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is a research office at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. OTPR supports and disseminates academic research on all aspects of the tax system, with the goal of informing discussion about the future course of policy. We are non-partisan and advocate no particular policies.

  OTPR Newsletter -- February 2016

The February 2016 issue of the OTPR newsletter is now available for download.  Feature stories include photos from the Alumni Dinner, National Tax Association Short Session on Health Care, Why OTPR Students Recommend NTA, and Save the Date for M-TAXI 2016.  You won't want to miss this edition!     



The highlight of this year's 71st Annual Congress of the International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF) held at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, was when Professor Joel Slemrod assumed the presidency of this prestigious group for a 3-year term.  The IIPF, founded in 1937, is the world's pre-eminent academic institution for the study and research of public policy topics with a membership of about 800 academics and policy officials from more than 50 countries.

Current PhD students Daniel Reck and Enda Hargaden (proudly showing off his home country) were joined by OTPR alums Laura Kalambokidis, Nathan Seegert, Sebastian Bradley, Claudio Agostini, Yulia Paramonova, David Cashin, and Makoto Hasegawa.

Claudio Agostini and Nathan Seegert were not shy about sharing the spotlight with Estelle Dauchy.

Laura Kawano at the Revenue Museum of the Dublin Castle doing what has been dubbed the "tax collector pose"!


Twenty-six students from eight countries were invited to attend a 4-day Doctoral Student Workshop titled "Tax Systems" held in Warsaw, Poland from June 15-18.  Co-sponsoring this event were OTPR, IIPF, CESifo, ZEW, and CBT.  Professors Joel Slemrod and Wojtek Kopczuk designed and prepared the presentations that fostered great discussion.  All attendees can be seen in the photo below.



Recently, Professor Ugo Troiano, Research Associate of OTPR, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times titled "Shaming Those Who Skip Out on Taxes."

"IN 2006, according to an estimate by the United States Treasury Department, Americans underpaid their taxes by about $450 billion. For that year, that’s roughly equal to Pentagon spending, and more than the gross domestic products of Sweden and Switzerland.  A good chunk of the missing tax revenues comes from underreporting income, or tax evasion. The rest, roughly 25 percent — about $110 billion — comes from failure to pay taxes, or tax delinquency... MORE"

Professor Joel Slemrod was cited in a Wall Street Journal article titled "The Tax Collectors Say Few Understand Their Passion."
He, along with the members of the Office of Tax Policy Research, are among a handful of people who actually collect
TAX ART.  For further information, please click here.

  OTPR Newsletter -- January 2015

The January 2015 issue of the OTPR newsletter is now available for download.  Feature stories include the Tax Systems Conference held in Oxford last October, photos from the Alumni Dinner, The Tire Story!!!, Why OTPR Students Recommend NTA, and the OTPR Star Section.  You won't want to miss this edition!    







  National Tax Association Annual Conference and OTPR-Sponsored Short Courses

After the National Tax Association Annual Conference, the Office of Tax Policy Research hosted two 2-hour short courses by two experts in the field.  Brian Knight, Professor of Economics from Brown University, spoke on political economy; Dennis Epple, Thomas Lord University Professor of Economics and Head of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University presented school finance reform.  Both provided excellent overviews, as well as engaging the audience in an informative Q&A session.  They have both shared their slides, which are linked on their topic names.

The OTPR Alumni Dinner at the NTA Annual Conference was another big success.  Over 50 people attended sharing work, ideas, and fun.


  Tax Systems Conference in Oxford, UK

Collaborating with Michael Devereux of the Centre for Business Taxation, Said Business School, University of Oxford, OTPR  co-sponsored a conference on "Tax Systems" in Oxford on October 9-10.  The scientific committee consisted of Michael Devereux (University of Oxford), Henrik Kleven (London School of Economics), Wojciech Kopczuk (Columbia University), and Joel Slemrod (University of Michigan).  Ugo, Steve, and Laura enjoy conversing during the dinner reception.  Details can be found in the OTPR newsletter above.





Professor Joel Slemrod has embarked on a European journey.  Please see the bullets below for details.

  • 09/04/2014 -- Presented the Keynote address at a seminar held in Helsinki, Finland and entitled "Casting Light on the Shadow Economy: A Field Experiment Approach."

  • 09/06/2014 -- Presented at a conference entitled "Inequality -- Measurement, Trends, Impacts and Policies" sponsored by the United Nations University and held in Helsinki, Finland.

  • 09/17/2014 -- Presented the Keynote address at the "1st Annual MaTax Conference" (Mannheim Taxation Science Campus) held at the University of Mannheim, Germany.

  • 09/26/2014 -- Presented the Keynote address at the "26th Annual Conference of the Italian Society of Public Economics" held in Pavia, Italy.

  • 09/29/2014 -- Attended and discussed a paper at a conference entitled "Tax Complexity and Simplification" held at Monash University in Prato, Italy.

  • 10/14/2014 -- Presented a paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at a conference sponsored by the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

  • 10/17/2014 -- Co-organized a conference in Washington, DC titled "Taxation and Migration" hosted by the American Tax Policy Institute.

  • 10/27/2014 -- Presented the Keynote address at the "Models of Tax Administration Conference" held at the University of Barcelona, Spain.

  • 10/29/2014 -- Presented the paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at the Bank of Spain in Madrid, Spain.

  • 11/10/2014 -- Presented the paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at CERGE_EI in Prague, Czech Republic.

  • 11/13/2014 -- Presented the paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at the University of Oslo, Norway.

  • 12/1/2014 -- Presented the paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at the University of Berlin, Germany.

  • 12/12/2014 -- Presented the paper titled "Does Credit-Card Information Reporting Improve Small-Business Tax Compliance" at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



OTPR Faculty and Alumni Attend  2014  IIPF




Professor Joel Slemrod recently spoke at the International Institute of Public Finance's Annual Congress held in Lugano, Switzerland.  OTPR was well represented at IIPF by our affiliated alumni either presenting or co-authoring papers (including one of our current students)!


Claudio Agostini (2003)                                  Jeffrey Hoopes (2013)

David Agrawal (2012)                                     Wojciech Kopczuk (2001)

Sebastien Bradley (2011)                               Eric Ohrn (2014)

Estelle Dauchy (2007)                                     Daniel Reck (Current PhD)

Naomi Feldman (2004)                                   Nathan Seegert (2013)

Makoto Hasegawa (2013)                              Caroline Weber (2012)


More photos of both the Subnational Government Competition and M-TAXI conferences can be found in the July issue of the OTPR newsletter.  In addition, we have started a new feature recognizing achievements of OTPR-affiliated alumni; please be sure to share with us any of your accomplishments.  Lastly, Part 1 of the OTPR Family Tree has been completed listing all of Joel's advisees through 2013.  Part 2 listing Jim's has begun.  Please update Mary at ceccanes@umich.edu with any new additions for 2014.


OTPR's third Michigan Tax Invitational (M-TAXI) was held on June 6 - 7, 2014.  More than 55 current and former OTPR-affiliated alumni convened in Ann Arbor for this 1 1/2-day conference. Alumni from 1997 through 2013 included academics in accounting and economics, as well as members of the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas and the Urban Institute.  Global attendees from Chile and Moscow were also in attendance.

The keynote address was given by Professor Roger Gordon, University of California, San Diego.  He formerly held an appointment in the Department of Economics and collaborated on projects with both both Professor Joel Slemrod and Professor Jim Hines.

Laura Kawano (U.S. Department of the Treasury), Sebastien Bradley (Drexel University), Estelle Dauchy (New Economic School, Moscow), Nate Seegert (University of Utah), and Naomi Feldman (Federal Reserve Board of Governors) are happy to return to Ann Arbor and to reconnect.  

Mentoring, networking, and new collaborations are formed during this conference providing rich opportunities for all attendees!

In April, we teamed up with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Center for Business and Economic Research) and the University of Georgia (Department of Economics) to convene leading academic economists and accountants to study competition in subnational governments and urban areas, and present their findings in an open conference. Competition was studied and presented in three highly complementary modules: (1) fiscal (tax) competition, (2) competition in urban areas, and (3) competition in education.   The conference was held on April 25 and April 26 at the prestigious Howard H. Baker, Jr. Centre for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Among the more than 70 people attending were participants from both American and Canadian academic institutions, as well as representatives from the Multistate Tax Commission, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the Federal Reserve Board.  A number of the papers presented will be published in an upcoming edition of the National Tax Journal.

Richard Musgrave Visiting Professorship

In 2008, the CESifo Group and the International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF) established the Richard Musgrave Visiting Professorship to honor th
e memory of one of Public Finance's greatest scholars.  This annual prize honors an outstanding scholar in the area of Public Finance.  With this award the prize winner is also named a Distinguished CESifo Fellow.  The award winner is chosen through a formal selection process by the President and Vice President of IIPF, together with the President of the CESifo Group.

The 2014 award winner is Professor James R. Hines Jr., Richard A. Musgrave Collegiate Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and L. Hart Wright Collegiate Professor of Law in the Law School at the University of Michigan.  Professor Hines's research focuses largely on taxation, straddling the border between law and economics.  He has made substantial contributions in the areas of commercial law, corporate law, family law, taxation and estate planning.  He has received several teaching awards, including from Harvard and Princeton universities.  He has written a number of books, devoted in particular to international taxation and taxing multinational corporations.  On April 24, 2014, as part of his visiting professorship, he delivered the sixth Richard Musgrave Lecture on the topic of "International Taxation and National Interests."




Taxes are a volatile subject in many conversations. Should one group pay more than another? Why do corporations pay less in taxes than individuals do? Why is the U.S. tax system so complex? In order to answer some of these questions, OTPR is sponsoring a video series entitled “Ask the Tax Professor.” In this series, Professor Joel Slemrod answers these and many other tax questions that Americans are asking.

To learn more, visit our News & Events Page.



Everyone seems to agree that it's a good idea to place tax reform at the heart of a package of policies to stave off the fiscal cliff and address the long-term fiscal imbalance.  But what can it accomplish other than raising revenue without raising tax rates?  One set of lessons comes from the consequences of the last major income tax reform in the United States, the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  In a survey article published in the 1997 Journal of Economic Literature, Alan Auerbach and Joel Slemrod investigated this issue.  Read what they concluded in: 




While policy makers struggle with identifying and enacting the appropriate short-term policy response to the recent financial crisis and economic downturn, both academics and policy makers are examining the causes of the crisis and what lessons this might bring to bear on longer-term policy. With near unanimity attention to both the causes and appropriate long-term policy response has focused on the financial sector, although fiscal policy, including tax policy, has certainly figured prominently in countries’ short-term policy response to the economic contraction. In recent months, though, officials from two international organizations, the IMF and the OECD, have produced reports addressing what aspects of the tax system may have helped cause or exacerbate the crisis, and whether tax policy needs to be re-evaluated in light of the recent events. In this article OTPR Director Joel Slemrod offers some speculations about the lessons for tax policy, and the analysis of tax policy, from the Great Recession. What did we get wrong? What did we underestimate the importance of? What do we need to think more about?