Studying the Studies: An Overview of Recent Research into Taxation Operating Costs

eJournal of Tax Research, Vol. 1, No. 1

Posted: 30 Nov 2004

See all articles by Chris Evans

Chris Evans

University of New South Wales


Studies into the operating costs of taxation compliance costs for taxpayers and administrative costs for revenue authorities have flourished in recent years. This paper provides an overview of these studies, and reveals both the breadth and the depth of the research in this area. The paper focuses upon studies that have taken place in the last 20 years or so, although the paper also briefly considers the broader historical context, including the reasons why research into tax operating costs has apparently flourished after some initial neglect. A summary of most of the major (and some minor) administrative and compliance cost studies that have been published (and some that have not been published) since 1980 is contained in an appendix. This summary highlights the geographical spread of operating cost research, the variety of taxes and aspects of tax systems that have been studied, and the range of methodologies employed. The outcomes of the research are also summarised. A key thesis of the paper is that tax law design should not take place without clear recognition of the impact of the proposed changes on the operating costs of the tax system. Sensible tax law design must be informed by an understanding of the impact that design will have on the burden that taxpayers will face and the administrative costs that the revenue authority will be required to carry.

Keywords: Taxation, compliance costs, empirical studies

Suggested Citation

Evans, Christopher Charles, Studying the Studies: An Overview of Recent Research into Taxation Operating Costs. eJournal of Tax Research, Vol. 1, No. 1, Available at SSRN:

Christopher Charles Evans (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales ( email )

School of Taxation and Business Law
Australian School of Business, UNSW
Sydney, NSW 2052

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