Doing your tax research

This chapter looks in depth into the research component of tax advocacy. Research is a critical component of your advocacy strategy. It is important to provide credible evidence for your arguments and to persuade your targets and allies of your case on tax.

The chapter provides:

  •  an introduction to the ways in which you can integrate research into the advocacy cycle
  • guidance on core research methods and tools to help you conduct advocacy-focused research on:
    • government tax systems: we walk you through the tools you can use to establish a baseline of your country’s tax regime in order to analyse who bears the burden of a government’s revenue collection
    • the tax contribution of companies: we show you how to evaluate how much your country might be losing as a result of tax dodging by companies, and equip you with the tools you need to analyse how much a particular company is paying in tax and if tax avoidance or evasion is likely
  • seven key steps to conducting a successful research project:
    • Step 1:Defining the problem and the research questions
    • Step 2:Preparing the research and deciding on your methodology
    • Step 3:Planning your research
    • Step 4:Collecting and analysing data
    • Step 5:Controlling the quality of your research (validation)
    • Step 6:Reporting, dissemination and discussion
    • Step 7:Planning your follow-up
  • the following appendices:
    • Appendix 1:An example terms of reference for tax research
    • Appendix 2:The ‘poor person’s tax burden’ survey

The interaction pages at the end of this chapter offer some suggestions for facilitating a group discussion and/or exercises on the main themes raised in the chapter.

Much of the research described in this chapter can be done in-house by well-managed organisations, but robust research requires careful management, resources and time. It is also important to be aware of your limitations. In some cases, it may be better to work with research partners or consultants.