Research at HMRC

The HMRC research programme supports and provides evidence for how we make, and evaluate, our policies.

Research reports

Our research and analysis publications can be found at HMRC publications: research and analysis.

Working papers series

The working papers are occasional papers on analytical issues, produced by or on behalf of HMRC.

Research activities funded by HMRC

The document below sets out current research activities funded by HMRC’s programme of research:

HMRC External Research Programme 2017 to 2018 (PDF, 276KB, 7 pages)

Contact the research team

If you have any questions about the HMRC research and analysis programme, contact:

Research Enquiries
CoDE - OST
9th floor
10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Email: research.enquiries@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

How HMRC may use information we hold about you to conduct research

How we use your information for research

We collect information about you to enable us to carry out our lawful functions. For more information on this, see the HMRC Privacy Notice.

We may use this information to undertake research, the findings from which are used to improve and develop the way we carry out our lawful functions.

Some of our research is undertaken by a contractor acting on our behalf. Where this is the case, we may pass some of your personal information to our contractor, so they can contact you to invite you to participate.

Why we’re able to do this

Section 17 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005 provides the legal basis for passing personal information to contractors acting on our behalf.

This allows us to use information we acquire while carrying out our lawful functions for the purposes of our other functions. For example, information we collect for the purposes of collecting tax can be used for research to improve and develop other HMRC services, without seeking the permission of individual taxpayers.

Article 6 (1) (e) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also allows us to collect and process your data in this way, to carry out our lawful functions.

How we keep your information safe

When conducting research, we adhere to legal requirements (for example, those in the GDPR) and we take our responsibilities seriously.

Contractors commissioned to conduct research on our behalf are also required to comply fully with the requirements of the GDPR. All HMRC research contractors are required to sign a confidentiality agreement for each research project, which makes their unlawful disclosure of information a criminal offence. More information about confidentiality is provided in section 18 of The Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act, which covers contractors acting on our behalf.

We limit the information passed to research contractors to include only what is necessary and relevant to the research.

This information can only be used for the purposes of the research project, and is erased once it is no longer required.

Information you provide when you participate in HMRC research projects is used for research purposes only, and, unless you agree otherwise, the information you provide will be confidential. Any personal data that is used or collected as part of the research will only be kept as long as is necessary for the research.

If you don’t want to take part in a research interview

Participation in a research interview for HMRC is entirely voluntary, and you can withdraw at any point.

Where information held by us is used to invite you to participate in our research, you will usually receive a communication in advance informing you that the research is taking place. This will provide details of who to contact if you do not wish to participate, or wish to withdraw from the research at a later time.

How to put things right

If you are contacted to participate in research and think we haven’t complied with the GDPR principles in some way, you can complain to us.

You can complain using the contact details for the HMRC project manager in any communications you have received about the research project.

You can also request these contact details from any interviewer who contacts you to ask you to participate in a research interview.

Further details of your rights under the GDPR and how to complain can be found in the HMRC Privacy Notice.

The HMRC Datalab

The HMRC Datalab allows approved researchers to access de-identified HMRC data in a government accredited secure environment.

The aim of the Datalab is to produce high quality analysis that benefits both HMRC and the wider research community.

Datalab projects are not commissioned by HMRC.

Data protection policies and standards

The Datalab follows HMRC’s strict data protection policies. There are restrictions on working practices to safeguard taxpayer confidentiality. To become an ‘approved researcher’, institutions have to submit a proposal and complete a short training course.

The Datalab is governed by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005, which dictates who HMRC can allow to access their data and for what reasons.

Research proposals for the Datalab must serve one of HMRC’s functions under the CRCA 2005. See Disclosure for the purposes of HMRC’s functions for further information.

Organisations who can apply to use the Datalab

Access to the Datalab is open to researchers from a UK academic institution or government department.

HMRC also considers applications from not for profit organisations, such as independent research bodies. From April 2018, we will accept applications from commercial research groups, but only when commissioned by a government department.

International researchers will need to be affiliated, employed by, or studying at a UK university, government department or research organisation.

Applying to use the HMRC Datalab

To apply to use the HMRC Datalab:

  1. download and complete the Datalab project proposal form: HMRC Datalab Project Proposal Application (ODT, 17.3KB)

  2. email the form to: HMRC Datalab

It’s important that your proposal shows how your research will be:

  • useful for HMRC
  • improved using HMRC data rather than other available sources

The Datalab Team will then advise you on your project, and may request more detailed information.

Proposals are then evaluated against these criteria:

  • contribution to HMRC functions
  • long-term benefit to HMRC
  • research design and likely impact of the research
  • feasibility of the research

HMRC is more likely to support projects that are relevant to contemporary research questions.

All research in the HMRC Datalab must be independent, with the results intended for publication.

It may be useful to see this list of approved research proposals to help you with your submission:

HMRC research proposals approved to date

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email different.format@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

These are topics currently of interest to HMRC which we would like to see explored in the HMRC Datalab:

  • efficiency improvements within HMRC
  • compliance
  • data issues
  • tax policy

Application submission deadlines

Applications are assessed on a quarterly basis:

  • Friday 6 April 2018, to be discussed 25 April 2018
  • Friday 6 July 2018, to be discussed in July 2018 (date to be confirmed)
  • Friday 7 September 2018, to be discussed in September 2018 (date to be confirmed)
  • Monday 17 December 2018, to be discussed in January 2019 (date to be confirmed)

Please note that future dates may be subject to change and amendments will be published on the website, so please check regularly if you are planning on submitting a proposal to be considered.

Available datasets

These are the datasets currently available in the HMRC Datalab.

Other HMRC datasets

You can submit a proposal requesting the use of datasets not listed above, if the information you need is currently not available in the Datalab. Please consult our data catalogue for further information on the data that HMRC holds:

HMRC Data Catalogue

Using and matching your own data

You will need to describe the data you would like to bring and the HMRC Datalab Team will consider each dataset on a case by case basis.

Key identifiers have been removed from the HMRC Datalab datasets as part of the de-identification process so matching will have to be undertaken by HMRC.

Contact the HMRC Datalab

If you have any questions about the Datalab please contact us.

HMRC Datalab
Room 9.31
10 South Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 4PU

Email: HMRC Datalab