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David Alan Hjelle

11/22/2023, 8:29 PM
Does anyone (maybe @Jason Morris?) know of any attempts to codify payroll deduction laws into code? I mean, obviously all the payroll software companies have done this independently — but are there any versions that are 1) from the government itself or 2) open source or 3) commercial products separate from an entire payroll product? (My immediate interest is in the US, but I'm curious if there are any attempts at formalizing tax laws in a software-executable form anywhere.)
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Jason Morris

11/22/2023, 9:35 PM
So, US payroll deduction laws, no. My whole thing until recently had been building tools to make it more realistic to build these kinds of isolated encodings of just what the laws require. And payroll is a super good use case for it. But I haven't seen anyone actually do it that way out in the open. If it exists, it is probably an OpenFisca encoding, maybe something that PolicyEngine is working on. Policy Engine is actively attempting to encode US tax and benefit laws, but I think their target is being able to simulate policy changes, so I don't know if their code would even target calculating deductions. You could also contact the Policy Simulation Library, which is US-based, and ask if they know of anyone looking at those rules in particular. I'm also based in Canada and haven't had my thumb on what's happening in the US for a few years.
If you are interested in prototype formal encodings of US tax laws, there has been some work done in the Catala language, too.
If you're thinking of doing an encoding yourself, let me know. I can give you a run down of some of the software options and it might save you some time experimenting.
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David Alan Hjelle

11/22/2023, 10:11 PM
Interesting — thank you! That gives me some pointers to research if we ever decide to pursue that more fully.
And payroll is a super good use case for it. But I haven't seen anyone actually do it that way out in the open.
Yeah! It really struck me that there is a really useful product in this space — and, apart from the huge amount of work to encode the rules, it seems like payroll law is more amenable to this sort of thing than other areas of the law. But I don't really know what I'm talking about. 😄 Thanks again!
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