

The subject of income tax is the income of natural persons. Therefore, the person who has income is in the status of tax payer, and according to the regulation, natural person is liable with the income tax. The description of natural person as an income tax payer, is determined completely according to civil law rules According to this, in regard with the natural persons the beginning of the personality, the end of the personality, the rights of natural persons and their ability to act will be resolved by taking the provisions of the Civil Code as basis. Despite the fact that the concept of natural person is settled within the framework of civil law, tax law regulations will be the basis for the capacity of taxpayer. As a result of this, natural persons who have income, are accepted that they may be deemed to have the capacity in respect of the payment of tax dept, even if they do not have the capacity in the sense of civil law. 

Considering the above explanations of how robots can have natural person status, it will not be possible for robot workers employed in the company earn right to salary for their labor.In this context, we cannot discourse that robots earn income like natural person, hence we cannot evaluate in terms of Civil Law in terms of natural person status,. Therefore, we cannot mention a tax liability under the Income Tax Law. 

At the same time, income derived from the possession of property and rights listed in Article 70 of the Income Tax Law, their ownerships, possession, easement and usufruct rights, are described as  real estate capital incomes. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014) It is also within the scope of this definition that income tax is levied on permanent fittings, fittings, fixtures and upholstery hired on separate from real state earnings.” So, the income earned of employed robots which reside as movable properties in a factory, need to be levied. 

In the Article 80 of Income Tax Law, the other earnings and revenues are drafted as a type of income. In this scope, earnings are divided into “appreciation gains” and “provisional (temporary) gains”. 

Briefly, the appreciation gains are generated from holding some investments for a period of time than selling them off. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014) In this respect, for example, gains from the selling off the rights like the use of a secret formula or manufacturing on an experimental basis in industry, commerce and science, are levied as appreciation gain. Therefore, the taxation of the rights acquired through robots and artificial intelligence can be considered as such. Furthermore, the gains originating from the selling off of the copyrights of artificial intelligence and robotic products, by the people other than their inventors and the legal heirs, can also be subject to taxation.

After a company shut downs its activities on robotic technology, the gain obtained as a result of the wholly or partly selling off the remaining property assets, may also be levied as a earn on appreciation gain. 

1. 2. Robots in Terms of Corporate Tax

Corporate Tax is the taxation of the income of some legal persons other than natural persons, individual entities and private companies, and some entities that do not have legal persons. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014) The aim is that capital income is levied more heavily than labour income. 

In terms of the Article 1 of Corporate Tax Law, subject the of corporate tax is earnings of corporations. Also, according to the same article, the liables of corporate tax are corporations, cooperatives, financial public institutions, financial managements, that belonged to associations and foundations and business partnerships. 

One of the proposals for the recognition of personality to robots is propounded by the EuRobotics working group, which has been working with the European Union. The electronic personality model that they suggest also comes from the legal personality, and they claim that the electronical personality can be implemented for robots.   Each robot registers an official register and, at the time of registration, designs a structure similar to the trade registry system in the form of entitlement to personality, and proposes the use of such funds in case of compensation liability. 

Altough the path is taken from the legal person model, an income -corporate earning- should be obtained as if it was in the income tax, in order to be levied. This proposal adverts the creation of assets, that will be specific to the field of activity, after the autonomous robots have been recorded the official register. But, when the calculation of tax base in corporation tax is checked, it is referenced to the articles about the commercial earnings of Income Tax Law. In this respect, in order to apply the corporation tax, it will be necessary for the robots’ status to be determined as a legal personality, as well as, the continuity of the factor of obtaining this earning and the activity to be carried out. 

2. Taxation of Wealth and Robots

In Turkish Tax Law, besides the taxes collected from the income and expenditure, the taxes collected from the wealth are also take place. In this category, there are real estate tax, inheritance and transfer tax, motor vehicles tax. 

In the Article 1 of Motor Vehicles Tax, the tax liability will be started with the recording and registration. The subject of the motor vehicles tax is motorized land and air vehicles. And the taxpayer is natural and legal persons, which record and register motor vehicles in the relevant registries. 

Considering robots, it is not possible to accept that they are subject to motor vehicles tax directly.    However, it is also possible to register robots by the means of a registration system to be created, starting from the personality models foreseen for robots. In this respect, recording and registering registrants may be subject to taxation, and the person who appears to have the property of the robot at the time of registration may also have a tax liability. The obligation will also change naturally with the change of ownership on the register. 

3. Taxation of Expenditure and Robots 

Taxation of expenditure is taxes on produced, sold or consumed properties and services. They are levied not at the income or wealth but in the prices of the goods and services, when they are consumed. They are indirect taxes. The amounts vary according to consumption expenditures; person, using more taxed properties, pays more tax compared to others. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014)

Value-added tax is the most modern type of the taxation of expenditure. Here, taxes are levied on the value added to the product at every stage of the production and distribution process. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014) In Turkey, the subject of the value added tax is, commercial, industrial, agricultural and professional delivery of goods which are made within the framework of activities, services, and which are all kinds of goods and services imports. (Öncel, Kumrulu, & Çağan, 2014)

With the introduction of robots into the service sector, the application of Value Added Tax to robotic technology can be discussed. The use of many robotic technologies has begun to service at shopping centres, airports and banks. To use AI and robotic technology in the health sector, is becoming a frequent solution in research and diagnostics. In this respect, it may also be possible to take VAT through robotic technology in the framework of the service provided. For this, the processes should be carried out in Turkey and the delivery and services must be within the framework of self-employed, commercial, industrial, agricultural operations of . 

The taxation is deemed to be occured if the delivery of goods and services are realized. The person with the tax liability adds tax to the price of taxable goods and services and confers liability to the customer Therefore, it is possible to apply the Value Added Tax (VAT) in terms of persons who produce and benefit from robotic technology services. 

Conclusion

Robots and artificial intelligence have now become an unchangeable part of our lives  Change in the business processes and transforming the professions of these technologies, has begun to create huge changes and devastations in employment. In order for human workers, who are losing their jobs to robots, to be involved in the process, legal arrangements of governments are necessary to be adapted the for these developments. Moreover, the fact that, companies are adapting to automation, causes decreasing tax revenues of governments. In this respect, it will be necessary to go ahead with tax legislation in order to ensure that people are trained and acquire new skills in the face of this technology, and that governments should balance their tax revenues. 

 

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