This document tells you how to begin using or contributing to Tax-Calculator. This is the first document to read when learning about Tax-Calculator.
If you only want to use Tax-Calculator, you should finish reading this document and then read the user guide that describes how to use Tax-Calculator on your own computer (without doing any programming) and how to use the Tax-Calculator web application called TaxBrain. If you want the most flexibility in using Tax-Calculator on your own computer, read the user guide first and then read our Cookbook of Tested Recipes for Python Programming with Tax-Calculator.
What is Tax-Calculator?
Tax-Calculator simulates the USA federal individual income and payroll tax system. In conjunction with micro data that represent the USA population, Tax-Calculator can be used to estimate the aggregate revenue and distributional effects of tax reforms under static analysis assumptions. In conjunction with other modules, Tax-Calculator can be used to estimate reform effects under a range of non-static assumptions. Tax-Calculator is written in Python, an interpreted language that can execute on Windows, Mac, or Linux. It is released under an open-source license.
Results will change as model data and logic improve. A fundamental reason for adopting open-source methods in this project is so that people from all backgrounds can contribute to the models that our society uses to assess economic policy; when community-contributed improvements are incorporated, the model will produce different results.
The first step for everyone (users and developers) is to open a free GitHub account so that you can communicate with Tax-Calculator developers. This is by far the easiest way to ask questions, make suggestions, or report bugs. Note only does this put you into direct contact with Tax-Calculator develops, it allows the community of more experienced users, all of whom are watching the Tax-Calculator GitHub repository, to answer your questions. You can create an account at the Join GitHub webpage. And then you can specify how you want to "watch" the Tax-Calculator repository by clicking on the Watch button in the upper-right corner of the Tax-Calculator main page.
The second step is to get familiar with Tax-Caclulator code by reading the code documentation.
Then after taking these two steps, you can do any of these things:
If you want to ask a question, create a new issue here posing your question about Tax-Calculator as clearly as possible.
If you want to report a bug, create a new issue here providing details on what you think is wrong with Tax-Calculator.
If you want to request an enhancement, create a new issue here providing details on what you think should be added to Tax-Calculator.
If you want to propose code changes, follow the directions in the contributor guide on how to fork and clone the Tax-Calculator git repository. Before developing any code changes be sure to read completely the contributor guide. The Tax-Calculator release history and change history provide descriptions of features introduced or changed in past Tax-Calculator releases. The release history is more technical while the change history is less technical and may be sufficient for many users.
Please cite the source of your analysis as "Tax-Calculator release
#.#.#, author's calculations." If you wish to link to Tax-Calculator,
preferred. Additionally, we strongly recommend that you describe the
input data used, and provide a link to the materials required to
replicate your analysis or, at least, note that those materials are
available upon request.