Rapenburg 65, 2311 GJ Leiden

Phone +31 (0) 71 - 751.01.30

Fax +31 (0) 71 - 751.01.31

Rapenburg 65, 2311 GJ Leiden

Phone +31 (0) 71 - 751.01.30

Fax +31 (0) 71 - 751.01.31

Course information

Foundations of International Tax Law

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Kees van Raad

All four sections of this course aim at bringing the students, who arrive with quite varying backgrounds in international tax law, up to the same advanced level for the substantive courses that follow. As the position of tax law in graduate school curricula varies enormously around the globe, it is important that students with different graduate training backgrounds in international tax law are given the opportunity to equalize their knowledge.

The first part of the Fundamentalscourse is the ‘Introduction to international tax law’. It provides an overview of the basics of international tax jurisdiction and of (the relief of) juridical and economic double taxation.

The second part of the Fundamentals course focuses on basic concepts of income taxation - another topic in respect of which students may have quite different backgrounds, as the taxation course(s) they have taken in their home country may be too focused on their particular domestic tax system to provide an adequate basis for the great many different aspects of (international) taxation that they will be dealing with in the Program.

The third part of the course deals with tax accounting. Experience of the past years has shown that many students arrive with different tax accounting backgrounds due to divergences in the accounting principles adopted worldwide. This course will harmonize such divergences at a higher level.

The fourth part of the course (Selected international issues of corporate taxation) aims at familiarizing students with the international dimensions of selected advanced corporate tax issues. As in the later courses various corporate tax aspects of international tax law are touched upon, it is important that students are familiar with the underlying concepts.

Tax Treaties

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Kees van Raad  

This course begins with a discussion of the general aspects of the OECD Model Double Taxation Convention (policy, background and development), of the scope of the Model and the general definitions it employs, and of tax treaty interpretation.

Next, the treaty attribution rules are analysed with regard to business and professional income (Art. 7), transportation income (Art. 8), real property income (Art. 6), dividends (Art. 10), interest (Art. 11), royalties (Art. 12) and capital gains (Art. 13). Subsequently, after the intermediate exam, attention is focused on the treaty attribution rules with respect to services, including employment and pension income (Art. 15 through 20), other income (Art. 21) capital (Art. 22) and double taxation relief (Art. 23A-B).

The course is concluded by discussions of the technically complex subjects such as e-commerce, beneficial ownership & international tax avoidance, partnerships, triangular cases, financial instruments and international trade dispute resolution in tax matters and by a detailed discussion of tax treaty policy issues.

Teaching is offered in different forms. The core of the instruction is formed by lectures, which focus on the basic rules of the various treaty provisions, and on their operation and application. In addition there are workshops where the subject matter of the lectures will be further discussed by the Teaching Assistants (TAs) through cases.

Foundations of European Law

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Stefaan Van den Bogaert

This course will cover the foundations of European Union Law as well as the basic principles of the internal market and its process of harmonization.

The first part of the course will give participants a thorough knowledge and understanding of the institutional, constitutional and administrative law of the EU and the relationship of this law with the national law of the EU Member States. The sources and nature of EU Law, its constitutional principles, the EU institutions and the EU’s decision making process will be discussed in-depth.

The second part of the course is intended to give the students a thorough grounding in the substantive economic law of the EU as relevant for international business. The main focus is on the substantive provisions in the Treaties on the internal market, i.e. on the ‘four freedoms’ (free movement of goods, persons, services and capital) as well as on their link to competition law. The second part of the course also deals with the harmonization of nationals law (the theory of harmonization as well as the relationship of secondary law and primary law).

Throughout this course specific attention will be paid to aspects relating to both direct and indirect taxation. Thus, the course will thus provide the necessary context for subsequent courses in the program.

Fiscal Sovereignty and Fundamental Freedoms

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Douma

The course on fiscal sovereignty and the fundamental freedoms will consider how the key objectives of the European Union have impacted the field of direct and indirect taxation.

The objective of this course is to familiarize participants with the manner in which the fiscal sovereignty of Member States is impacted or restricted by the obligations entered into by the Member States under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This course will primarily be taught through the use of European case law (primary materials). In this way, participants will gain insight into the legal reasoning used by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in this context, and be able to apply this approach to assess measures of national law which have not yet been decided.

Direct Tax Coordination and Harmonization

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Douma

This course will consider the impact of EU law specifically on the field of direct taxation (e.g., corporate and individual income tax and withholding taxes). This will include inter alia the key European Directives, including pending proposals for the CCCTB.

The objective of this course is to familiarize candidates with the sub-field of fiscal harmonization in the field of direct taxation. This will be achieved through an analysis of a number of key EU Directive (the Parent Subsidiary Directive, the Merger Directive, the Interest and Royalties Directive and the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base Directive). In addition to this, attention is paid to the field of harmful tax competition and the work of the Code of Conduct Group.

The issue at the heart of this course, is how Member States have - within the context of the EU - sought to reduce differences in their direct tax systems. How have they sought to achieve harmonization? Why did they do so? Are there limits to the possible harmonization? And what will be the status of European fiscal harmonization in the (near) future?

Alongside the aforementioned examples of harmonization, this course deals with the issue of harmful tax competition. Over the past decade or so, the Code of Conduct Group has played a pivotal role in abolishing instances of harmful tax competition through the mechanism of inter-governmental peer-pressure. The effect of this has been a convergence of the European (direct) tax systems on the point of harmful tax competition. The work of the Code of Conduct Group offers a different 'model' for attaining harmonization. By addressing this in the same course as the various Directives, the similarities and differences in these approaches will become clear.

Indirect Tax Coordination and Harmonization

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. René van der Paardt

This course will consider the development of the coordination and harmonization process since the start of the European Economic Community. The course will focus in particular on the Community Customs Code, the Value Added Tax Directive and Excise Duties. In addition, attention will be paid to the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion (incl. cooperation between tax authorities) and future environmental taxes.

Under Article 113 TFEU, the Council shall adopt provisions for the harmonization of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent that such harmonization is necessary to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition. According to Article 33 TFEU, the European Parliament and the Council shall take measures in order to strengthen customs cooperation between Member States and between the latter and the Commission. This, contrary to what we have seen in respect of direct taxation, the area of indirect taxation has been harmonized to a large extent in the European Union.

The objective of this course is to familiarize candidates with the sub-field of fiscal harmonization in the field of indirect taxation. This will be achieved through a detailed analysis of the Community Customs Code, the VAT Directive (and its predecessors) and excise duties and related taxes. Tax fraud, abuse of law and proposals for new indirect taxes – such as environmental taxes – will also be discussed. After having followed this course, students will have a thorough knowledge of EU indirect tax law as it currently stands. Moreover, they will be aware of the background and aims of the system.

Fiscal State Aid

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Douma

This course provides an introduction to the field of (fiscal) State aid, focusing on the key case law and the decision making practice of the European Commission (incl. policy documents). The topic will be present against the background of (general) European competition law

This course to familiarize participants with the difficult subject of fiscal State aid. Applicants’ will be provided with the conceptual tools necessary to assess whether a measure of national law constitutes a (potential) State aid risk and with a comprehensive overview of the key European Commission’s policies and decisions, and the most important decisions by the European Courts the field of (fiscal) State aid.

General Principles of EU Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

Course coordinator: Mr. Arjo van Eijsden

This course deals with the general principles of EU Law, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The key questions which will be addressed in this regard pertain, firstly, the material scope of the fundamental rights, i.e., in what do these rights consists? And, secondly, how do these rights relate to the field of taxation? In which ways might the rights set out in the Charter for example be relevant in the context of a taxpayer’s relationship with his national tax authorities? What is the relationship between the Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms? The implementation of judgments of the Court of Justice by national courts system will also be examined.

EU Procedural Law and Taxation

Course coordinator: Mr. Arjo van Eijsden

The issue at the heart of this course is the procedural side of EU Law, particularly in the context of taxation. This subject will be approached by giving a general outline of judicial protection of EU rights, followed by a detailed analysis of the enforcement of EU law in tax matters. The course will conclude with a field trip to either Brussels or Luxemburg.

EU Fiscal Practicum

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Douma

The EU Fiscal Practicum consists in a tailor-made role playing scenario, whereby participants are offered the possibility of testing their European Tax Law skills in a simulated environment.

The simulations offered are: (a) European Moot Court Case (simulated ECJ case); (b) a European Policy Briefing (simulated group of national civil servants), or (c) European Client Meeting (simulated commercial meeting with a client). In each case, participants are presented with a particular legal challenge which they must solve. This takes the form of a case under litigation (litigation approach), an idea or legal solution which must be presented to a client (commercial approach) or a policy briefing to a ‘government official’ (policy approach).

Participants must make an oral presentation of a particular topic for, respectively, a panel of judges, a group of civil servants or a (commercial) client. These roles will be fulfilled by external persons, who have a background relevant to the case at hand.

EU Technical Meeting

Course coordinator: the Program Coordinator

The weekly Technical Meeting is a voluntary meeting, whereby candidates discuss the most recent developments in the field of EU Tax Law (e.g., case law, policy, etc.) Candidates are required to provide input to this meeting on an independent basis, i.e., identify key developments and prepare them in an autonomous manner. However, candidates will be encouraged to work together to lighten their work load.

The course aims, on the one hand, to develop candidates’ knowledge and on the other hand to develop skills needed to keep knowledge up to date. In addition to this, attention will be paid to the use of legal (fiscal) English and presentational skills.

An important function of the Technical Meeting is to provide a structural moment at which candidates can discuss EU tax law developments between themselves and obtain immediate feedback from participating staff, including the Chair.


Candidates are required to complete a paper of approximately 10.000 words on a topic related to one of the subjects covered in the Program. The paper will be supervised by an appropriate member of staff.

The objective of the paper is to develop candidates’ capacity for independent legal thought and research, as well as to deepen their knowledge in a particular field of EU tax law.

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last update: 14 February 2017

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