Course code BUS360

BUS360 Taxes, Inequality, and Sustainability I

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2019 - 2020 .

Course responsible: Annette Alstadsæter
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: School of Economics and Business
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course has teaching/evaluation in January block.
Course frequency: Annually. First time January 2020.
First time: Study year 2019-2020
Preferential right:
Priority for M-ØA og M-ECON students started autumn 2019. Other masterstudents can sign up for the course if available capacity."First come, first served".
Course contents:

This course bridges macro and micro related topics and brings sustainability and inequality into the curriculum under the broader umbrella of taxes. Emphasis is on understanding the basic structure of the tax system, how taxes affect behavior by individuals, and how this again is related to inequality and sustainability. Teaching is research based and draws on current newspaper articles and policy debates. The course provides the students with policy relevant writing practice, as the home assignment consists in writing a research based op-ed article, with a possibility to be published on

BUS360 will take you through the basic concepts and definitions within tax and inequality theory. In the companion course BUS361, we use these insights to learn how taxes affect firms` investment and profit shifting decisions.

Learning outcome:


After completed course, the student should have knowledge on the topics covered by the course:

  • When should the government intervene in the economy?
  • Inequality - definitions, trends, and measurement challenges
  • Redistribution and the equity-efficiency trade-off
  • Behavioral responses to taxes: Real, avoidance, and evasion.
  • Challenges to taxing capital in a globalized world
  • Tax havens and individuals` offshore wealth


After completed course, the student should be able to:

  • Give an account of basic terminology of taxes, inequality, and sustainability
  • Describe under which conditions the government should intervene in the economy
  • Describe different inequality measures
  • Give an account for trends in inequality across time and countries as well as measurements challenges
  • Explain the tension between efficiency and redistribution - how political instability may arise if the losers from globalization, sectoral growth and restructuring are not compensated by the winners.
  • Describe the basic structure of the Norwegian tax system and relate it to other countries
  • Give an account of various behavioral responses to taxes
  • Describe the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance, as well as give examples of both
  • Give an account of challenges to taxing individual income and wealth in a globalized world
  • Give an account of individuals` use of tax havens and how it affects tax revenue and inequality

General competence

After completed course, the student

  • Masters basic tax and inequality terminology
  • Is able to reflect on the interaction between taxes, inequality, and sustainability
  • Has a basic understanding of the Norwegian tax system and its challenges in a global economy
  • Can participate in the public debate by writing a research based op-ed article
Learning activities:

Lectures. Group discussions/tasks as part of the lectures. Seminars.

The plan is to organize seminars where the different groups present their draft op-ed and discuss with guidance of seminar leaders, prior to handing it in. More details will be given on the course page on Canvas, which will be the valid description of the term paper. Changes in the organization of the course may occur.

Teaching support:
Various course material on the class page on Canvas.

The course curriculum will be specified on the course page on Canvas and consists of research papers from the research frontier, reports, and newspaper articles, and builds partly on research by NMBU¿s - Center for tax and behavioral research. 

You may up for e-mail updates with relevant tax news here.

Bachelor degree or equivalent
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:
Mandatory to be in class first lecture. The students will be organized in groups at the beginning of the course.

50% of the grade: Term paper:  A - E / Ikke bestått

50% of the grade: Electronic school exam, 2 hours:  A - E / Ikke bestått

The term paper consists in writing an op-ed article as part of a group, in Norwegian or English, intended for a major newspaper, based on a research paper on the reading list, and putting the results into a current context, with the possibility to be published on

Both exams must be passed in order to pass the course. No continuation exam will be arranged in this course.

Nominal workload:
150 hours
Entrance requirements:
The course is open for master students at NMBU.
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:
The course is in English. Incoming students on master level can contact student advisors at the School of Economics and Business ( for admission to the course. 
External examiner will control the quality of syllabus, questions for the final examination, and principles for the assessment of the examination answers.
Examination details: Langsgående vurdering: A - E / F