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Publication is near: Anthropology and Tax

Robin Smith, April 18, 2024

Sometimes a photo is worth even more than one thousand words, and this is one instance!

Johanna Mugler, Miranda Sheild Johansson, and Robin Smith, aka the editors of Anthropology and Tax: Ethnographies of Fiscal Relations, are looking forward to announcing our book's publication with Cambridge University Press later this year.

Our edited volume has beautifully written chapters by passionate anthropologists who have poured great attention and care into their respective contributions.

Matti Eräsaari is one of them. Despite being on research leave in Fiji for his ERC project, Properties of Units and Standards, he climbed to great heights to reach the best internet connection in Naloto village to send us his final edits -- and sent us photographic evidence, to boot.

The publishing process is a finicky one, where long spans of silence are punctuated by emails asking for short turn arounds. This means that requests to edit one's work inevitably appeared in some in-boxes at inopportune moments.

Despite this occasional tricky timing, everyone on the project has sought to keep the project on track to meet the ultimate publishing date of July 2024 -- just in time for EASA, where we hope our volume will be prominently displayed!

So, as we finalize every last sentence, we just wanted to thank everyone for being so patient and gracious along the road to creating this pathbreaking volume.

And for sending us some extra reasons to laugh along the way.

More soon!

Workshop: Fractures in Economic Anthropology

Robin Smith and Charles Dolph, April 18, 2024


Robin Smith

Copenhagen Business School

Charles Dolph

University College London


Isabel Crowhurst

University of Essex

Nicolette Makovicky

University of Oxford

Johanna Mugler

University of Bern

Marija Norkunaite

Vilnius University

Gayatri Sahgal

University of Pennsylvania

Robin Smith and Charles Dolph convened an anthropology of tax workshop, 15-16 April 2024.

Dr Dolph is a researcher on the UKRI Future Leaders project, The Sociality of Tax: A Multiperspective Study of FIscal Relations (SocTax) led by Miranda Sheild Johansson.

Dr Smith's Marie Curie Research Fellowship is Tax Evasion for Market Control: Predatory Economies in Practice (AnthroTax).

Their projects sought to bring some of our network of researchers together to share works in progress and contribute to thinking more broadly on the role of the anthropology of tax in the discipline and beyond.

So, with spring awakening across Europe, we thought to kick off the season with a small workshop to support one another develop our current writing projects.

Workshop Program

April 15

Isabel Crowhurst, along with co-authors Alexandra Oliveir and Milena Chimienti, shared their ongoing writing on the myriad issues around taxing sexual labor in Europe.

Nicolette Makovicky circulated a piece about Slovak craft and creativity and its economic role in village life.

Marija Norkunaite presented a multi-sited ethnography of the nexus of taxation and national identity in the Baltics.

April 16

Johanna Mugler shared reflections on doing ethnographic research amongst international tax experts.

Charles Dolph circulated a piece about contemporary Bolivian tax politics.

Gayatri Sahgal presented her work on the political economy of taxing Somalian utility companies.

Robin Smith shared her work on debt relations between Istrian family businesses.

Thank you to everyone for participating!

AAA Panel: Tax transformations: Fiscal technologies of transfer, categorization, and conversion

Miranda Sheild Johansson, November 30, 2023

Organiser: Miranda Sheild Johansson

University College London

Chair: Horacio Ortiz

East China Normal University, Researcher at CNRS

Discussant: Justin Richland

University of California, Berkley


The panel focused on the relationship between tax and transformation. The papers in the panel approached tax through looking at legal systems, colonialism, ideology, history, categories and social relationships.

Bringing together ethnographic data from India, Fiji, Bolivia, Alaska, and Guinea, the panel interrogated multiple things that taxes do in the world.

At a busy conference we had a productive and fun time together as tax enthusiasts. We kick started our morning panel with a tax soundtrack, playing the Beatles’ ‘Taxman’, Rihanna’s ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, Johnny Cash’s ‘After Taxes’ and more.

A chilly Toronto also offered up bright sunshine and plenty of fantastic food.

Long abstract: Taxation is a transfer of resources and a way to assign meaning and value, as well as to categorize. Fiscal systems convert both the value and essence of that which is transferred along with the parties involved in the transfers. For instance, surplus value of labour may be transformed into infrastructural investment, or public revenues into debt repayment, while taxpaying citizens may become benefit recipients, auditors of government expenditure, or subjects of fiscal austerity.

Likewise, fiscal systems produce legal and social categories that have ramifications throughout society, such as property, residency, and legal labour.

Building on analyses of the fiscal politics of converting state debts into objects of financial speculation (Bear 2015; Roitman 2005); transformations of class and citizenship via fiscal technologies (Sheild Johansson 2022); transparency projects enabled by taxation and attendant value transfers (Dotson 2014; Willmott 2020), and moral debates over practices and imaginaries of tax systems (Makovicky and Smith 2020; Willmott 2022), this panel aims to bring together ethnographic data and analytical insights of taxation to ask: how do fiscal technologies enable or disable transformation of people, values, and societies?

And how are fiscal systems implicated in historical, present, and potential political shifts and matters of justice?

In line with this year’s theme of “transitions'' and the productive in-betweenness conjured by the prefix “trans,” our panel engages with taxation, and fiscal flows more broadly, as generative of imaginaries and practices of transformation, through transfers, categorization, and conversion.

The papers in the panel explicitly deal with these questions by exploring, for instance, the way that tax categories of charitable status shape political dissent in India; or how taxpayer subjectivity allows for regional and racialised grievances in Bolivia, and produces individualised relations of care in Sweden; the practices through which tax arbitrage produces national and international notions of redistributive justice; and how colonial tax impositions in Fiji produced and converted measures of value, while in Alaska they transformed rurality and indigeneity through fiscal categorisation.


