Better Analysis

Administrative records, particularly corporate tax and unemployment insurance (UI) records, represent some of the most reliable data sets available for conducting policy analysis and program evaluation of economic and workforce development programs. Government agencies can use these data to measure state-specific program performance and impact; improve policies, program outcomes, and regulatory initiatives; and ensure that taxpayer dollars are directed to the most effective programs.

Identifying "Evaluation-Relevant" Data Elements in State Corporate Income Tax Forms

State corporate income tax forms include a variety of data elements that could enhance economic and workforce development policy analysis and program evaluation. These "evaluation-relevant" data elements can be grouped into four categories: 1) Company background information, 2) General tax information, 3) Tax credit information, and 4) Reported economic impact (of tax credits) information. Examples of evaluation-relevant data elements include:

1. Company Background Information
  • Company identification number
  • Business type
  • Industry classification code
2. General Tax Information
  • State taxable income
  • Total sales
  • Total wages
3. Tax Credit Information
  • Value of tax credits claimed
  • Value of tax credits sold
  • Sales price of tax credits sold
4. Economic Impact Information
  • Number of new jobs created
  • Average wages for new jobs
  • Job titles for new jobs

For detailed descriptions of "evaluation-relevant" data elements, download the Data Element Glossary.

Validating Program Impacts with Corporate Income Tax Data

Analyzing these data elements can help leaders answer critical questions about the impact of public investment in economic and workforce development, such as:

  • Which companies and workers are most at risk of downsizing or closing and therefore need help?
  • How are trends in tax credit claims impacting the state budget? Can recognizable patterns aid government service planning?
  • Are companies fulfilling their promises to create or retain jobs and generate new economic activity?
  • What types of jobs are actually created as a result of tax credit program participation? Do they offer high enough wages to help increase the state's overall economic prosperity?
Assessing the Value of State Corporate Income Tax Data for Measuring Economic & Workforce Development Program Impacts

The data elements collected on corporate income tax forms vary from state to state. The manner in which the data must be reported may also differ. For example, one state form may ask for only the sum of all tax credits claimed while another form asks for the value of individual tax credits claimed. These differences could have an impact on the value of the data for conducting policy analysis and program evaluation. Microdata that is specific to individual tax credit programs can facilitate more rigorous analysis than aggregated information can.

SDS gathered and analyzed the 2015 corporate income tax forms for all 50 states and the District of Columbia that tax businesses. The forms were collected from state revenue department websites. The goal of the study was to determine which "evaluation-relevant" data elements are the most and least commonly collected and to identify states that collect the greatest number of "evaluation-relevant" data elements.

The results of the 2015 corporate income tax form analysis can be accessed through the SDS Initiative's State Tax Data Comparison Tool.

State Tax Data Comparison Tool

The State Tax Data Comparison Tool can be used to compare what types of "evaluation-relevant" data elements different states collected on their 2015 corporate income tax forms and attached schedules for economic development tax credit programs.

How It Works

The tool identifies 24 "evaluation-relevant" data elements and tabulates the elements collected by individual states and territories. It also provides the Tax Form ID for all forms and schedules analyzed. Upon review, a score of 1, 0, or N/A is assigned for each data elements.

Score Definition
1 Yes; the state collects the data element.
0 No; the state or territory does not collect the data element.
N/A The state or territory does not collect corporate income tax.

Download the tool by clicking on the "Download Tool" button at the bottom of the screen. A Data Elements Glossary containing detailed descriptions of the 24 data elements and sample program impact evaluation questions is also available for download.

  • To compare the number of data elements different states collect, sort the "Individual State Frequency Count" column (Column Z) largest to smallest.
  • To compare how often different data elements are collected by all states, view the "Frequency Count" row (Row 55).
State Tax Data Comparison Tool (Excel) Data Elements Glossary (PDF)