New America’s New Approach to Policymaking Reflected in Direct File Report

Policy Paper
May 16, 2023

New America takes a new approach to how social policy can be designed and delivered to improve family economic security and wellbeing. Our team sits at the nexus of policy making and delivery, with deep expertise in both areas. Our staff includes past private-sector leaders in design, product, and data science, as well as former career civil servants and political appointees who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations. The team knows a lot about making the government more consumer friendly and customer oriented.

Our methodology puts people at the center of public problem-solving, while leveraging real-time data to allow policymakers to learn, adjust, and implement policy more quickly.

This unique approach is reflected in our most recent report for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The report, mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, looked into the feasibility, cost, and approach for the IRS to develop a public, direct filing option for taxpayers through the IRS website. Named as part of an independent third party review team, our experts reviewed survey data, over 50 academic papers, reports, and articles on tax administration, and conducted over 70 interviews with IRS and Treasury officials, private industry representatives, and state tax agency officials. We found that a potential Direct File system might create opportunities to ease the burden of tax filing for Americans, but that it would also require the IRS to address several key design imperatives, including adopting a gradual, iterative design process, addressing integration with state tax filing processes, and providing adequate customer service support for any potential platform.

Our findings, per the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), were included in the IRS’s final report that was submitted to Congress on May 16, 2023.

A five-page summary of New America’s findings can be found here.

Our full report can be found here.