Charitable Purpose as a Political, Regulatory Frame in India

Erica Bornstein, University of Oregon

Fiscal grievances: taxes, education, and race in the forging of Bolivian regionalism

Charles Dolph, University College London

Tax Units as World-Making (Fiji)

Matti Eräsaari, University of Helsinki

Tax Arbitrage and Planetary Justice: Political Visions of State Territory in Guinean Mining Agreement Negotiations 

Gustav Kalm, Columbia

Shaping care and debt through taxes: The individualisation of fiscal subjectivity in Sweden

Miranda Sheild Johansson, University College London

Remote Yet Colonized: Rurality, Indigeneity, and the Evolving Functions of the Alaska Net Income Tax, 1949 – 1980

Maximilien Zahnd, University College London and University of Sussex

Featured publication: Beyond the Social Contract: An Anthropology of Tax

Nicolette Makovicky & Robin Smith, September 27, 2023

Makovicky, N. & R. Smith (eds.) 2023. Beyond the Social Contract: An Anthropology of Tax. Oxford: Berghahn.

This book brings together a new generation of leading scholars of the anthropology of tax. 

Our contributors challenge conventional wisdom around social-contract thinking, bringing insights into public debates and understandings of fiscal systems and the moralities, practices, and imaginaries they embody. 

They take taxation as a lens through which to explore the nature of citizenship, personal freedom, and moral and economic value. 

With rich, ethnographically grounded accounts, they introduce us to new concepts like the fiscal commons and show us how spaces of fiscal sovereignty may exist outside or parallel to the state in myriad forms, from timebanks to religious communities.

From an initial idea of 'the monopoly boardgame', the book cover grew into a beautiful piece where each game square or card references an author's chapter.

Due to formatting, not everyone is represented in the final product, but we're very pleased with the result!

The editors would like to thank Hanna Stalenhoef for her care in interpreting our random ideas into something so lovely and original, and for the time and effort it took to create it.

Featured publication: Ethnographic interventions and thought paradigms at a governmental revenue service

Lotta Björklund Larsen, July 24, 2023

What role can ethnography play in assessing risks with tax collection? When many tax administrations aim to understand people and be seen as legitimate in society, one would think it is an important role.

Yet ethnography can also reveal insights from risk assessments that do not play out well with existing legitimacy strategies.

This article addresses the rise and fall of ethnography as a methodology at the Swedish Tax Agency based on following a risk assessment project for three years.

The Agency is an interesting institution to study as it is one of the most revered public bureaucracies in the country, despite having to collect one of the highest amounts of income taxes inthe world.

Strategies to increase taxpayer compliance and tax collector legitimacy follow theories and methods applied in research but are also limited to budgets and organizational structures.

This article suggests that three sets of ‘thought paradigms’ existed at the Agency: legality, quantification and para-ethnography.

When insights from these clashed, the Agency’s strategies for legitimacy were challenged and even threatened.

To the ethnographer’s chagrin, the Agency’s initial interest in ethnographic methods was instead quelled when the result of this risk assessment project was presented.

Featured publication: Rethinking redistribution and reciprocity through the lens of taxation

Lotta Björklund Larsen, Feb. 11, 2023

Anthropologists Lotta Björklund LarsenAndreas Streinzer, and Sylvia Terpe have recently published a Special Section in the journal of Economic Anthropology:

2023. Rethinking redistribution and reciprocity through the lens of taxation, Economic Anthropology 10(1).

Article titles:

Game of tax: Rethinking the relationship between redistribution and reciprocity through a Georgian tax lottery. By

Lotta Björklund Larsen

Distributed fiscal relations and their imaginaries: Metaphors of redistribution and reciprocity in struggles about distributive justice in Austria. By Andreas Streinzer

Productivist fiscal deservingness: Entangled understandings of reciprocity and redistribution among German business owners. By Andreas Streinzer and Sylvia Terpe.


These three articles illustrate a few examples of taxation's many forms and functions in society. The ethnographies from Austria, Georgia, and Germany address taxation's reciprocal and redistributive qualities. Analyzing taxation— whether in the form of discourses, perceptions, or actions — as taxpayers' relation to the state allows us to rethink the foundational concepts in economic anthropology of reciprocity and redistribution but also highlights the tensions between these two “forms of integration” (Polanyi, 1957, 251). For Polanyi, reciprocity and redistribution were both descriptive and evaluative concepts, and in modern societies, both seem subordinated to the principle of market exchange.

Yet hardly any transaction within the modern state takes place without the state laying claim to a share in the form of tax (even the challenge of the platform economy is now being addressed). The state collects income tax; VAT; compulsory pension fund contributions; property taxes; employers' insurance contributions; and taxes on capital gains, inheritance, housesales, and so forth in ingenious and opaque manners.

These revenues are redistributed in the form of public infrastructure and welfare services but also directly to households and their members through child allowances, pensions, educational benefits, housing subsidies, and numerous other payments and services.

However, the precise configurations and entitlement claims in this redistribution remain contested and are the subject of political and ideological struggle. But evident is that redistribution in the abstract is never enough to make taxpayers comply, and tax researchers across disciplines underscore that taxpayers expect something tangible in return.

This seemingly universal complaint, that one has paid a lot and received too little in return, is an upended illustration of Mauss's argument that giving and receiving must be continuously balanced. People must be able to “give to each other without sacrificing themselves to the other” (Mauss, [1925] 2016, 197). No balance can be struck; the citizen qua taxpayer can never “call it quits” with the state but needs to feel assured that their tax payments will pay off in the long run, for themselves and for a society worth living in.

An important anthropological task is to tease out new types of social interactions when redistribution and reciprocity take new forms (Widlok, 2013). Studying contemporary taxation from an anthropological perspective invites us to rethink how reciprocity and redistribution are entangled—regardless whether we engage with wealth tax discursively, tax lotteries retrospectively, or business owners' narratives about everyday work.

Andreas Streinzer and Sylvia Terpe's analysis of German business owners' demand for reciprocity in taxation shows its elusive character. Reciprocity can thus both enable solidary exchanges for the benefit of those who need help in a community and also be articulated as a demand that either justifies or questions asymmetrical relationships and redistributions favoring group interests. These articulations underline a continuous bargaining over reciprocity but are also intrinsically tied to the capitalist idea that “hard work pays off.”

In the Austrian debate over a wealth tax, Andreas Streinzer shows other relations between these concepts. Here reciprocity is used tactically to argue why the wealthy have contributed either too little or too much in relation to the generally shared idea of taxation's redistributive beneficiaries. Reciprocity can thus be used to argue for more contributions by the wealthy through solidary redistribution or less through favorist redistribution.

Lotta Björklund Larsen's analysis of the Georgian tax lottery illustrates people's wish for societal reciprocity—that taxes paid shouldbe redistributed for the benefit of all citizens. But this was not a lottery but rather a badly disguised attempt to make vendors of all sorts register all commercial exchanges. Citizens complained that new forms of taxation undermine traditional, informal forms of reciprocal integration that have evolved outside the state. The tax lottery thus reinforced people's distrust in the state's public administration and underlined their feeling as subjects for exploitation.

If broken reciprocity is one cause of complaint, another lies in disappointed ideals of justice. The three ethnographic examples suggest that particularist forms of redistribution have a corrosive effect on cohesion and trust or, as the authors formulate it, the reciprocal integration of society.

Redistributive tax policies to promote solidarity depend on the degree of reciprocal integration. The challenge for policymakers is how to graft the deeper objective of reciprocal integration onto the more immediate need to balance revenues and expenditure. Welfare states usually institutionalize significant solidary redistribution via high marginal tax rates on individual incomes.

Both the German business owners and the Austrian high earners feel they contribute a lot, and they expect reciprocation, if not in subsidies and welfare benefits, then at least with the intangible benefit of belonging to a society that they find worthliving in. The latter is certainly an aim for Georgians who are still waiting for their state to show its good intentions, provide welfare, and treat its citizens equitably.

Reciprocal integration thus fails when large numbers of citizens perceive redistribution to be particularist, as falling short of their ideas of justice. Taxation is so much more than a relationship between governments and citizens. Studying taxation from an anthropological perspective allows us to engage with contemporary power struggles at the nexus of markets, states, and people.

These three articles are just a small appetizer of the growing interest in approaching tax as an anthropological object and field.

Featured publication: Migrants and taxes

Dora-Olivia Vicol and Nicolette Makovicky, Sept. 2, 2022

Anthropologists Olivia Vicol and Nicolette Makovicky collaborated to produce this policy paper to exchange knowledge about how migrants understand the UK tax system, how Covid impacted their ability to navigate it, and how they negotiate with their employers via their taxpayer status.

Dr Vicol founded the Work Rights Centre, whose mission is to support migrants and disadvantaged Britons to access employment justice, and improve their social mobility. To this end, every week in London and Manchester they run a free and multilingual advice clinic, extending advice and support to those who need it most.

Migrants and taxes: why fiscal inclusion matters

How do migrants in the UK understand and navigate the tax system?

What barriers exist when it comes to engaging with it?

And why is fiscal inclusion so fundamentally important?

These were some of the questions posed by the ‘Taxing Migrants’ project run by Olivia Vicol and Nicolette Makovicky in association with the front-line advisors from the Work Rights Centre in London and the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

Why was this project carried out?

Tax and migration are profoundly interlinked in contemporary British society.

The fiscal balance is often used to distinguish between ‘good migrants’, welcomed for their ability to contribute fiscally, and those castigated for ‘scrounging’.

Tax payments are also part of an everyday infrastructure of citizenship.

Paying tax and national insurance contributions is the gateway to accessing benefits and securing a pension.

In the post-Brexit context, a record of tax contributions is the simplest way for EEA citizens and their family members to demonstrate residence, and secure status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

What were our findings? 

The project found that:

  • While the UK Government has taken a digital first approach in its provision of public services, barriers of English, IT literacy, and differences in tax cultures have left many migrants unable to navigate the UK’s tax system independently.
  • The lack of professional support, coupled with the urgency of securing EUSS status before the 30 June 2021 deadline, created a perfect storm where the fiscally excluded were pushed into the arms of for-profit consultants.

Relying on an unregulated industry of self-styled, for-profit accountants who offer advice with little accountability, migrants are vulnerable to data and identity theft, mis-selling, and fraud.

How can we increase migrants’ fiscal inclusion?

While more research is needed to understand migrants’ fiscal inclusion, several recommendations emerged from this project. We recommend that policymakers:

  1. Start a HMRC vulnerable user group, to learn from third sector advisers.
  2. Institute a HMRC line for charity advisers, to save time and facilitate information sharing.
  3. Treat charities as partners, not contractors, to tackle the problem of fiscal exclusion at scale.
  4. Reach out to migrants with information on their rights as consumers of financial and tax advice, and provide clear means to report bad advice.

Ultimately, the ‘Migrants and Taxes’ report demonstrates that fiscal inclusion poses a significant challenge to migrants, their advisers, and the government alike.

And while this study was one of the first to examine the concept of fiscal inclusion, it should certainly not be the last.

You can read the full report by clicking on the button below:

Featured tax project: VAT Fraud... in the EU

Robin Smith, Feb. 24, 2022

This multi-year, comparative project is led by Dr Constantino Grasso at Manchester Law School and co-investigator Dr Lorenzo Pasculli at Coventry Law School.

It has a core research team at the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity at Coventry University and Manchester Metropolitan University.

The project investigates tax fraud in Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK.

"VIRTEU aims at exploring the interconnections between tax crimes and corruption so as to unravel the intimate relationships that exist between fraudulent and corrupt practices in the area of taxation."

It involves those with diverse backgrounds including legal, socio-economic, historical, forensic accounting, criminology, and psychology.

Project goals

The researchers explore the interconnections between tax crimes and corruption, focusing specifically on VAT fraud because of how centrally it threatens the EU's financial interests.

Corruption pervades the tax administration of several European countries, and some are more vulnerable than others to specific types of corruption - either at a low level (e.g., avoiding import duties) or the highest echelons (e.g., serving the interests of senior government officials or business owners).

The scholars of VIRTEU are working to identify such vulnerabilities at both institutional and sectoral levels.

One major area of focus is the crucial role of whistleblowers and how to protect and impower their efforts.

Another area of focus is that of sanctions. Researchers are analyzing the costs and benefits related to a host of sanctions available to those combating tax crimes, and particularly the use of settlement procedures.

They endevor to provide EU member states with actionable recommendations that will encourage cross-border cooperation in transnational tax crime.


VIRTEU has created an impressive, comprehensive website that will be of great use to researchers, including videos of roundtable discussions, a series of reports written by research team members, and other resources.

News: Our network returns to Sweden

Miranda Sheild Johansson, Jan. 20, 2022

Workshop: Becoming taxpayers: Establishing the anthropology of tax (II)

January 2022

Sigtuna, Sweden

Finally, after multiple cancelled attempts, part two of Becoming taxpayers: Establishing the anthropology of tax has taken place. Many of the members of The Anthropology of Tax Network met for four days in January 2022 at Kämpasten, Sigtuna in Sweden to present research, work on ongoing collaborations, and make new plans.

There was also time for walks in the snow-covered pine forest and dips in the ice-covered lake after visits to the sauna.

The event was generously funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences) and Stockholm University.

Organised by Lotta Björklund Larsen and Nicolette Makovicky, the event was hybrid and brought together Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar, Lotta Björklund Larsen, Karen Boll, Nimmo Elmi, Matti Eräsaari, Johan Nilsson, Marija Norkunaite, Nicolette Makovicky, and Miranda Sheild Johansson in person, and Johanna Mugler and Robin Smith, virtually.

The event also welcomed an illustrator with the aim of producing some more creative outputs for public consumption.

For this workshop, many participants received feedback on their contribution to the forthcoming volume Anthropology and Tax: Ethnographies of Fiscal Relations (Cambridge University Press, editors: Johanna Mugler, Miranda Sheild Johansson, and Robin Smith), and others presented their works in progress for other projects.

Discussion across the days focused on, among other things, the digitalisation of tax and the implementations of management standards in fiscal systems.

Karen Boll’s paper Malleable internal controls, as well the effects on this on equity and gender, e.g. Nimmo Elmi’s paper The gender divide in the digitalization of Tax in Kenya, brought out key themes here.

The conversations also returned to questions of value, in particular during Matti Eräsaari’s paper Measures of value in Fiji and Johan Nilsson’s paper Influencer marketing and the ‘gifted’ product: framing value in ambiguous exchange.

The participants all came away with new insights, some concrete plans for how to further develop our Anthropology of Tax Network, and ideas for how to make sure our work on tax reaches a broad and diverse audience.

Featured publication: Tax compliance dancing

Lotta Björklund Larsen & Benedicte Brøgger, Nov. 26, 2021 

Lotta Björklund Larsen and Benedicte Brøgger have published an article on the tax compliance of multinational corporations for the Journal of Legal Anthropology.

Björklund Larsen, Lotta & Benedicte Brøgger. 2021. Tax compliance dancing: The importance of time and space in taxing multinational corporations. Journal of Legal Anthropology 5(1), 85-109.


In a special issue on compliance in the Journal of Legal Anthropology edited by Will Rollason and Eric Hirsch,  Benedicte Brøggers and I illustrate how projects made to increase compliance between tax administrations and multinational enterprises (MNEs) can fail if agents do not pay respectful attention to understandings of time and space.

Complying with tax laws, beyond the fiscal aim of contributing revenue to a state, is multifaceted in a globalized world.

Tax administrations struggle to control large MNEs' tax planning, avoidance, and general evasion, whereas MNEs grapple with the problem of having to comply with widely divergent national tax systems.

Addressing such issues, the OECD has promoted increased collaboration in the name of efficiency and certainty with so-called "cooperative compliance projects”.

Yet, increasing compliance is easier said than done. In our article, we draw on Valerie Braithwaite’s notion of tax compliance as a "dance" between tax administrations and taxpayers and illustrate with two "cooperative compliance projects” in Norway and Sweden that had very different outcomes.

We argue that agents need to have mutual understandings of how "when and where” changes – or as we suggest, agree on which dance to dance – if compliance should increase.

Upcoming roundtable: Imagining fiscal futures, AAA

Group announcement, September 25, 2021 

A virtual roundtable about tax will take place at the annual American Anthropological Association (AAA) meeting. 

November 18, 2021

4:15-6PM Eastern Standard Time

This year, the AAA will host a hybrid event, which is wonderful because it means that more people can participate in the roundtable! Non-participants are welcome to contribute to the discussion!


Miranda Sheild Johansson, Organizer

Nicolette Makovicky, Organizer

Johanna Mugler, Chair

Bill Maurer, Chair

Cris Shore, Discussant

Gustav Peebles, Discussant

Lotta Björklund Larsen, presenter

Nathan Coben, presenter

Matti Eräsaari, presenter

Horacio Ortis, presenter

Olly Owen, presenter

Robin Smith, presenter

Dora-Olivia Vicol, presenter

Imagining fiscal futures:

What is an anthropology of tax?

Roundtable abstract

What does an anthropology of tax look like and what are its objects of study? How can it illuminate issues of inequality, race, and gender? How does it allow us to link global flows to local realities? And how can we, as tax anthropologists, act on our responsibility to imagine alternative fiscal futures and engage with wider publics in critical tax conversations?

This roundtable brings together anthropologists working on tax, finance, law, and policy to discuss how an anthropology of tax can be employed as an analytical lens on key contemporary debates. The first of these debates revolves around socio-economic and racial inequalities.

Taxation is, at its core, a political and economic issue: it affects who gets or shares what, when, how, and why. The anthropological study of tax encompasses discussions about citizenship, welfare, informal economies and labor, class, capital, and inequality, and may be extended in useful ways to interrogate these social justice issues.

It encourages us to look at how and where people de-center the state in their fiscal lives and how they organize the financing of public goods beyond the state. The second debate centers on questions of infrastructure and scale.

Anthropological investigations of tax necessarily work on multiple scales, from individual taxpayer subjectivities, to groups coalescing around their cultural and religious practices, or political perceptions of tax.

This also extends to narratives that circulate about the ethical flows of money, through to the relationship between a state and its (non)citizens, and geopolitical regulations of fiscal policy.

Understanding tax and fiscal relations anthropologically therefore involves bringing together many vantage points - a study of both people and systems, from sole traders in the Global South, to the tax norms created by international organizations such as the OECD or IMF.

An anthropology of tax must be both an academic endeavor and a public conversation - it should forward a rigorous analysis of fiscal systems and relations, including the power dynamics they embody and their socio-economic effects, and a discussion about how our societies are built through fiscal policies.

Our aim is to generate an anthropology of tax that is rooted in the experiences of those most marginalized in our communities, as well as interrogate how tax systems are produced at the top, paying attention to the competing political and economic logics that are involved.


Attendance requires both registration for the conference and membership dues to the AAA. There are different rates available according to your physical location, discipline, and income level. Day rates for registration are 50 USD.

