The Internal Revenue Service is opening up its detailed tax data to researchers outside the federal government who can make use of the information in their studies.
The IRS issued a call for proposals Tuesday for its Joint Statistical Research Program to allow the use of tax microdata by qualified researchers who don’t work for the U.S. government. The IRS has long provided its own detailed tax research, notably in the quarterly Statistics of Income bulletin that it regularly releases.
The hope is that outside researchers will be able to provide new insights and understanding of the way existing tax policies affect individuals, businesses and the economy. The research could also foster better understanding of how taxpayer behavior can help improve the administration of the federal tax system.
A number of academic groups already work with IRS data, such as Syracuse University’s Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse, along with think tanks like the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center.
The IRS listed the following topics as being of particular interest to the tax research community:
• Tax administration in a global economy;
• Taxpayer needs and behavior, particularly the roles of information, complexity, salience, engagement and compliance costs;
• Filing, payment and reporting compliance measures, behaviors and drivers;
• Benefit participation measures, behaviors and drivers, particularly related to the Affordable Care Act;
• Taxpayer response to policy changes, particularly taxpayer responses to changes in incentives;
• The role of complex business structures in tax planning;
• Application of new research methods for tax administration, particularly data science, behavioral insights or other interdisciplinary approaches.
The IRS said all research proposal applications need to be received by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2016
The 2016 Call for Proposals application is available here.