74 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2021 Last revised: 22 Jun 2022
Date Written: March 12, 2021
The United States implements much of its social policy through its income tax laws. The Code is rife with tax expenditures for education, housing, community economic development, retirement savings, and health care to name a few. But the IRS is not an agency with expertise in any of these areas and developing such expertise would draw resources away from its core tax administration mission. Commentators have thus called for a series of changes from turning these tax expenditures into outlays for these programs to divesting the IRS/Treasury of most of the administration of social policy tax expenditures. Yet, given American politics and the institutional structure of the federal government, these moves are both unlikely to occur and unwise.
This Article suggests a different and more promising route. It argues that agency coordination between the IRS/Treasury and other federal agencies, or in other words—tax coordination—would improve administration, management, and potential outcomes of these social policy tax expenditures. Drawing on the well-established literature in administrative law and public administration regarding agency coordination, this Article shows the benefit of tax coordination. It then presents case studies where the IRS works with other agencies to administer certain tax measures for social policy. Finally, it employs insights from the public administration literature to recommend institutional and managerial changes that would make tax coordination successful.
Keywords: Taxation, Administrative Law, Public Administration
JEL Classification: K34, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation