LL4CH      Half Unit
Tax in the Digital Economy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ian Roxan


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) 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.


This course is suitable for students from any disciplinary background within the social sciences. No previous study of taxation is required. Some prior familiarity with principles of tax design is advantageous but not essential.

Course content

Economic activity across the world is increasingly digital. Taxation systems across the world developed in the pre-digital age, but they have been rapidly finding ways to adapt to the new reality. This course will look in depth at the present and proposed responses of tax systems to the challenges of the digital economy. The issues will be examined both from a legal perspective and with wider interdisciplinary approaches including economics, sociology and political science.

Topics to be covered will include: the challenges posed by the digital economy (what is the digital economy?), taxing work in the digital economy, taxing sales and consumption in the digital economy, international tax challenges and solutions (the BEPS 2.0 project), tax challenges for developing countries, and digital solutions for tax compliance and administration.

Students will collaborate in groups to develop a deeper understanding of specific topics in the course. The summative assessment will be an essay building on this work.

Seminars discussing these issues will be complemented by the monthly LSE Taxation Seminars during the Lent Term. Established since the 1960s, the LSE Taxation Seminar series brings together a wide variety of participants, including lawyers, economists, accountants and government officials. The Seminars provide an important forum for topical discussion on taxation. They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in current debates, link insights from the Seminars to other issues studied in the course and connect with leading speakers from a wide range of backgrounds on current debates in taxation.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Lent Term. Students will usually have two additional hours in the Summer Term. This year teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit one 1,500-word formative essay or an equivalent assignment.

Indicative reading

• James & Nobes, Economics of Taxation, Avi-Yonah, et al., Global Perspectives on Income Taxation Law, or another introductory tax policy book

• Dean Curran, ‘Risk, Innovation, and Democracy in the Digital Economy’ (2018), 21(2) European Journal of Social Theory 207–26

• OECD, Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy: Action 1 Final Report, OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2018), chapters 3, 4, 7 and 8

• Wolfgang Schön, ‘Ten Questions about Why and How to Tax the Digitalized Economy’ (2017), Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance Working Paper 2017 – 11 (also (2018), 72(4/5) Bulletin for Int’l Taxation 278-92)

• David R. Agrawal & William F. Fox, ‘Taxes in an e-commerce generation’ (2017), 24(5) Int’l Tax Public Finance 903-26.

Detailed reading lists will be provided during the course via Moodle.


Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 11

Average class size 2019/20: 11

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills