LL4Z3      Half Unit
Taxation of Consumption and Income

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ian Roxan NAB7.25


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Law and Accounting and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.

Course content

The main sources of tax revenue in nearly every country are taxes on income and consumption in one form or another. This course looks at these two important tax bases to understand their differences, advantages and disadvantages, as well as looking at the taxes they give rise to. Most economists have consistently advocated the taxation of consumption in preference to income for many years. We will look at the validity of these arguments, and at how both consumption and income can be taxed either in the form of income taxes or of sales taxes.

The most dramatic change that has followed from the focus on taxing consumption has been the rise in value added tax (VAT), also called goods and services tax (GST). First implemented sixty years ago, the great majority of countries in the world now have a VAT, with the significant exception of the United States. The final part of the course will look at this important tax, examining how it has been implemented in a range of countries, including the European Union, whose VAT has been an important model for other countries. We will look at the main features of VATs, and at key current issues, such as cross-border transactions and applying VAT in the digital economy.

The course is suitable for students who are interested in taking one course in taxation, including students who have little previous background in taxation, as well as for tax specialists.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

One 2,000-word formative essay or an equivalent assignment.

Indicative reading

  • Schenk et al., James and Nobes, The Economics of Taxation;
  • Tanzi and Zee, Tax Policy for Developing Countries,
  • Mirrlees, et al., Tax by Design: the Mirrlees Review, (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011),
  • Edward J. McCaffery, ‘A New Understanding of Tax’ (2005), 103 Mich. L. Rev. 807;
  • J. McNulty, ‘Flat Tax, Consumption Tax, Consumption-type Income Tax Proposals in the United States: a Tax Policy Discussion of Fundamental Tax Reform’ (2000), 88 Cal. L. Rev. 2095;
  • Value Added Tax: A Comparative Approach (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015);
  • Ebrill et al., The Modern VAT (IMF, 2001);
  • Bird and Gendron, The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007);
  • Alan A. Tait, Value Added Tax: International Practice and Problems;
  • Mirrlees et al., Tax by Design.

Detailed reading lists will be provided during course via Moodle.

Recommended preliminary reading:

• James and Nobes, The Economics of Taxation or

• Tanzi and Zee, Tax Policy for Developing Countries;

• Ebrill et al., The Modern VAT (International Monetary Fund, 2001) or

• Alan A. Tait, Value Added Tax: International Practice and Problems (IMF, 1988).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 10

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills