Information on Tax Refunds & Tax-filing Decisions

Last registered on January 28, 2014


Trial Information

General Information

Information on Tax Refunds & Tax-filing Decisions
First published
January 28, 2014, 11:26 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Teachers College, Columbia University
PI Affiliation
University of Texas at Austin

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The United States federal income tax code provides tax benefits for low-income households. Nonetheless, many low-income households do not file taxes and are not able to receive benefits that they are eligible for. In this project, we test the hypothesis that providing information on the benefits from filing a tax return can increase tax filing amongst low-income households. The research is based on a mailing experiment conducted in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service. In the experiment, nonfilers who did not file taxes in Tax Year 2011 will be identified, and some nonfilers will be randomly selected to receive information on the benefits of filing tax returns. The analysis will examine how information on the tax code affects filing amended returns for Tax Years 2011 and 2012 and filing new returns for Tax Year 2013. This RCT will be implemented in the Fall of 2013, with outcome data becoming available by late Fall of 2014.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bergman, Peter, Jeff Denning and Dayanand Manoli. 2014. "Information on Tax Refunds & Tax-filing Decisions." AEA RCT Registry. January 28.
Former Citation
Bergman, Peter, Jeff Denning and Dayanand Manoli. 2014. "Information on Tax Refunds & Tax-filing Decisions." AEA RCT Registry. January 28.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Probability of filing a late tax return for Tax Year 2011, 2012, 2013.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
These later tax years are particularly important to the IRS as it is important to determine if the notices can persistently improve tax-filing behavior.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Experimental Design Details
The IRS has identified a database of nonfilers for Tax Year 2011. These individuals were issued a W2 or 1099, but did not file taxes in this year. Once the sample of nonfilers has been identified, we will randomize nonfilers into a treatment group or a control group. The randomization will be stratified based on variables from the tax-filing histories (e.g. having filed a return in any previous year or not) and sources of income (having a W2 versus having a 1099 for self-employment income). The treatment group will receive a one-page notice and the control group will not receive this notice.
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Approximately 200,000 nonfilers
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 200,000 nonfilers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately 100,000 treatment and 100,000 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Teachers College, Columbia University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials