Robot vs. tax inspector or how the fourth industrial revolution will change the tax system: a review of problems and solutions

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Tax Reform, Volume 4, Issue 1, p.6 - 26 (2018)



blockchain, cyber-physical technologies, digitization, taxes in Big Data, taxes on cryptocurrencies, taxes on digital goods, taxes on robots


The fourth Industiral Revolution and the accelerated development of cyber-physical technologies lead to essential changes in national tax systems and international taxation. The main areas in which taxation meets cyber-physical technologies are digitization, robotization, M2M and blockchain technologies. Each of these areas has its own opportunities and problems. Three main approaches towards possible solutions for these new problems are identified. The first is to try to apply taxation to new cyber-physical technologies and products of their application. This approach includes the OECD's Action 1 plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. It also includes the spread of traditional taxes on new objects - personal data, cryptocurrencies, imputed income of robots. The second is to replace digital transactions and shortfalls in revenues by traditional objects of taxation in the form of tangible assets and people and / or increase tax pressure (including by improving tax administration with use of Big Data) and the degree of progressiveness of taxes already levied on such objects. The third approach is to set a course on building a new tax space with smart taxes based on real-time principles, smart contracts and Big Data. This implies a transition to automatic taxation using blockchain technologies, which focus on the functions of applying distributed ledgers of business transactions in real-time. At present, the general trends are such that the first and second are prevalent, which is manifested in an increase in the relative importance of property, sales and employment taxes. Concerning the third approach, any movement in this direction is still facing a number oftechnical and other problems and is thus being discussed mainly at the conceptual level