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Comparative Tax Systems - ATAX0641

Course Outline: See below
Campus: ATAX Campus
Career: Undergraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Excluded: ATAX0341, ATAX0441
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


The 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 & wealth taxes, and environmental taxes), tax operating costs, tax administration and tax policy making and reform.

Course Objectives

A candidate who has successfully completed this course should be able to:
  • Identify the major similarities and differences between contemporary tax systems
  • Account for the major reasons for such similarities and differences
  • Understand the impact of institutional legal, political, economic, social, cultural and other factors on the development of tax systems
  • Identify likely trends in tax system development and future tax reform.

Main Topics

This 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 sales taxes worldwide?
  • Why are there so many differences in the way countries tax corporate income and capital gains tax?
  • Why do less than half of the OECD 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?
  • What are the keys to success in tax reform?


2 Assignments
1 Exam
Class Participation

Course Texts

Information regarding the Atax Textbook Lists for Semester 1 will be available on the UNSW Bookshop website from 1 February.

Information regarding the Atax Textbook Lists for Semester 2 will be available on the UNSW Bookshop website from 1 July.

Refer to Course Profile supplied by Lecturer.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.