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ATPI Conference This Friday Highlights Tax Administration and Low-Income Taxpayers

Posted on Apr. 22, 2015

This Friday April 24 at 8:45 a.m., the American Tax Policy Institute is live-streaming an all-day conference called “Delivering Benefits to Low-Income Taxpayers through the Tax System.”The conference is in Washington DC at the offices of Skadden Arps and is free and open to all. For those not in DC or unable to attend, the event will be live streamed here.

View the program and also register to attend the conference in person here.

The conference should have a great deal of content addressing tax administration as it relates to lower-income taxpayers. The panels include a morning session moderated by Professor Michelle Drumbl on US administrative efforts to improve delivery of the EITC that has as panelists Dave Williams, the Chief Tax Officer for Intuit, as well as Professor Bryan Camp (who like Dave has written for PT), and Jodi Patterson from IRS, who directs the Return Integrity and Correspondence Services.

I am moderating the  later afternoon panel which looks at international efforts to administer transfer programs through the tax system; Nina Olson will be on that panel as well as Professor Allison Christians from McGill and Steve Vesperman, the Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office.

There are two other terrific panels  looking at take up of benefit programs and how families use the benefits. The full program linked above has the times and all the panelists.

Time has slipped away this week and I had hoped to discuss NTA Nina Olson’s testimony a week or so ago before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The testimony has a detailed discussion of issues relating to the administration of the EITC. I will save thoughts on the testimony until after the conference, though point interested readers to the testimony around page 24 which considers the balancing of taxpayer rights and the goal to reduce error rates. It is easy when thinking about EITC to focus on one of the goals and not the other. The improper payment rate as it relates to EITC is often looked at in a vacuum, without considering for example errors in other provisions in the tax code, the relative low direct costs of administering benefits in the tax system (see the table on page 26 presenting costs and benefits of many programs), and the role of preparers in facilitating claimant error. The NTA testimony addresses some of these issues and I suspect that there will be lots more discussed this week at the ATPI conference.

The NTA testimony discusses some of the experiences of other countries, including that of Australia. Broadening the inquiry to look at international issues is I think a very interesting part of this week’s ATPI conference and I look forward to learning more about the ATO experience.

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