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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 had a major impact on teaching and research in public finance at the Department of Economics, UiO. The institute now offers two popular master's courses in public economics each year. In autumn 2022, there are 29 students enrolled in the Empirical Public Economics course. In the spring, we teach a more theoretically oriented master's course in public economics. In addition, OFS has created a database containing administrative micro data to study the effect of public regulation and taxation. Every year, many students use the new OFS database to write assignments within public finance in general and tax finance in particular. In terms of research, OFS has been an important platform for employees at UiO, SSB and Frisch who work on topics related to public finance. Several interesting projects have been initiated from this platform in the last OFS period. In particular, we would like to establish a fruitful collaboration with the analysis department in the Norwegian Tax Agency, which estimates the long-term effects of various measures to ensure that individuals and companies pay the tax they are required to pay. This research group has carried out several studies of how personal taxpayers respond to soft (information) and hard (control) measures. The works have been submitted for evaluation in international journals. We have also drawn up a project plan – a pre-analysis plan – to study the long-term effects of VAT controls. Another important piece of research work at OFS has been a report we have prepared for the tax committee (Perspectives for the future tax and duty system). In this report, we combine theory with empirical results that measure how households respond to tax changes and to changes in unemployment income. We can then estimate both revenue and efficiency effects by taxing labor income.

Den siste perioden med OFS (01.08.2017 - 31.07.2022) har gjort det mulig for de involverte miljøene, Økonomisk institutt ved UiO, Frisch senteret og SSB, å opprettholde et sterkt fokus på forskning og undervisning innenfor offentlig økonomi og skatteanalyse. Et sterkt forskningsmiljø har resultert i mange analyser av det norske skattesystemet. Mange er allerede publisert og flere er undervegs i anerkjente internasjonale tidsskrift. Senteret har også vært viktig for deltagelse i det offentlige ordskiftet om skatt og skattepolitikk. For eksempel har OFS-medarbeidere deltatt i diskusjonen omkring grunnrenteskatt i havbruksnæringen (som er et aktuelt tema i skrivende stund). I tillegg har vi levert en grundig analyse av effektene av inntektsskatten til det nye skatteutvalget. Når det gjelder forskningsmessig infrastruktur har OFS gjort det mulig å knytte sterkere bånd og mer interaksjon mellom de ulike forskningsmiljøene. Det etablerte samarbeidet med Skatteetaten har resultert i mange arbeider og det er planer om å fortsette i årene fremover. Vi har også etablert en database som er spesielt tilrettelagt for skatteanalyse og som har blitt brukt av studenter og ansatte. Dette er infrastruktur som har blitt takket være senteret og som kommer til bli brukt i årene fremover. Vi er svært fornøyde med at vi i hele perioden har undervist to kurs i offentlig økonomi ved Økonomisk Institutt. Fokuset på skatteøkonomi har resultert i at mange studenter har skrevet masteroppgaver innenfor skatteøkonomiske problemstillinger. Senterets to phd studenter er ferdig utdannede, en har disputert og den andre vil snart disputere. Førstemann (Kristoffer Berg) har fått jobb ved Universitet i Oxford og fikk Kongens gullmedalje for sitt arbeid.

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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