Tax Policy

Subject LAWS70319 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

All countries face the challenge of reforming their tax systems to support effective governments in the global era, to take account of increasingly mobile capital and labour, and to establish effective, fair, simple and sustainable tax systems for the future. Australia recently carried out a major tax review process – the review of Australia’s Future Tax System, commonly known as the Henry Tax Review. Other countries have recently undertaken similar reviews. This subject is taught by Greg Smith, a former member of the Review of Australia’s Future Tax System (2009), and engages with the fundamental fiscal policy issues of today for all levels of government. It will analyse the major tax bases available for governments, the interactions of tax law with the transfer system, the challenge of environmentally sustainable taxes and issues of tax law design, complexity and administration for the future.

Principal topics include:

  • Introduction to macroeconomics and fiscal policy
  • Introduction to microeconomics and resource allocation policy
  • Principles, objectives and main concepts in tax policy formulation
  • The social, economic and historical—political contexts of tax policy formulation in Australia
  • Major issues in tax reform in Australia, including in relation to fiscal policy and revenue adequacy, the major tax bases at each level of government, interactions within the tax-transfer system and issues of tax policy design cost, complexity and administration.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the economic underpinnings of taxation policy
  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the key concepts in taxation policy, including recent developments in this field
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding the linkages between taxation policy and the wider economic and social policy context
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving taxation policy
  • Have an advanced understanding of the major issues in tax policy in Australia and able to critically evaluate tax policy options in the Australian context
  • Have a detailed understanding of tax policy principles in the global context
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the development of tax policy, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging issues relating to tax policy
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding tax policy principles to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of tax policy.
  • Take-home examination (100%) (10-13 July)
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) (17 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Government Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Graduate Diploma in Tax
Master of Commercial Law
Master of International Tax
Master of Laws
Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Master of Public and International Law
Master of Tax

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