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Oslo Fiscal Studies - A Centre for Empirical Research in Public Finance

Alternative title: Oslo Fiscal Studies - A Centre for Empirical Research in Public Finance

Awarded: NOK 17.5 mill.

OFS has contributed to strengthening teaching and research in public finances at the Department of Economics. The department now offers two popular master's courses in public economics each year. In the autumn of 2021, 47 students have registered for the Empirical Public Economics course. There are also many students who apply the new OFS-database to write their master thesis on topics in public finances in general and tax economics in particular We continue our close collaboration with the research department in the tax administration, where we study how different tax enforcement measures affect long-term compliance. In addition to several projects that estimate the long term effects of audits for personal taxpayers, we have now prepared a project plan, a pre-analysis plan, for a study on the short- and long-term effects of VAT audits. OFS, in collaboration with SSB, are now preparing a larger delivery for the new tax committee.

OFS-II will enable a continued focus on tax analysis and public economics and maintain and cement the momentum started by OFS. The establishment of OFS generated a threefold increase in teaching of public economics at the Department of Economics UiO. OFS-II will enable us to maintain the high level of research-based education in public economics. We will work actively in collaboration with other Nordic institutions to improve PhD training in public economics. A major aim with OFS-II is to co-finance the construction of an extensive public finance relevant micro data set at the Department of Economics UiO. This will further develop the research environment in empirical public economics at the department. OFS-II will combine theoretical and empirical analysis to explore behavioral responses to taxes and transfers; the effect of wealth taxation on the accumulation and allocation of capital; how income taxes affect labour market decisions; the prevalence and nature of tax evasion. We will also study how immigration (ethnic diversity) and tax evasion affect tax morale and the support of a generous welfare state. Empirically, a fundamental challenge to research is to identify responses to changes in taxes and benefits that are causal, and not simply reflecting unobserved heterogeneity. A further challenge is the concealment of data by the very nature of tax evasion. Policy reforms, exogenous shocks, random-assignment-like variations, and combination of data sources are key ingredients in strategies to overcome the problems. To this end the use of large register data sources will be crucial. The research at OFS-II will provide novel insights on policy elasticities that are crucial for understanding the effects of tax and transfer policies, and for designing optimal policies.

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