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International Tax Law For Multinational Enterprises


STUDENTEN FISCAAL RECHT KUNNEN NIET DEELNEMEN (ivm overlap met verplichte vakken internationaal belastingrecht)

Admission requirements

Successful completion of at least one year of university education in law. Proficiency in English both orally and in writing. The overall maximum number of students in the course is 25. We will be admitting max. 15 exchange students to the course as well as max. 10 law students (non-tax).


In today’s world many companies operate across borders. We call them multinational enterprises. In a simple form a company resident in Germany has a sales office in Belgium. In a more complex case a company may have its headquarters in Japan, the production facilities in China, while the research and development is done in the Netherlands, the brand name is kept in a company on the Cayman Islands and the sales are done in many countries across the world.

Multinational enterprises encounter taxation in all the countries they are active in. This course explores the double taxation, low taxation and the double non-taxation that may arise in those cases. We will study why and how countries tax multinational enterprises and how tax treaties for the avoidance of double taxation function. We will also pay attention to recent developments that have caused disapproval in society about the level of taxes paid by multinationals (e.g., LuxLeaks, Starbucks and the Panama Papers) and we will discuss the role and dilemma of governments in tax avoidance: they want to attract businesses and also improve the rules. We will also discuss the role of multinationals themselves: they want to maximize profits, but may want to behave more socially responsible and pay ‘a fair share’ of tax. We will not go into details of tax systems of specific countries, but we will study the general mechanisms in domestic tax systems and in double tax treaties. We will also discuss the solutions proposed by the OECD and the EU for tax avoidance by multinationals.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The principal objectives of this course are to introduce students to why and how countries typically tax multinational enterprises, to the role of tax treaties and to the phenomenon of tax avoidance and the dilemmas faced by both countries and multinationals in their attitudes towards tax avoidance.

Achievement levels
By the end of the course the students:

  • Will have a basic understanding of why and how countries tax multinational enterprises

  • Will have gained basic knowledge of how tax treaties function

  • Will have a basic understanding of the phenomenon of tax avoidance. Students will be familiar with the elements of tax systems used for tax avoidance, and they will be able to think and argue in an informed and relevant manner about the position of both countries and multinational enterprises in this field. They will also have a broad idea of the solutions presently debated.


The course is scheduled to take place in September and October 2016. During this period there will be two sessions held during five weeks (on Mondays and Thursdays). The detailed timetable for this course will be published on Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

Interactive lectures
The course will be taught through 10 interactive classes (2 × 45 minutes each). Every class session which will consist of (a mix of) a traditional / video lectures, class discussions based on assignments prepared and student presentations. Each student is required to give a 5-10 minute presentation during one of the lectures. Furthermore students are required to submit assignments in preparation of each class (through Blackboard).


Other methods of instruction

Assessment method

Regular examination

The final grade for this course is based on two elements:
1. Final, written exam at the end of the course (60%); and
2. Participation during the course, including the student presentation and assignments submitted (40%).

A passing grade for the course is 5.5 or higher.

Students who fail to obtain a passing grade for the regular exam are entitled to a re-examination. Grades awarded as part of the regular examination process are not carried over to the re-examination. The re-examination consists of an individual oral exam, which determines 100% of the grade.

The re-examination is open only to course participants who have (1.) actively participated in the course and (2.) taken the final, written exam. If extenuating circumstances apply, an exception to the aforementioned rule can be made by the course coordinator based on a written and substantiated request from the student.

Areas to be tested within the exam
All subjects taught in the lectures and seminars, all reading material, including additional materials published on Blackboard, all other instructions and skills taught during the course.


More information on this course is offered on Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • Brian J. Arnold, International Tax Primer 3rd edition (Kluwer Law International, 2016)

  • OECD Model Tax Convention 2014 and Commentaries (available for download on and for browse on

  • OECD BEPS-documents to be determined (available for download on

  • Additional materials will be posted on Blackboard


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Exchange students have priority and will be registered for the course first. Any remaining seats will be available for students from Leiden University and other Dutch Universities.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Ms. Prof.dr. T. Bender

  • Work address: KOG building, room B2.21

  • Email:

  • Telephone number secretary: 071 – 527 7840


For questions regarding this course, please contact the secretariat of the Department of Tax Law:

  • Institute: Department of Tax Law and Economics

  • Department: Tax Law

  • Room number secretary: B2.11

  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00

  • Telephone number secretary: 071 – 527 7840

  • Email:


If you have questions regarding the course, please contact the secretariat of the Department of Tax Law (details above).