Blockchain Initiatives for Tax Administration


A thriving body of literature discusses various legal issues related to blockchain. This literature often conflates the discussion about blockchain with cryptocurrency. But blockchain is not the same as cryptocurrency. Defined as a decentralized, immutable, peer-to-peer ledger technology, blockchain is a newly emerging data management system. The private sector and the public sector have all begun utilizing blockchain. Since more data is being processed remotely, and thus digitally, the evolution of blockchain is gaining stronger momentum.

While scholarship on blockchain is growing, none of the current scholarship has considered the impact of blockchain on the tax sector. This Article extends the study of blockchain to tax administration, evaluates the feasibility of incorporating blockchain within existing tax administrations, and provides policymakers with criteria to consider and some recommended designs for blockchain. Blockchain can enhance the efficiency and transparency of tax administration through its ability to deliver reliable, real time information from many sources to
a large audience. Further, a well-designed private consortium blockchain, evolved from the classic public blockchain, may effectively protect taxpayers’ information. Potential areas that blockchain could enhance are payroll and withholding taxes, value added taxes, transfer pricing, and the sharing of information between federal, state, and local governments as well as foreign countries.

This Article offers normative considerations for policymakers deliberating using blockchain initiatives for tax administration, such as the timeline, standardization, integration with other
systems, limitations, and accompanying legislation to regulate the government and taxpayers’ rights and privacy. Those implications may resonate with a broader audience beyond tax policymakers.


About the Author

Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law