29.11.2022 | News

What We Know About Tax Systems, How We Know It, and What We Still Need to Know

The keynote address given by Professor Joel Slemrod (University of Michigan) at the inaugural seminar of The Finnish Centre of Excellence in Tax Systems Research (FIT), University of Tampere, Finland, on September 1, 2022.

Professor, author Joel Slemrod from the University of Michigan visited Tampere in connection of the launch of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Tax Systems Research (FIT) in September 2022. The transcription of his honorary keynote “What We Know about Tax Systems, How We Know It, and What We Still Need to Know” is now available on this site. The link for downloading can be found in the end of this article.

Joel Slemrod at Tampere University on September 1, 2022
Joel Slemrod at the inaugual seminar of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Tax Systems Research (FIT)

In his research, Joel Slemrod has expanded the tax research towards systemic thinking with elements like tax evasion or the functioning of the tax administration being included in the examination. In this light, Slemrod elaborated in this keynote on the building blocks of a tax system, gave examples of new ways to learn about tax systems, and pointed out what are new hot topics that require attention from the researchers – in Slemrod’s words: things you young folks should start to think about!

When talking about the new developments, Slemrod pointed the positive changes in the environment of the economic analysis of taxation: the willingness of tax agencies to share their data with academics has increased significantly, and even under strict protocols that has enabled economists to conduct truly impressive work. The partnership of tax agencies with academics has tremendously expanded the knowledge of the impact of enforcement policies on tax evasion. Slemrod also pointed out that Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) are now hot and extremely valuable in taxation, and his speech did include fascinating examples of RCT and bunching.

Slemrod concluded his keynote with questions on external validity and the transfer of research from one country to another, what can we learn from each other in different countries? There are no universal answers, but as Joel Slemrod put it: “this is a wonderful time to embark on an ambitious program of tax systems research, as the Centre of Excellence in Tax Systems Research promises to do. New data and new analytical methods promise to shed light both on new tax issues as well as perennial but difficult policy choices.”

The transcription of Joel Slemrod’s keynote can be downloaded as a PDF file from the link above.

Cover photo: Jonne Renvall, Tampere University