LL4CO      Half Unit
Taxation of Wealth

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Summers


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Inequalities and Social Science 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.

Students are strongly recommended to take LL4CG Tax Policy and Design together with (or prior to) this course. Alternatively, students must demonstrate that they have some familiarity with key principles of tax design via previous academic or professional experience. The course is suitable for students from any social science background and non-Law students are also welcome.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

The course examines how the UK taxes wealth (and the wealthy) and evaluates options for reform. It addresses questions such as: Should inheritance tax be paid on lifetime gifts? Should capital gains be taxed at lower rates than regular income? What are the arguments for and against an annual wealth tax? How does the UK’s ‘non-dom’ tax regime work and how should it be reformed? What is the extent of offshore evasion and what steps can be taken to improve compliance?

We will draw on the latest research from multiple disciplines including economics, philosophy and political science, as well as law. The primary focus is on the UK context, although comparisons will also be made with other jurisdictions. For each topic, students will learn (in outline) how the existing tax system operates and then consider how it could be reformed.


The seminar topics are: (1) Introduction to UK taxes on wealth; (2) Inheritance Tax; (3) Reforming taxes on transfers of weath; (4) Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax; (5) Reforming taxes on returns on wealth; (6) Property taxes; (7) Net wealth taxes; (8) International dimensions; (9) Enforcement; (10) Redesigning taxes on wealth.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Autumn Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will receive formative feedback on two essay-plans (comprising 300-word abstract, outline of sub-headings, and bibliography) based on past or sample summative essay titles.

Indicative reading

Advani, A., and Summers, A. (2020), ‘How Much Tax Do the Rich Really Pay? New Evidence from Tax Microdata in the UK’, CAGE Policy Briefing 27


Advani, A., Chamberlain, E., and Summers, A. (2020), ‘A Wealth Tax for the UK’, Wealth Tax Commission Final Report


Alstadsæter, A., Johannesen, N., and Zucman, G. (2019) ‘Tax Evasion and Inequality’, American Economic Review, 109, 2073-2103


Corlett, A. (2018), ‘Passing On: Options for Reforming Inheritance Taxation’, Resolution Foundation


Delestre, I., Kopczuk, W., Miller, H., and Smith, K. (2022), ‘Top Income Inequality and Tax Policy’, IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities


Mirrlees, J., Adam, S., Besley, T., Blundell, R., Bond, S., Chote, R., Gammie, M., Johnson, P., Myles, G., and Poterba, J. M. (2011), Tax by Design: The Mirrlees Review, Vol. 2, Oxford: Oxford University Press


Office of Tax Simplification (2018), ‘Inheritance Tax Review – First Report: Overview of the Tax and Dealing with Administration’


Sandford, C. (1987), ‘Death Duties: Taxing Estates or Inheritances’, Fiscal Studies, 8, 15-23


Scheuer, F., and Slemrod, J. (2020), ‘Taxation and the Superrich’, Annual Review of Economics, 12, 189– 211


Summers, A. (2021), ‘Ways of Taxing Wealth: Alternatives and Interactions’, Fiscal Studies, 42, 485–507


Essay (100%, 6000 words) in the ST.

Students must answer two essay questions (3,000 words each) from a set of essay titles.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 15

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills