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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5613M International Tax Law and Policy

30 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor Rita de la Feria

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

LAW5612M Tax Law and Policy

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module will be divided into three parts. In the first part, the objective will be to provide a general overview of taxation matters. Consideration will be given to traditional taxes, such as personal income tax, corporate income tax, property taxes and VAT; as well as new taxes, part of emerging trends within taxation, such as environmental taxes, and financial transactions taxes. In the second half of the module, attention will focus on taxation of consumption – known as indirect taxation – particularly to VAT / GST, as the main general tax on consumption. Problematic areas regarding the legal design of VAT/ GST systems, such as rate structures, exemptions and allocation of taxing powers will be discussed; the phenomena of VAT planning, avoidance and fraud will also be analysed. The third and final part of the module will focus upon the taxation of income, particularly corporate income – what is known as direct taxation. It will focus upon allocation of taxing rights, the role of double taxation treaties, and the principles of residence vs. source taxation; as well as problematic areas of taxation of corporate income, such as tax competition, international profit shifting, thin capitalisation, transfer pricing and the role of tax havens.


The aim of this module will be to provide a platform for research into the specialised aspects of tax law and policy. Its objective is to familiarise students with the basic principles of tax law and policy from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students will be encouraged to engage with various tax law sources, namely international treaties, official documentation from Governmental, and non-Governmental organisations (e.g. IMF, OECD), as well as European institutions, and tax literature.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students will be able to:
- understand the basic structure, features and fundamental characteristics of tax systems and identify key tax concepts, legislation, case law and literature;
- identify traditional and emerging trends within the design of tax structures (for both direct and indirect tax systems);
- understand the role of EU institutions and international organisations within domestic tax systems;
- evaluate and critically assess different design features of tax systems (both direct and indirect);
- identify and consider difficulties in developing tax policy in a globalised and digitalised economy.
- demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and together with peers in a team;
- construct written and oral critical arguments about issues relating to tax;
- carry out research in the area of tax, using a wide range of sources including official documentation, case-law and literature.

Skills outcomes
On completion of the module students will be able to:
- employ the acquired knowledge to hypothetical situations concerning tax law
- identify the key concepts, key international and EU legislation, case law and literature on taxation
- use concepts from economics literature to evaluate tax law design
- identify the fundamental principles and key challenges of taxing consumption and income
- understand how both principles and challenges are reflected and deal with in the design of tax policy
- critically assess the restrains and limitations of tax policy design and its consequences from both a legal and economic perspectives


Fundamental taxation principles and national tax structures: taxing powers, sources of tax law, traditional taxes and emerging trends
Taxing consumption
a. Spread of VAT / GST: history, reasons for its popularity, traditional vs. modern VAT systems
b. VAT rate structures: rationale for reduced rates, legal and economic difficulties caused by reduced rates, policy ideal vs. politically achievable rate structure
c. VAT exemptions: merit exemptions and public services vs. technical exemptions, gambling, and immovable property; VAT financial services' exemption and under-taxation of financial sector, taxing financial institutions, Financial Transactions Tax vs. Financial Activities Tax
d. Allocation of VAT taxing powers: principle of destination vs. origin, legal proxies and its difficulties
e. VAT planning, avoidance and fraud: distinguishing between the three phenomena, what is avoidance and what is acceptable planning, connection between avoidance and tax policy design; VAT fraud, quantification and types, methods of combating it, connection between fraud and tax policy design

Taxing income
a. Principles of corporate and personal income tax: tax bases and tax rates, proportionality, progressivity, ability to pay and the flat-tax debate
b. Allocation of income taxing powers: role of double taxation treaties, and of fundamental freedoms at EU level; principles of residence and source, international tax regimes, proposals for destination-based tax
c. Corporate tax base: the debt vs equity conundrum and thin capitalisation rules, tax incentives to debt, and proposals for elimination of distinction between debt and equity
d. International dynamics of taxing corporate income: tax competition, and Delaware effect; international profit shifting, control foreign companies (CFC) rules, and transfer pricing rules
e. International tax avoidance: tax havens, rationale to become one, G20 crackdown, exchange of information agreements

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours276.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

A formative assessment opportunity will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay6,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/09/2023 12:56:42


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