Commissioning process

In February 2012 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), in partnership with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT), jointly invited outline proposals for the establishment of an independent Centre for Research on Tax Administration.

The call stated that "The aim of the centre will be to support high quality research and related activities on tax administration with a view to strengthening the theoretical and empirical understanding of the delivery and design of tax operations and policies".

Research context - ESRC/HMRC/HMT

The idea of a research centre in tax administration developed from the success of the Joint Research Programme on Tax Policy and Operations. This programme was the first to be financed by a partnership of the ESRC, HMRC, and HMT and involved seven independent research projects coordinated by a Steering Group. The perceived benefit of partnership funding is the enhanced policy relevance and impact of the research.

The successful features of the Joint Research Programme were carried into the design of the Tax Administration Research Centre (TARC). The research agenda was chosen for its policy relevance and the engagement of the funders in the research activities was central to the design. It was also envisaged that the Centre would undertake capacity building to provide greater enhance future capability for research on tax administration.

Policy and practical context

The UK Government’s central objective for the tax system is to ‘… make it more competitive, simpler, greener and fairer’ and ‘… to restore the UK tax system’s reputation for predictability, stability and simplicity’. An essential element of that objective is to improve the design and delivery of tax administration so that it maximises revenue within existing provision to close the tax gap, improve taxpayers’ experience of the service provided by the tax authority, ensures cost-effectiveness, and supports economic growth. The work of TARC is devoted to obtaining these objectives.