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Big Tax Data and Economic Analysis: Effects of Personal Income Tax Reassessments and Delayed Tax Filing

Derek Messacar

Canadian Public Policy, 2017, vol. 43, issue 3, 261-283

Abstract: Amid an increasing reliance on administrative tax data for economic analysis, the extent to which such data are confounded by income tax reassessments and delayed tax filing requires examination. This article provides novel insight into this issue using population records of initial and delayed Canadian tax filers for 1990-2010. The results show that 3.5 percent to 4.8 percent of tax filers delay filing their returns each year. However, the consequences of this behaviour are generally small and do not bias estimates of income distributions, aggregate statistics, or inequality. These findings inform discourse about the relative merits of using administrative versus survey data in economic analysis.

Date: 2017
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