zkTax: A pragmatic way to support zero-knowledge tax disclosures

Alex Berke

Berke, A., South, T., Mahari, R., Larson, K., & Pentland, A. (2023). zkTax: A pragmatic way to support zero-knowledge tax disclosures. arXiv preprint arXiv:2311.13008.


Tax returns contain key financial information of interest to third parties: public officials are asked to share financial data for transparency, companies seek to assess the financial status of business partners, and individuals need to prove their income to landlords or to receive benefits. Tax returns also contain sensitive data such that sharing them in their entirety undermines privacy. We introduce a zero-knowledge tax disclosure system (zkTax) that allows individuals and organizations to make provable claims about select information in their tax returns without revealing additional information, which can be independently verified by third parties. The system consists of three distinct services that can be distributed: a tax authority provides tax documents signed with a public key; a Redact & Prove Service enables users to produce a redacted version of the tax documents with a zero-knowledge proof attesting the provenance of the redacted data; a Verify Service enables anyone to verify the proof. We implement a prototype with a user interface, compatible with U.S. tax forms, and demonstrate how this design could be implemented with minimal changes to existing tax infrastructure. Our system is designed to be extensible to other contexts and jurisdictions. This work provides a practical example of how distributed tools leveraging cryptography can enhance existing government or financial infrastructures, providing immediate transparency alongside privacy without system overhauls.

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