Yanis Varoufakis (Ιωάννης Βαρουφάκης) proposes to fund a universal basic income (UBI) using dividends from a commons capital depository, essentially channeling a percentage of shares issued at an initial public offering (IPO) into a depository. He argues that taxing robots is difficult in practice, that funding UBI through income tax is untenable, and taxing capital/wealth is difficult in practice. Rather, he proposes (see full article for context; emphasis mine):
So how should society be compensated? Taxation is the wrong answer. Corporations pay taxes in exchange for services the state provides them, not for capital injections that must yield dividends. There is thus a strong case that the commons have a right to a share of the capital stock, and associated dividends, reflecting society’s investment in corporations’ capital. And, because it is impossible to calculate the size of state and social capital crystalized in any firm, we can decide how much of its capital stock the public should own only by means of a political mechanism.
A simple policy would be to enact legislation requiring that a percentage of capital stock (shares) from every initial public offering (IPO) be channeled into a Commons Capital Depository, with the associated dividends funding a universal basic dividend (UBD). This UBD should, and can be, entirely independent of welfare payments, unemployment insurance, and so forth, thus ameliorating the concern that it would replace the welfare state, which embodies the concept of reciprocity between waged workers and the unemployed.
Has anything like his proposed commons capital depository ever been tried in practice? Although he proposes it in the context of UBI, as a form of/alternative for taxation it could be introduced independently.
Is there any historical precedent for such a model? Are there any economic studies into what the effects would be to shift government revenue from one based on income or capital gains tax, to one such as proposed by Varoufakis?