The Comparative Tax Systems course provides students with a comparative overview of the tax systems of various countries, with a view to developing a conceptual and practical understanding of the reasons why tax systems differ (and why they are sometimes so similar).  The objectives of the course are to help students understand the characteristics that tax systems have in common, the areas in which tax systems differ, and the factors (legal, institutional, political, economic, social and cultural) that cause the similarities and differences.

The course covers areas such as:

  • Tax structures
  • Tax at different government levels
  • Different types of tax (including income taxes, consumption taxes, capital and wealth taxes, environmental taxes)
  • Tax operating costs
  • Tax administration
  • Tax policy making and reform. 

The course seeks to answer a series of key questions such as: why is income tax the dominant tax in so many developed countries whereas developing countries rely so heavily on indirect taxes; why do some countries have more tax expenditures than others; why have value added taxes, or derivatives of such taxes, become the dominant consumption taxes worldwide; why are there so many differences in the way countries tax corporate income and capital gains tax; why do so few countries have wealth taxes; what are the best types of tax for different levels of government; how do tax systems and revenue authorities best manage issues of complexity;  what is the role of environmental taxes in modern tax systems; how are tax systems likely to develop in the future; and what are the keys to success in tax reform?

The course is taught by Professor Chris Evans, University of New South Wales and Professor Judith Freedman