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Tax Behavior


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.


Taxes are instrumental to building fair and prosperous societies. Their success is, however, dependent on how individuals behave in response to them. This course provides an introduction to the field of empirical legal studies. Rather than taking a doctrinal approach to tax law (sometimes referred to as ‘law in the books’) this course seeks to understand how tax law works in practice, which is of is of vital importance for policymakers whishing to design tax policies that achieve their goals.

The course introduces students to commonly applied methodological tools including both qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative research methods (e.g., experiments). Students will explore the application of these methods and study them ‘in action’ by analising a number of significant societal challenges that may be addressed through the tax system. These may include the introduction of carbon taxes to mitigate the effects of climate change and so-called ‘sugar taxes’ to encourage people to make healthier life-choices.

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 behavioral effects of a selected number of tax policies and provides students with an understanding of the tools that can be applied to study the societal impacts of tax policy.

Design of the course
Each seminar will explore a different methodological tool and how it can been applied to study the behavioul effect of tax policies. Each seminar will start by introducing a tax policy and a methodological tool that can be used to study this issue. The second part of the seminar will dive deeper into the application by analysing an academic article 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

(This is a preliminary list that may be subject to change.)

Course objectives

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

  • have knowledge about the fundamentals of empirical legal studies and the behavioural aspects of a number of tax policies in relation to their intended behavioural effects;

  • be aware of tax themes studied by empirical legal scholars;

  • understand of commonly applied methodological tools in the field of empirical legal research;

  • select an appropriate research method for empirical research questions in taxation;

  • interpret and critically assess empirical legal research in taxation (in writing).


See MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of 5 seminars of 3 hours each (web based and physical lectures).
In preparation of the seminars, students will be asked to read one or two research articles and given some questions to think about in relation to the articles. The answers to these questions do not have to be submitted.

We encourage on campus attendance. Active participation is appreciated. A video recording of the lecture will be uploaded on Brightspace the day after the lecture.

Assessment method

Mode of assessment

  • Assignment (100%).

Students will be asked to write a short paper about an empirical research report provided by the course instructor. In this paper, students are required to explain the strengths and weaknesses of the study and write recommendations. Should the final grade be lower than 5,5, students are offered a retake of the assignment.

Turn-it-in in via Brightspace (plagiarism check).

Reading list

Selection of papers (to be announced on 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: Elody Hutten

  • Work address: KOG, Steenschuur 25, (please contact secretary B2.11)

  • Contact information:

  • Phone number: +31 (0)71 527 7840


  • Institute: Institute of Tax Law and Economics

  • Department: Tax Law

  • Room number secretary: B2.11

  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 715277840

  • Email: