The digital divide and taxpayer rights - cautionary findings from the United States

John Bevacqua, Victor Renolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Increasingly, tax authorities are digitising taxpayer services as part of a more general trend toward 'e-government'. However, in making this shift, tax authorities must be conscious of the existence of a significant and rapidly evolving 'digital divide' between various demographic groups. Recent research commissioned by the United States National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) highlights the issues, indicating that the digitising of authority services may have especially adverse consequences on vulnerable taxpayer groups - low income taxpayers, seniors, and those with disabilities. These findings, coupled with the Australian Taxation Office commitment to 'digital by default' provision of tax services, give good cause for closer examination of the NTA findings and the potential lessons for Australian tax administrators. This article contains this examination. It also proposes extending and refining the NTA work to ensure that any shift toward increased webbased tax services proceeds only with full appreciation of the potential consequences for vulnerable taxpayers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-736
Number of pages23
JournaleJournal of Tax Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Digital tax services
  • Taxpayer rights
  • Vulnerable taxpayers

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