560.01 Sales and Value Added Tax Law

SALES AND VALUE-ADDED TAX LAW covers the policy issues, legal frameworks and detailed technical issues related to VAT and retail sales tax systems. Comparisons are drawn between the VAT (a multi-stage consumption tax system used by most countries -- but not the US) and retail sales taxes (the consumption tax adopted by most US states). The class explores variations between the VAT systems and retail sales tax systems in different jurisdictions, in order to highlight key policy issues. The course also highlights innovations in consumption taxes (especially to deal with the digital economy) and the treatment of special sectors such as the real property, financial, agriculture and public interest sectors. Approaches for dealing with the application of VATs and sales taxes in the context of federations and common markets are also considered.

The principal focus is on VAT, because retail sales taxes can be viewed as a single-stage VAT. The aim of the course is to enable you to think about VAT (or sales tax), whether from the perspective of what the law is, what it should be, or how it might be administered. More generally, the course is designed to sharpen your skills to think like a lawyer, like a policymaker, and like a tax administrator.

After taking the course, you should understand how the VAT and retail sales taxes work in practice, and you will have a clear understanding of how consumption taxes differ from income taxes. We will discuss the definition of key legal elements of the VAT (taxpayer, taxable event, tax base, rates, tax period) and how the tax is collected. This analysis should equip you with the ability to address consumption tax issues in the future, or indeed to deal with any tax, since all taxes have these basic common elements.

Fall 2018

Course NumberCourse CreditsEvaluation MethodInstructorMeeting Day/TimesRoom
Final Exam
Peter A. Barnes, Graham Glenday
4:00-5:50 PM
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.560.01.F18
Email list: LAW.560.01.F18@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Areas of Practice