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Electronic Filing, Tax Preparers, and Participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit

Author

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  • Wojciech Kopczuk
  • Cristian Pop-Eleches

Abstract

In 2002 more than 18 million low-income individual taxpayers received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Despite its size, non-participation in this program is a concern and substantial effort is devoted by the IRS, local governments and many non-profits to address it. Most of the tax returns for EITC recipients are filed electronically by paid tax preparers who often charge significant fees for their services. Using variation across states in the introduction of state electronic filing programs, we show that the introduction of electronic filing had a significant effect on participation in the EITC. Our results are robust to accounting for other welfare, EITC and IRS reforms introduced during the same period. We suggest that this effect is due to the impact that electronic filing opportunities had on the tax preparation industry, therefore providing an example of how a market-based approach can be effective in addressing the problem of program non-participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wojciech Kopczuk & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2005. "Electronic Filing, Tax Preparers, and Participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 11768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11768
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    Cited by:

    1. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Using Differences in Knowledge across Neighborhoods to Uncover the Impacts of the EITC on Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2683-2721, December.
    2. World Bank & International Finance Corporation, 2013. "Doing Business 2014 : Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 16204, July.
    3. Leigh Andrew, 2010. "Who Benefits from the Earned Income Tax Credit? Incidence among Recipients, Coworkers and Firms," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-43, May.
    4. repec:pri:cepsud:184rothstein is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jesse Rothstein, 2010. "Is the EITC as Good as an NIT? Conditional Cash Transfers and Tax Incidence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 177-208, February.
    6. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2011. "Transfer Program Complexity and the Take-Up of Social Benefits," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 54-90, February.
    7. Carol Osler & Thang Nguyen & Tanseli Savaser, 2011. "Asymmetric Information and the Foreign-Exchange Trades of Global Custody Banks," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    8. Julie Janssens & Natascha Van Mechelen, 2017. "Who is to Blame? An Overview of the Factors Contributing to the Non-Take-Up of Social Rights," Working Papers 1708, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    9. James Alm & Todd Cherry & Michael McKee & Michael L. Jones, 2010. "Investigating Behavioral Responses to Positive Inducements for Filing Tax Returns," Working Papers 10-11, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    10. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2007. "The effects of state policy design features on take-up and crowd-out rates for the state children's health insurance program," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(1), pages 149-175.
    11. Dayanand S. Manoli & Nicholas Turner, 2014. "Nudges and Learning: Evidence from Informational Interventions for Low-Income Taxpayers," NBER Working Papers 20718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Alm, James & Cherry, Todd L. & Jones, Michael & McKee, Michael, 2012. "Social programs as positive inducements for tax participation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 85-96.
    13. Bohne, Albrecht & Nimczik, Jan Sebastian, 2018. "Information Frictions and Learning Dynamics: Evidence from Tax Avoidance in Ecuador," IZA Discussion Papers 11536, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Schorn, Michael, 2009. "Tax compliance costs: a business administration perspective," Discussion Papers 2009/3, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    15. Russell, Blair D. & Moulton, Stephanie & Greenbaum, Robert T., 2014. "Take-up of mortgage assistance for distressed homeowners: The role of geographic accessibility," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 57-74.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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