Universiteit Leiden

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Tax and Society: Building a Sustainable and Fair Tax System

About this minor

Taxation is crucial to addressing many of the most pressing societal challenges today. Adapting to climate change, achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, controlling income and wealth inequality and fostering resilient democracies: none of these can be achieved without fair and sustainable taxation. The minor ‘Tax and Society’ offers a unique study-programme, with intensive small-scale teaching, and a strong focus on academic skills development, to provide you with a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the opportunities and challenges of building the tax system of tomorrow.


Fuelled by a number of high-profile scandals, taxation has in recent years become subject to intense public scrutiny and debate. There is now a widespread consensus that taxation is an indispensable tool for governments in pursuing their policy goals, especially as they are confronted with a range of challenges going forward, such as climate change, digitalization and income and wealth inequality. In the minor ‘Tax and Society’, you will investigate how national and international tax policy may help address these challenges, including how international tax cooperation can ensure that the benefits of globalization are fairly shared across the world; how the design and implementation of green taxes can support climate change mitigation; and, how tax administrations must adapt to the digitalization of the economy while simultaneously ensuring that their administrative procedures remain transparent and fair.

These topics demand an interdisciplinary perspective. Taught by a team of outstanding, dedicated lecturers from the Leiden Law School, you receive foundational training in the disciplines of comparative and international tax law, so as to be able to appreciate contemporary tax policy debates in national and international contexts. You are also introduced to economic, psychological, governance and philosophical perspectives on taxation, without which it is impossible to fully grasp and assess the opportunities and challenges faced by governments wishing to build sustainable and fair tax systems. The interdisciplinary and diverse character of the minor is also reflected in the classroom, which in the past included motivated and enthusiastic students from many different fields of study and with different nationalities. 

To prepare you to productively participate in national and international tax policy debates, the minor has a strong emphasis on skills development. This includes training in foundational research competencies in several academic disciplines, proficiency in English writing and presentation, as well as collaboration and team-work. You will apply these skills to real-world case-studies during tutorials and in panel discussions with tax experts from the public and private sector, by pursuing individual and group assignments, and by participating in classroom debates.


The programme consists of six courses with a total study load of at least 30 EC spread over two blocks in the Fall semester. 

Given the structure of the programme, preference is given to students who follow the full minor of 30 EC. As the courses in the advanced track build on those in the foundational track, those who wish to pursue only 15 EC of the programme must enrol in the courses of the foundational track.

1.           General Understanding of Comparative Tax Law

In this course, you will be introduced to common law and civil law tax systems. You will also discover the differences between the tax systems of developed and developing countries.

2.           Taxing for the Common Good

In this course, you will explore the topic of taxation from an economic policy perspective. You will learn how tax systems can contribute to a better society. For example: how can they achieve a more equal income distribution? Or contribute to a reduction in environmental damage?

3.           Tax and Behaviour

In this last course we focus on how taxation influences the behavior of citizens and companies. You will be introduced to different empirical research methods, like surveys, experiments, and interviews.

4.           Tax in the Boardroom

In this second course, you will work on strategic tax issues that are discussed by CEOs and CFOs at boardroom level of a multinational firm. You will unravel famous tax avoidance structures of large multinationals, like Ikea, Nike, and Starbucks. And you will evaluate whether international policy measures against tax avoidance are effective.

5.           Tax in Digitalizing Society

In this course, you will learn all about the tax challenges arising from the digitalizing of the economy; from taxation of internet platforms and e-commerce to artificial intelligence and data protection.

6.           Tax Debates

In this last course, you'll present your ideas about fair and sustainable taxation and debate with experts how to fix the global tax system.

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