Featured anthropology of tax project: The sociality of tax

Miranda Sheild Johansson, September 13, 2021 

Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson has recently been awarded prestigious, multi-year funding from the UK Research & Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship (UKRI) programme for her anthropological research project:

The Sociality of Tax: A Multiperspective Study of Fiscal Relations (SocTax)

Project summary

The project will investigate fiscal regimes in an anthropological fashion, exploring the types of social relations that paying and not paying tax produce.

It does this comparatively and cross-culturally: spanning multiple fieldsites, including neighbourhoods, workplaces, community groups, political interest groups and tax offices, and three fiscal systems—Bolivia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

It will elucidate social consequences that fiscal regimes can have, such as creating relations of belonging and exclusion, cross-generational and community solidarity or antagonism, and producing popularly held beliefs about fairness, wealth creation and productivity.

Dr Sheild Johansson says: “My research explores how fiscal systems shape our relationships and identities, our ideas of who owes whom, and how history and culture in turn shapes tax action.

Working with public institutions and policy groups, the aim is to re-shape academic and popular understandings of what taxes are and do - to democratise fiscal conversations".

Her project commences in March 2022 and is a 4+3 year model.

For more information about the project and the UKRI funding scheme, see the following links:

UCL's UKRI project announcement:

UKRI site:

UKRI fellows announcment, 2021:

Featured publication: Taxation

Lotta Björklund Larsen & Karen Boll, September 8, 2021 

Lotta Björklund Larsen and Karen Boll have published a fantastic and comprehensive review article on the anthropology of tax for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology.

Björklund Larsen, Lotta & Karen Boll. 2021. Taxation. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology.

Abstract exerpt

"Taxation is the collection by a revenue authority of levies, fees, or charges from residents, businesses, or other legal entities deemed taxable pursuant to laws and regulations.

"Taxation affects most people in the world within the confines of a nation, state, or region. Some people claim taxation is theft by the state, others claim that it is a moral action and duty, and a third view is that taxes are expenses that citizens incur in order to make claims on the state. Taxation is thus an area of contestation.

"Taxpayers pay taxes on what they produce or transport, on their salaries and other income, and on their consumption.

"Taxation not only has a fiscal purpose, but can be used for resource allocation within society, for income redistribution, and for leveling economic stability to address issues of unemployment, prices, and economic growth.

"Research on taxation has been conducted in most social sciences. Legal scholars discuss changes to the law, economists emphasize taxation’s economic impact within the constraints of models, the accounting discipline addresses the organization and measurement of taxation, and behavioral economists and psychologists aim to predict human behavior in taxation experiments.

"While this research has extended the knowledge of fiscal practices, taxation has long been in dire need of a critical perspective on its human consequences, its social impact, and how it is culturally shaped. An emerging anthropology of taxation can address these issues."

Event announcement: Enablers of financial crime

Karen Boll, August 3, 2021

Enablers of financial crime

Tax, finance, and society

This event is convened by Yvette Lind at Copenhagen Business School and May Hen-Smith at the University of Cambridge.

They welcome participants to join their workshop series to discuss myriad forms of financial crimes and focus on 'enablers'.

Enablers can be local studies or global systems of finance, development, aid, or political regimes. It can refer to classic anti-money laundering (AML) efforts to compliance regimes or governmental anti-corruption programmes to global anti-corruption efforts.

Enablers can be political systems or professions. They can be those tasked with the disabling of financial crime who lack resources, training, or coordinative reach to affect change.

Enablers can refer to the curbing of illicit financial flows, grey areas of compliance or opaque systems of finance that we have yet to examine more thoroughly. 

Papers will be from scholars in a wide range of disciplines spanning the social sciences.

This workshop series will take place over three weeks (30 August, 6 September, 13 September 2021), with each week specializing in a different aspect of 'enablers'.

Event announcement: Tax culture in business

Lotta Björklund Larsen, June 10, 2021 

At the Global Business Anthropology Summit

Virtual Summit June 14-18, 2021 there is the following super interesting panel.

Tax Culture in Business

Tuesday, 18:00 - 19:30 CET

We will explain how cultural values influence how we think about taxes. How do different (tax) cultures impact business behaviour and community engagement? 

Through business examples, we show manifold aspects of taxation, beyond making financial contributions to community and society. 

We will discuss how our individual and collective tax cultures are changing due to the world-wide increase of exchange relations — goods, services, labor, and ideas. What is the future role of corporate tax in creating sustainable communities?

Featured publication: Taxpayer's playlist

Matti Eräsaari & Anna-Riikka Kaupinnen, April 21, 2021 

Anna-Riikka Kauppinen and Matti Eräsaari wrote a short piece about the unconventional PR methods employed by Finland’s Tax Administration for the CaMP Anthropology blog.

They discuss the Tax Administration’s Spotify playlist, the Tax Whisperer, Tax Meditations, and other mediums deployed by the tax authority to legitimise itself through self-satire.

This may be a strategy that works particularly well in a country like Finland, where the tax authority already enjoys spectacularly high approval ratings. 

But it is also worth asking what makes such tactics necessary in the first place  and why now?

This may have to do with recent changes in the public accountability of Finnish taxes, the authors suggest: the tax authority’s decision to withhold previously public tax records from the national media. 

News: Tax Justice Network nominated for Nobel

Robin Smith, February 20, 2021

The global tax justice movement has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

The Tax Justice Network announced this incredible recognition.

In their public announcement, they write that the nomination letter says, in part:

'The outstanding work of the ICIJ to expose illicit flows, and the mammoth achievement of the GATJ to build national and international pressure for accountability and fair taxation -- warrants attention, recognition, and support'.

In part of their announcement, the TJN's Chief Executive Alex Cobham said:

'Later this month, the UN FACTI Panel will deliver its final report with critical recommendations for the global tax and financial architecture.

Most of these were politically unthinkable until the tax justice mevement put them on the table.

The global pandemic has exposed glaring inequalities and shortfalls in revenues to fund both public health systems and economic protection. The UN and its leading member states should ensure that the panel's recommendations - the fruits of the organisations now deservingly nominated for the Nobel - are delivered with all urgency'.

