Tax Avoidance

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Law
  • Application code SS-LL210
  • Starting TBC
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Please note: This course will not be running as part of the 2021 programme. However, you may be interested in our confirmed courses.

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of tax avoidance and of the attempts by states to combat it: both unilaterally and multilaterally.

Taxpayers have always sought to minimise their tax burden. However recent decades have witnessed a sharp rise in popular and governmental concern with tax shelters and other tax avoidance. Traditional strategies of tax avoidance have included postponement of taxes and tax arbitrage, in addition to attempting to exploit ‘loopholes’ through a formalist interpretation of legislation. In recent years the proliferation of complex financial instruments has increased the opportunities for such avoidance. Additionally, globalisation and the development of the digital economy have facilitated tax avoidance strategies of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). This rise in opportunities for tax avoidance has been accompanied by an increased public concern that individuals and companies pay their ‘fair share’ of taxation: which states have responded to both through unilateral and multilateral actions (including the OECD’s project on BEPS and the EU’s Anti Tax Avoidance Package).

The course will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach. So in addition to a legal and public policy analysis, the course will also draw on accessible social-science literature: developing students’ abilities to be sophisticated consumers of social science research. Whilst using examples predominantly from the UK and USA the issues addressed by the course are general across many jurisdictions and so will be applicable to those with interests beyond the UK and USA. 

Session: TBC
Dates: TBC
Lecturer: Dr Michael Blackwell


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


Introduction to legal methods or equivalent. No specific prior knowledge of tax law is required.

This course is designed to be of both high academic rigour: but would also be of direct practical value to those working (or aspiring to work) in public policy or the private sector. Thus addition to appealing to students with a public policy interest, it appeals to students preparing for a career in taxation (either in private practice or working for the state) as well as to practitioners wishing to broaden their horizon.

Programme structure

  • Defining avoidance
  • Strategies of tax avoidance
  • Statutory interpretation and judicial approaches to tax avoidance especially with reference to the UK and USA
  • General Anti-Abuse and Anti-Avoidance Rules and Specific and Targeted Anti-Avoidance Rules
  • Reporting rules and other policies to deter avoidance
  • The OECD response to BEPS
  • BEPS and the EU
  • Corporate social responsibility, professional ethics and public attitudes with regard tax avoidance

Course outcomes

  • Critically evaluate ongoing developments in the law relating to tax avoidance;
  • Display an understanding of areas of doctrinal and political debate surrounding tax avoidance
  • Critically evaluate empirical research relating to tax avoidance.


LSE’s Law Department is one of the world’s best. In the UK, it was ranked first for research outputs in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in the top 5 law departments overall by The Complete University Guide in 2018. In the 2017 QS World University rankings, the Department was ranked seventh (out of 200 departments worldwide).

Many important subjects were first taught and examined systematically from an academic perspective in LSE’s Department of Law. We pioneered the study of banking law, taxation law, civil litigation, company law, labour law, family law, aspects of welfare law, and studies of the legal system and the legal profession, and continue to be the leading thinkers in our field.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s law faculty.

Reading materials

Dhammika Dharmapala, `What Do We Know about Base Erosion and Profit Shifting? A Review of the Empirical Literature' (2014) 35(4) Fiscal Studies 421

Judith Freedman, `Interpreting Tax Statutes: Tax Avoidance and the Intention of Parliament' (2007) 53 Law Quarterly Review 123

OECD, Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project Action 1, 2015)

Joseph E Stiglitz, `The general theory of tax avoidance' (1986) 38(3) National Tax Journal 325.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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