The Tax Administration Research Centre was launched in January 2013
Taxation is a significant feature of the economy: the revenue raised by taxes in the UK amounts to 35 percent of gross domestic product. It is imperative that the burden this places on society should be reduced as far as possible by good tax design and efficient tax administration. Tax instruments should be suited to purpose and administration conducted efficiently to ensure that revenue is collected successfully and that the tax bill is distributed across taxpayers as intended by Parliament.
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.
From September 2018, TARC has entered an exciting new phase. Since its creation in 2013, TARC has developed into a global hub of research activity in relation to tax administration and expanded its activities beyond its initial brief of working closely with HMRC. From 1 September 2018, TARC will be solely funded by the ESRC and will be based primarily at the University of Exeter, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies transitions from being a full partner to being a collaborator. We will continue to work closely with HMRC, and also with other tax administrations and supranational bodies to continue to build on the momentum achieved in the first five years of operation. We are grateful to HMRC for contributing to the initial funding for TARC which has allowed the Centre to develop into a thriving interdisciplinary research team. We are also grateful to the IFS for being part of TARC’s evolution and project development.
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".
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 is central to the design. The Centre also engages in capacity building to provide greater enhance future capability for research on tax administration.