Featured publication: Tax, the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology

Miranda Sheild Johansson, January 5, 2021 

Miranda Sheild Johansson from University College London has just published an article entry for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology on tax!

Sheild Johansson, Miranda. 2020. Tax. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology.



Paying tax or avoiding tax is part of everyday life across the globe. But what kinds of payments are taxes, and how do fiscal systems shape society? Taxes are often conceived of as a nexus of state-citizen relations and an intrinsic part of a social contract where they are exchanged for political representation and a level of state protection.

But ethnographic evidence demonstrates that separating out taxes from other payments is not straightforward, and the motivations for paying tax, or collecting tax, are far from universal. 

In addition to shaping national and international economies, taxes construct social and political relations which cast citizens and communities in particular roles, such as ‘contributor’ and ‘wealth creator’, or ‘dependant’ and ‘scrounger’.

As such, taxes are political tools that are wielded in processes of governance. 

Yet fiscal systems are also crafted from the bottom up, through taxpayer action and taxpayer logics, and gain meanings from the broader historical and cultural contexts in which they exist. 

In recent years, and in the context of multiple financial, environmental, and health crises across the globe, discussions about how we might build better futures have put the spotlight on taxes as a tool for redistribution.

The logics that drive new tax policies and laws are embedded in specific concepts of tax justice and tax competition, as well as the relation between the sovereign state and the international community.

Tax is a locus of many important themes, both academic and political. Understanding tax is crucial to understanding our societies.

About the Encyclopedia

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (CEA) is a growing open-access teaching and learning resource. Its goal is to facilitate access to scholarship in Social Anthropology for experts and non-experts worldwide.

All entries are written and peer-reviewed by leading academics.

See CEA here:

CfP: SASE 2021 panel: Fiscal relations in a post-Covid world

Lotta Björklund Larsen, Anna-Riikka Kauppinen,

& Miranda Sheild Johansson, January 5, 2021

Do you have a work in progress piece on the anthropology of tax that you would like to present?

Here's your chance!

Lotta Björklund Larsen, Anna-Riikka Kauppinen, & Miranda Sheild Johansson will host a panel at the conference of

SASE, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

3-5 July, 2021

Full papers will be expected to participate

The theme of SASE 2021:

After Covid? Critical Conjunctures and Contingent Pathways of Contemporary Capitalism.

Fiscal relations in a post-Covid world:

The hopes, potencies, and

discontents of tax


The corona pandemic is both a health and economic crisis, among other things, with the World Bank predicting a 5.2% contraction of global GDP in 2020.

In response, fiscal rescue packages have been devised on local, national and international levels with the aim of mitigating the devastating socio-economic impacts.

These rescue packages involve large and often radical new tax proposals, with the OECD recommending a ‘gloves off’ approach where all options should be explored (2020).

Discussions around fiscal policies trigger both hopes and fears about alternative economic futures, fire up discussions about the rights and the capabilities of states to tax, and expose existing narratives about how fiscal flows shape the society and public at large.

Furthermore, current and future fiscal packages capitalize on dependencies between the state, private sector, and taxpayer citizens, generating new kinds of divisions, inequalities and benefactors.

We are in a moment where taxes are seen as a tool for managing the looming economic crisis, which raises questions about what taxes ‘do’, what they should do, and how. 

This mini-conference aims to bring together participants from a wide range of disciplines, involving a broad spectrum of methodological approaches and diverse geographical locations, for the study of fiscal relations in the face of pandemics, and beyond.

How to apply

General information about the event can be found here:

The panel is "TH08"

To submit a paper, you must register with SASE, but this does not require you to join as a member. This action only signs you up to the website in order to submit your paper:

The deadline to submit abstracts is January 16, 2021

The deadline for accepted participants to submit their full paper is June 1, 2021.

CfP: SIEF 2021 panel: Good Ends and Dubious Means

Soumhya Venkatesan and Oliver Owen, November 3, 2020

Do you have a work in progress piece on the anthropology of tax that you would like to present?

Here's your chance!

Soumhya Venkatesan and Oliver Owen will host a panel at the virtual conference of

SIEF, the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore

21-24 June, 2021

There is space for approximately six researchers to present their work, for about 20 minutes each.

Good Ends and Dubious Means:

Rule Breaking and Justification


The relationship between ends and means is one that has long occupied not only philosophers, but also anyone interested in bringing about a certain desired change or with a clear goal in sight. The goals may be large and long-term (e.g. reversing anthropogenic climate change) or much more circumscribed (get Brexit done by shutting down nay-sayers in the UK Parliament).

This panel explores the relationship between ends and means by focusing on rule-breaking. In other words, we ask how rule-breaking is justified as necessary to a project deemed important and worthy.

We invite papers that explore the evaluative and ends-oriented dimensions of rule breaking, whether these ends be focused on large-scale socio-political change, domestic cohesion and reproduction, or individual salvation or this-worldly well-being.

We are interested in individuals’ or groups’ relationships to rules, including the ways in which they posit hierarchies of rules. We are also interested in abstract understandings about rules – how they are placed in relation with abstract ideals such as freedom or sovereignty, and to concrete concerns such as wealth, family, employment, education, religious observance and so on.

We are also interested in rules that almost seem made to be broken, often found in the religious domain but also increasingly in those applying to migrants in some countries, which both prohibit them from working and also from any welfare support.

We hope to build a rich panel that, in exploring the above kinds of questions, opens up ethical aspects of rule-breaking including evaluations, justifications and aporia.

How to apply

Please visit the SIEF website and use their web portal to propose a paper. Do NOT send the abstracts directly to us, because we can only evaluate them and accept them from within their system.

The panel is "Res09" and can be found here:

The deadline is November 26, 2020. Please don't be late because the organizers cannot do anything after the deadline has passed.

Call for proposals: SIEF 2021 panel: Tax Matters

Robin Smith and Nicolette Makovicky, October 30, 2020

Do you have a work in progress piece on the anthropology of tax that you would like to present?

Here's your chance!

Robin Smith and Nicolette Makovicky will host a panel at the virtual conference of

SIEF, the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore

21-24 June, 2021

Miranda Sheild Johansson (UCL) will chair, and Matti Eräsaari (Univ. of Helsinki) will be the discussant.

We have space for six researchers to present their work, for approximately 20 minutes each.

Tax Matters:

Are Rules Made to Be Broken?


This panel investigates the ways that tax matters in society, focusing on the making and breaking of tax rules. We question the assumption that taxation is always just, and challenge contributors to examine how tax rules and their contestation may be produced and enacted beyond the state's realm.

Tax is an inextricable part of life. Tax matters to families, businesses, and states in that it reflects economic and social values. It highlights the inner workings of power, tensions between state and society, and the fault lines between different social, economic, and ethnic groups. Its paper documentation and digital processes create tax matter - the materialization of rules and the social contract.

This panel seeks contributions investigating the myriad ways that tax matters in society, focusing on the making and breaking of tax rules. We question the assumption that taxation is necessarily just, or that ‘breaking’ tax rules is necessarily about compliance. While rules guide taxation, they require citizen consent. People may break the rules of taxation regimes perceived as unjust.

‘Breaking the rules’ when it comes to tax can thus equally reference the state breaking the social contract from the citizen’s perspective.

Indeed, we challenge contributors to examine how tax rules – and their contestation – may be produced and enacted beyond the state’s realm.

Rules are an outcome of social practice, not just policy, and thus tax ‘rules’ are also about what a group of people deems the right way to do something.

Thus, we ask, how does making and breaking tax rules form part of everyday economic, social, or religious life? How are tax rules related to notions of common sense and public secrets? Can we say that ‘rules are made to be broken’ when it comes to tax?

How to apply

Please visit the SIEF website and use their web portal to propose a paper. Do NOT send the abstracts directly to us, because we can only evaluate them and accept them from within their system.

The panel is "Res05" and can be found here:

The deadline is November 26, 2020. Please don't be late because the organizers cannot do anything after the deadline has passed.

Registration open: TARC 8th Annual Conference, 2020

Robin Smith, October 30, 2020 

The 8th Annual Conference of the Tax Administration Research Centre will take place, December 15-17, 2020, online.

From their website:

"The conference paper presentations will cover a broad range of topical issues in tax administration and policy including the analysis from different angles of VAT noncompliance (e.g. the role of Thresholds and Networks), the importance of nudging in improving tax compliance, the legal aspects of tax avoidance and the effectiveness of law enforcement.

The 8th Annual Conference of the Tax Administration Research Centre will take

As always in TARC Annual Conferences, these will be approached from different perspectives and through a multidisciplinary lens."

There will be a special focus on the impact of Covid-19 as well:

"Recent evidence suggests that in some countries, the pandemic has had a disproportionate and significant economic impact on sectors with high female employment, such as hospitality and personal care services.

There is also evidence that developing countries have been affected substantially and will continue to suffer economically. The Annual Conference will explore these issues in two roundtable discussions focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on gender, and the impact on tax and tax administration policies in Africa."

"This year’s Annual Conference will feature three outstanding keynote lectures delivered by prominent academics with significant contributions in their field and a policymaker with considerable experience in tax administration policy making. Professor James Alm is internationally renowned for his work on tax administration and the economics of taxation; Professor Judith Freedman has made a remarkable contribution to the field of taxation law and policy; and Frantisek Imrecze is Executive Secretary at the Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations."

Find more on their website, including links to the conference program and registration on Eventbrite.

Featured publication: Thick claims and thin rights

Robin Smith, October 13, 2020 

Tom Goodfellow and Oliver Owen have just published an article on taxation:

Thick claims and thin rights: Taxation and the construction of analogue property rights in Lagos, Economy & Society 49(3), 406-432.


The importance of tenure security for development and wellbeing is often reduced to questions about how titles can guarantee rights, overlooking the contested and layered nature of property rights themselves.

We use the case of Lagos to analyse property rights as ‘analogue’ rather than ‘digital’ in nature – things that only exist by degree, where a dynamic urban situation renders the distinction between a right and a claim much less clear than conventional approaches suggest.

We argue that property taxation plays important and unanticipated roles in efforts to realize property rights.

To fully understand attempts to construct rights it is necessary to analyse the range of payments, documents, social relations and other strategic moves that people make to thicken property claims in contexts of ‘radical insecurity’.

Related to this, they also published an article in The Conversation in their Arts & Culture section:

Insecurity underpins property rights in Lagos – no matter what class you are

July 29, 2020

Please use the buttons below to read their articles!

Featured publication: The fiscal life of pandemics

Robin Smith, September 16, 2020 

Miranda Sheild Johansson and Anna-Riikka Kauppinen have just published a timely piece on Allegra Lab on the fiscal life of pandemics.

As the corona virus sweeps the world, governments have scrambled to put together fiscal rescue packages. Unprecedented tax cuts, furlough schemes, bailout loans and grants have been rolled out in many countries, all with the aim of mitigating the economic impact of lockdowns.

Important questions arise from the pandemic and the fiscal upheaval it has created: Who can tax whom? Should the EU become a tax collecting institution?

How is an economy stimulated in an equitable fashion? Should VAT cuts be kept by businesses or passed on to customers?

The current fiscal activities and debates shine a light on enduring debates around tax. In this historical moment, where the previously unthinkable has become reality, there is also opportunity to consider alternative fiscal futures.

Special issue: Governing through Taxation

Robin Smith, July 22, 2020 

There's a journal special issue on fiscal practices in African countries to announce!

Oliver Owen edited the journal special issue, Governing through Taxation, for Politique Africaine, Vol. 151, No. 3, 2018.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Tax and Fiscal Practice: Interrogating the Meaning and Use of Formality

By Oliver Owen

Bypass: Informal exceptions to urban land taxation in M'Bour and Kisumu

By James Christopher Mizes and Liza Rose Cirolia

Marginal Taxation Made to Measure: The Political Economy of Natron in Borkou, Chad

By Julien Brachet and Judith Scheele

Gender and the Formal and Informal Systems of Local Public Finance in Sierra Leone

By Vanessa van den Boogaard

Negotiating the Social Service Tax: Contested Revenue Generation in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal, South Sudan

By Martina Santschi

'Going legit': Taxation, Trust, and Attention in Agrarian Rural Nigeria

By Oliver Owen

Special issue announcement

Robin Smith, June  28, 2020

Nicolette Makovicky & Robin Smith are pleased to announce the publication of their journal special issue

Beyond the Social Contract

An Anthropology of Tax

In: Social Analysis: The International Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 64, No. 2

This special issue de-centers tax as an analytic device for making sense of the relationship between the state and citizens, exploring the limits of social contract thinking.

