Reimagining the Estate Tax in the Automation Era

UC Irvine Law Review, Vol. 9:787, 2019

44 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2019

Date Written: March 13, 2019


In a technological age, labor no longer plays the central role it once did in the nation’s economy. Instead, automation has become more ubiquitous. This economic transformation has important and far-reaching consequences for the nation’s tax system and, in particular, the means by which to fund public expenditures.

Under current law, the central underpinning to automatization, namely, capital, yields income that is either lightly taxed or, in some instances, escapes taxation altogether. This puts tremendous stress on the nation’s coffers and further perpetuates wealth disparities. Yet, levying a heavier capital gains tax burden might (i) dissuade taxpayers from realizing their gains and (ii) in a global arena, result in its flight.

Another possibility exists. Congress should impose a meaningful estate tax. Such a tax is essentially the equivalent of a deferred tax on capital income. A reimagined estate tax can help restore fiscal solvency, promote greater wealth equity, foster capital gain recognition, and minimize capital flight risk.

Keywords: Estate Tax, Automation

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Soled, Jay, Reimagining the Estate Tax in the Automation Era (March 13, 2019). UC Irvine Law Review, Vol. 9:787, 2019, Available at SSRN:

Jay Soled (Contact Author)

Rutgers University ( email )

1 Washington Park
Newark, NJ 07901-1825
United States
(973) 353-1727 (Phone)

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