Tax Filing and Take-Up: Experimental Evidence on Tax Preparation Outreach and EITC Participation

Last registered on January 20, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Tax Filing and Take-Up: Experimental Evidence on Tax Preparation Outreach and EITC Participation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007071
Initial registration date
January 19, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 20, 2021, 9:23 AM EST

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
NYU

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
IRS
PI Affiliation
IRS
PI Affiliation
Stanford Law School

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2019-01-01
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Governments and non-profits devote substantial resources to increasing take-up of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) through educational outreach. We study a different approach -- policies that encourage tax filing -- to determine whether such policies can be an effective way to increase take-up of tax-administered social benefits. Specifically, we study the effect of IRS letters about free tax preparation on filing and EITC take-up using a large field experiment.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Goldin, Jacob et al. 2021. "Tax Filing and Take-Up: Experimental Evidence on Tax Preparation Outreach and EITC Participation." AEA RCT Registry. January 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7071
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In this intervention, the IRS sent letters to randomly assigned prior non-filers detailing free tax preparation methods available to low- and middle-income taxpayers.
Intervention Start Date
2019-03-16
Intervention End Date
2020-12-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We measure the effect of receiving a letter on filing, tax preparation method, EITC claims, and whether the taxpayer claimed a refund in the current and subsequent tax year.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our sample consists of the universe of taxpayers who did not file a tax return in the year prior to the intervention and appeared income-eligible for free tax preparation assistance. Sample members were randomly assigned to receive letters from the IRS describing either the Free File program, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, or both.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Randomization was conducted at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
n/a
Sample size: planned number of observations
Total observations: 1.8 million. Treatment group members: 56,000.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Five treatment letter variants with roughly 11,200 individuals per variant. Remainder of the sample assigned to the control group (no letter).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Stanford University
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-10
IRB Approval Number
39966

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials