Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TRACfed – Online Service for Fed Enforcement Data

The University Libraries recently subscribed to TRACfed, an online service that enables you to mine lots of fascinating data about federal enforcement activity (criminal, civil, and administrative). It's UW restricted, so if you aren't on a UW computer you'll need to log in to off-campus access (upper right corner of library web pages) to get going. To generate some reports, you'll be prompted to register, choosing a user name and password.

Suppose that, like Prof. Scott Schumacher, you are interested in civil and criminal tax controversy and litigation. Wouldn't it be great to be able to find out how many people and corporations get audited and whether it varies by region of the country? Wouldn't you like to know how many cases the IRS refers to U.S. attorneys and the prosecution success rate? TRACfed lets you do all that and more!

From the main page, choose Admin (for Administrative Enforcement), then choose IRS. A menu on the left gives you some options (criminal enforcement, corporate audits, etc.):

For example, choose Criminal Enforcement. Right away, you see a graph showing you the rate of referrals from the IRS to federal prosecutors since 1992. You see it was a little over 20 per million in 1992, sloped down to a low of 7 or 8 per million in 2001 and has nudged up to 10 per million in 2010.

Click another link and you see a map illustrating which districts are the hottest for tax prosecutions.

Why is Western Washington yellow and Eastern Washington red?

Below the graphics, you'll see a spreadsheet that you can sort in different ways. Sorting by district shows that the IRS made 24 referrals to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, and 19 in the Eastern District. That would seem pretty close – but the Eastern District has a lot fewer people. So the odds of referral in 2010 were 5 per million in W.D. Wash. and 13 per million in E.D. Wash. The Western District ranked 79th among the 90 districts, while the Eastern District ranked 18th. (That's just for Fiscal Year 2010. In FY 2004, they were very close: 84th and 89th.)

This is just a taste of TRACfed. There are also datasets for Social Security and immigration, as well as criminal and civil actions. I'll have more examples in future posts.

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