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Tax Behavior


Admission requirements

Students following this course are recommended to have completed at least one year of university education, not necessarily in law or economics. We expect the students to have a good proficiency in English both orally and in writing.


1.1 Context
This course provides an introduction to the field of empirical legal studies. Traditionally, legal scholars in the field of tax law have conducted doctrinal research. Although this approach (sometimes referred to as ‘law in the books’) is vital to the development of legal theory, it tells us little about how the law actually works in society. Understanding how tax law works in practice is of vital importance for policymakers because it allows them to design tax policies that achieve their goals. Often, tax law is not only introduced to raise government revenue but to influence behavior as well. One example that has received a lot of media attention is Dutch corporate tax policy that aims to attract and retain corporate business activities. Another example is the sugar tax that was included in the new government’s coalition agreement. The question that arises is: How do such tax policies influence behavior?
This course introduces students to commonly applied methodological tools to tackle this question including both qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative research methods (e.g., experiments). Students will explore the application of different research methods and study them ‘in action’ by exploring different themes in tax law such as:

  • Tax compliance: Why do people comply with the law despite the low risk of getting caught?

  • Corporate tax policy: How are business decisions influenced by tax policy?

  • Health policy: Are taxes an effective instrument to encourage people to make healthier choices?

1.2 Connection with the minor
The minor ‘tax and society’ is to familiarize students with the social impact of taxation. This course specifically addresses the behavioral effects of a selected number of themes in tax law and provides students with an understanding of the tools that can be applied to study the societal implications of tax policy.

1.3 Mode of instruction
This course consists of 5 seminars of 3 hours each. Each seminar will explore a different methodological tool and how it has been applied to study a particular theme of taxation. Each seminar will start by introducing a tax-related issue and a methodological tool that can be used to study this issue. The second part of the seminar will dive deeper into the application of the tool by analyzing a paper that describes research in taxation that has applied the relevant method. Hence, each seminar is structured as follows:

  • Introduction to a tax-related issue

  • Introduction to a methodological tool

  • Discussion of the application of the tool in practice

The methodological tools that will be discussed are:

  • Surveys

  • Experiments

  • Interviews

  • Regression analysis

  • Meta-analysis

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students:

  • Are aware of tax themes that are researched by empirical legal scholars

  • Have an understanding of commonly applied methodological tools

  • Are able to select an appropriate research method for empirical research questions in taxation

  • Understand empirical legal research

  • Are able to interpret and critically assess empirical legal research in taxation.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

3.1 Prior knowledge …

3.2 Entry requirements …

3.3 Teaching period ...

3.4 Teachers
Elody Hutten

Assessment method

5.1 Mode of assessment
Assignment (100%)
Students will be asked to write a short paper in which they:

  • Summarize the study

  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of the study

  • Write recommendations

Depending on the number of students, we may choose to make the exam an oral exam instead of a written exam.

5.2 Participation …

5.3 Procedure
Written via Brightspace (plagiarism check).

Reading list

  • Selection of papers (will be announced on Brightspace).


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: Elody Hutten

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25, (melden bij het secretariaat B211)

  • Contact information:

  • Phone number: +31 71 527 7840


  • Institute: Institute of Tax Law and Economics

  • Department: Tax Law

  • Room number secretary: B211

  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 14.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 715277840

  • Email:


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.