The contributors document ways in which tax acts as a vehicle for discussions about the nature of citizenship, personal freedom, and the constitution of moral and economic value. They also highlight how taxation may be influenced by the existence of spaces of fiscal sovereignty outside or alongside the state in the form of alternative religious and economic communities.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Tax Beyond the Social Contract

By Nicolette Makovicky & Robin Smith


Taxes for Independence: Rejecting a Fiscal Model of Reciprocity in Peri-Urban Bolivia

By Miranda Sheild Johansson


God’s Delivery State: Taxes, Tithes, and a Rightful Return in Urban Ghana

By Anna-Riikka Kauppinen


The Fiscal Commons: Tax Evasion, the State, and Commoning in a Catalonian Cooperative

By Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar


Contesting the Social Contract: Tax Reform and Economic Governance in Istria, Croatia

By Robin Smith


Into and Out of Citizenship, through Personal Tax Payments: Romanian Migrants’ Leveraging of British Self-Employment

By Dora-Olivia Vicol


The Worth of the While: Time and Taxes in a Finnish Timebank

By Matti Eräsaari


Afterword: Putting Together the Anthropology of Tax and the Anthropology of Ethics

By Soumhya Venkatesan


Adding to this story in October 2020, we have learned from the publisher that this special issue is "among our most popular recent content", with them adding that this is "such a testament to your work, and the authors' as well". Apparently, online views of our special issue is off the charts!

Excerpt from the Introduction:

"What brings the contributions to this special issue together is a focus on how citizens interpret and respond to state efforts to instill fiscal discipline.

Our authors problematize state-society relations through the prism of taxes, each one placing varying emphasis on issues of citizenship, ethics, and redistributive justice.

They additionally introduce entirely new considerations to the study of taxes: issues of cultural memory, gender, migration, and religion, and questions of value, commensurability, and form.

Overturning the notion that nothing is certain “except death and taxes”, they show how people often desire to pay tax in order to assert their rights to citizenship and property, but struggle to do so.

Tracing ongoing debates about the state’s role in the production of public and private goods, they demonstrate how tax as a cultural form is ethically and materially entangled with notions of economic agency and moral personhood.

They show how taxes form part of a much wider conceptual universe of transfers and exchanges including tithes and membership dues, and problematize who and what is taxable, raising questions of commensurability and value.

They show how citizens contest the ways in which practices of taxation establish equivalences between labor, money, and time, and attempt to establish alternative hierarchies of value which may be seen to challenge the fiscal monopoly of the state."

We hope you enjoy the read!

Stockholm tax conference, 2019

Robin Smith, April 16, 2020

Lotta Björklund Larsen and Nicolette Makovicky organized the first in a series of workshops in Stockholm on Becoming taxpayers: Establishing the anthropology of tax. Members of our network met in October 2019 for four days to present our research and gain valuable feedback from one another.

The event was generously funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences) and Stockholm University.

The goals of the workshop were to strengthen the anthropology of tax as a field of study and bring an anthropological perspective into contemporary tax debates. We did so by having a series of engaging presentations by attendees and ample time for fruitful discussion over meals and collective brainstorming sessions, creating new friendships and exciting new collaborative projects to propel the network forward.

Lynne Oats, Nina E. Olson, and Janet Roitman were discussants. Presenters were: Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar, Lotta Björklund Larsen, Karen Boll, Nimmo Elmi, Matti Eräsaari, Anna-Riikka Kauppinen, Nicolette Makovicky, Johanna Mugler, Oliver Owen, Miranda Sheild Johansson, Robin Smith, Soumhya Venkatesan, and Kyle Willmott.

Presentations spurred wide-ranging discussions on tax in society. On our first day of meetings, we spoke about the ethics of debt and the Pentecostal ethic of taxation and indebtedness, and how taxes and tithes appear in both Christian and non-Christian traditions. We pondered why it is that people feel the need to explain why it is a right not to pay tax. A major point of focus was contrasting the colonial with the pre- and post-colonial modes of taxation, and the embedded values in each era.

Digitalization was an issue often raised in the context of the convoluted nature of ‘streamlining’ tax, how there was a need for ‘digital equity’, and how this interfaces with mobile money platforms in developing economies.

Citizenship came up in myriad contexts to problematize how tax quantifies the relationship between citizens and their state.

Janet Roitman raised a number of intriguing questions at the outset of her keynote. Taxation raises the question of the targets of economic regulation; how they are defined, and how they are delimited. How does taxation relate to forms of valuation and value production?

We pondered the linkages between taxation and the right to audit. We discussed how elites tend not to pay tax and the ways they avoid becoming tax subjects. Drawing on our respective ethnographic research, we debated how the idea of the social contract varies across the world and the different ways it resonates in societies. Conversation turned to corruption and how this complicates peoples’ perceptions of the value of taxation, how taxation’s enforcers are viewed, and how these complicate social trust in institutions.

Collaborations in progress

Robin Smith, April 16, 2020

Our anthropology of tax research network includes researchers who have published extensively on taxation's role in society.

See our Researcher page for member profiles that includes links to their full publications lists and faculty profiles.

See our Resources page for some of their publications in our ongoing bibliography. This list includes both tax related anthropological and wider social science works.

Here is a list of some ongoing projects by our network's members.

An Anthropology of Tax co-edited book volume (under discussions with an academic press) by Johanna Mugler, Miranda Sheild Johansson, and Robin Smith. It will include approximately twelve members from our tax research network!

Wenner-Gren Foundation funding for a tax workshop to take place in the UK in 2021. This funding was awarded to Miranda Sheild Johansson and Soumhya Venkatesan, who are coordinating this event.

There are at least two other journal special issues centering on tax's role in society to be published in the next 18 months organized by and including members of our tax group!

Stay tuned for details!

Some of us are part of a discussion forum to be published in an anthropology journal later this year. Check this site for details!

Various constellations of researchers are still putting in applications to academic conferences for the year to come. Any calls for papers will be announced here on the site!

If you have tax research news to share of your own, contact me and it can go up on this space!

Happy collaborating!