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Tax in a Digitalizing Society


Admission requirements

Prospective students are recommended to have completed a minimum of one year of university education (not necessarily in law or economics). Proficiency in English, both verbal and written, is expected.


Tax systems are the foundations upon which societies function and prosper. In order to remain successful over time, tax systems require continuous attention. The design and implementation of taxes have changed throughout history, triggered by technological innovations like writing itself, bookkeeping, the computer and the Internet. Each of these changes has impacted the efficiency, effectiveness and fairness of taxation processes. Today, digital innovations are driving societal and economical transformations resulting in a range of challenges and opportunities for tax administrations and policymakers.

Place within the minor 'Tax and Society'
The minor ‘Tax and Society’ focusses on how national and international tax policy can help build fair and prosperous societies in the face of major societal challenges. This course introduces students to the study of the administration and governance of modern tax systems as they respond to the challenges posed by digitalization, such as the lack of control over foreign online platforms, the disruption caused by crypto currencies and the rise of artificial intelligence.

Design of the course
During this course we study how new phenomena resulting from digitalization pose challenges to contemporary tax systems, urging systems to adapt. We start by developing two analytical tools. First, we study the ‘vectors of digital transformation’ as an analytical tool to delineate phenomena resulting from digitalization. Second, we explore the anatomy of tax systems and their three core elements: (i) who is taxed, (ii) what is taxed, and (iii) how taxes are effectuated and controlled. This enables us to differentiate domains of a tax system affected by digital phenomena. Equipped with these analytical tools, we proceed to the second part of the course where we employ these tools to analyse a weekly case study involving a digital phenomenon, and explore possible solutions. Each year we select five cases with high societal and scholarly relevance. Examples include: e-commerce, gig and sharing platforms, cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), digital businesses, data monetization, digital services, artificial intelligence, the metaverse, remote work and digital nomadism.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will understand how modern tax systems evolve in relation to social and economic changes driven by digitalization and will be able to identify and analyse the opportunities and challenges that emerge from it.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • delineate social and technological developments that are currently pressing on tax systems;

  • differentiate which domains of a tax system (as identified during the course) are affected and explain the impact in relation to specific social or economic developments resulting from digitalization;

  • present an analysis and argument both verbally and in writing.


See MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Combined lecture and seminar

  • Number of meetings: 7 x 3 hours combined lecture and seminar (consisting of theory, stakeholder guest lectures and student panel discussions).

  • Names of instructors: R. Arendsen, J.I.W. Lock LL.M MSc

  • Guest speakers: TBA via Brightspace

  • Required preparation by students: Required reading, Assignments (see Brightspace)

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Preparatory assignments for, and participation in, class (panel) discussions (20%);

  • Final paper (80%).

Practical assignment with compulsory participation * Percentage of final (calculated) grade: 20%, consisting of preparatory assignments for, and participation in, class (panel) discussions * Resit: resit is not possible, failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components * Carry forward: no. If the practical assignment is passed but the final (calculated) grade is below 5,5 the grade of the practical assignment expires at the end of the academic year in which it was graded

Final paper * Percentage of final (calculated) grade: 80% * Resit: resit of the final paper is possible if the calculated grade (of the practical assignment and final paper) is below 5,5. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course. * Carry forward: yes, one year. If the paper is passed but the final (calculated) grade is below 5,5 the grade of the paper remains valid until the end of the academic year following the academic year in which it was graded.

Submission procedures
Timely submission via Brightspace.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials
Compulsory literature will be announced on Brightspace.

  • Selection of articles and reports (announced via Brightspace)


Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest students), look here (under the Law-tab) for more information on the registration procedure in your situation.


  • Coordinator: R. Arendsen

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25, Room B2.11 (secretariat Tax Law)

  • E-mail:

  • Telephone number: +31 (0) 71 527 7840


  • Institute: Institute of Tax Law and Economics

  • Department: Tax Law

  • Room number secretary: B2.11

  • Opening hours: 09:00-17:00

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 (0) 71 527 8574 / +31 (0) 71 527 7840

  • Email: