Institute for Fiscal Studies

Institute for Fiscal Studies

The Institute for Fiscal Studies is a UK economic research institute. It specialises in research on UK taxation and public policy. It is politically independent and produces both academic and policy related findings.

Areas of research covered include public finance and spending, pensions and saving, company taxation, consumer behaviour and poverty and inequality.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has hosted an ESRC research centre since 1991. Following an open competition for research funding, the ESRC decided to renew Centre funding from April 2005 for a period of five years.

The [ Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy] (CPP) carries out core analytical research that will allow informed microeconomic analysis of major public policy issues, from productivity growth to poverty reduction, and from promoting employment to ensuring sound public finances. Its focus is on the careful modelling of individual, household and firm behaviour, combining cutting-edge empirical analysis with detailed understanding of policy options and implementation.

The Centre is directed by Professor Richard Blundell and co-directors, Professor Orazio Attanasio, Dr Steve Bond, Dr Rachel Griffith, Professor Costas Meghir and Robert Chote. The research takes place within the team-based environment at IFS, providing advanced training for young researchers. The Centre acts as a national resource for analysis of emerging policy challenges and draws on extensive collaboration with leading researchers in the UK, Europe, North America and the developing world. It has an established record of effective dissemination to and interaction with policymakers, civil society, the business community, academics and the general public - with an aim to seek to broaden and strengthen those links.

Complementing the policy-based research, IFS also hosts a centre, the [ Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice ] (cemmap), for the development of evaluation methodology and other econometric and statistical methods. cemmap, which builds on the strengths developed at the ESRC Centre, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will be funded by the ESRC from 2007. This has further strengthened IFS's commitment to evidence-based policy and to the development of suitable research methods in parallel with our empirical analysis.

Although most of the research is UK based, recent work also looks at international development policies, for instance at education and nutrition programmes in Colombia. [ Centre for the Evaluation of Development Studies]

Aims of the IFS

The Institutes' aim is "To advance education for the benefit of the public by promoting on a non-political basis the study and discussion of and the exchange and dissemination of information and knowledge concerning national economic and social effects and influences of existing taxes and proposed changes in fiscal systems." [cite web |title=The Charity Comission Central Register: "Institute for Fiscal Studies" |url=]

History of the IFS

The Institute for Fiscal Studies came into existence because four professional people from the world of finance — a banker (Will Hopper), an investment trust manager (Bob Buist), a stockbroker (Nils Taube) and a tax consultant (John Chown) — were appalled by the way in which the 1965 Finance Act, introducing capital gains tax, reached the Statute Book.

James Callaghan (Labour Chancellor at the time) had made a speech announcing his intentions to make far-reaching changes to the tax system in his next Budget, including a capital gains tax and a corporation tax. Nils Taube commissioned John Chown to prepare a professional analysis of this speech. Despite his warnings about the dire consequences of implementation of the government’s proposals they stood, John Chown was dismayed to find that “the same half-baked proposals were rehashed in the Budget Speech, and the Finance Bill, when published, read as if the draftsman had simply been given the Callaghan speech and been told to turn it into legislation.”

They discovered that they were united in a determination, as John Chown puts it, “that never again should a government, regardless of its political colour and intentions, introduce far-reaching tax legislation without the benefit of deep and thorough analysis of its second- and third-order effects.”

Will Hopper recalls that the idea of a research institute did not take shape until some time later at “a dinner which was attended by Bob Buist, John Chown, Nils Taube and me on 30 July 1968 at the Stella Alpina restaurant, 32 North Audley Street, London W1 at which a decision was made to found our Institute. The actual date of birth was 21 May 1969 when it was incorporated — appropriately enough just over nine months later.

As well as research, the Institute had wider, unspoken objectives. The founders did not just want to start an Institute; they wanted to change the world or, at least, to change the world of the British fisc. In particular, they wanted:

• to alter the climate of opinion within which changes to the British tax system were considered;

• to improve the procedures by which changes in the tax system were effected;

• to help create a more rational tax system.



Finance Bill published proposing capital gains tax Nils Taube and Bob Buist establish contact with John Chown and Will Hopper to establish tax reform


Brainstorming weekend at The Bell, Aston Clinton Charter for Tax Reform published in The TimesJeremy Skinner and Halmer Hudson join group


Stella Alpina dinner: decision to found Institute


Institute incorporated as Company Limited by Guarantee


Dick Taverne becomes Director

1971 Formation of Council with President Sir Richard Powell, Vice-Presidents Roy Jenkins and Selwyn Lloyd; Executive Committee formed. Chairman: Will Hopper; Secretary:Halmer Hudson; Members: Buist, Chown, Skinner, Taube


First full-time staff appointed


First Newsletter produced


Institute moves form Bell Yard to Chandos Place


Meade Committee starts its enquiries under James Meade


Meade Report published; Institute moves to Castle Lane


John Kay appointed Director of Research


Fiscal Studies launched; Working Paper series launched


Armstrong Report published


Report series launched; First Green Budget


Publication of The Reform of Social Security


Institute moves to Tottenham Court Road

1986 Bill Robinson and Richard Blundell take over from Kay and Morris


Capital Taxes Group established


Move to Ridgmount Street

Andrew Dilnot appointed Director


ESRC Centre at IFS inaugurated


Tax Law Review Committee established


IFS web site launched

ee also

*List of UK think tanks


External links

* [ Institute for Fiscal Studies]

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