Course code BUS362

BUS362 Corporate Tax and Sustainability

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2020 - 2021 .

Course responsible: Julie Brun Bjørkheim, Andreas Økland, Annette Alstadsæter
ECTS credits: 7.5
Faculty: School of Economics and Business
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
Autumn semester.
Course frequency: Annually.
First time: Study year 2020-2021
Course contents:

Countries around the world struggle with how to curb multinational corporations’ tax minimizing profit shifting. Recent estimates suggest that each year, 40 % of multinational corporate profits are shifted to tax havens, imposing large losses of tax revenues on many countries.

The current Covid-19 induced economic crisis has reduced economic activity across the world at the same time as public spending on various crisis packages, including support packages to the corporate sector, has increased in many countries. The ability to raise tax revenue to finance public spending and the broad welfare state seen in many high-tax countries is now even more pressing.

At the same time, there is increased focus on sustainability, also in tax practices among corporations, policy makers, and the public. However, it is not always clear what a sustainable corporate tax practice means. And it is not always straightforward for corporations to comply with complex tax rules when doing business in a multinational setting.

This interdisciplinary course aims at educating the students about the connection between corporate tax and sustainability within the framework of law, economics, and politics. We cover various topics on political challenges related to tax and sustainability, such as initiatives from governments and international organizations, as well as corporate challenges, such as how to align corporate strategies with sustainable strategies, and how to communicate tax behaviour to interested parties. The course will also give an overview of various international measures / agreements / processes to curb corporations’ profit shifting, in addition to the perspectives of different groups such as consumers, investors and international organizations.

The course is organized in three main modules, where Module 1: Introduction to corporate taxation and sustainability introduces the main concepts, Module 2: The playing field, explores further today’s challenges and measures taken regarding sustainability, climate and tax evasion, and Module 3: The players contains of reflection on company ethics and CSR.

Each module covers a range of relevant perspectives on corporate tax and sustainability, the political environment and international agreements in an engaging narrative with recorded interview content from leading experts from the business sector, tax administrations, academia, and NGOs.

Various course material for each Module will also be available on Canvas, in addition to the recorded interviews/lectures. Each Module ends with a quiz that must be passed in order to continue to the next module.

The course is a joint venture with Lund University, Sweden, and The European Business Network for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility.

Learning outcome:


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

  • Why do governments tax and why do corporations pay tax?
  • What is international tax competition?
  • What is aggressive tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion?
  • How large is the extent of tax planning, and who suffers and benefits from it?
  • What is a sustainable tax practice?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Which measures are taken, and which processes are ongoing to prohibit tax avoidance and tax evasion, nationally and internationally?


After completed course, the student should be able to:

  • Give an account of basic terminology of corporate tax and sustainability.
  • Explain why governments tax and why corporations pay tax.
  • Give an account of different structures and organizational forms of the company.
  • Describe the basic structure and challenges of international tax competition.
  • Apply knowledge to a real world setting and reflect on what it means for a company to act sustainable.
  • Give an account for the roles of OECD, UN, and the EU in international tax coordination.

General qualifications:

After completed course, the student

  • Masters basic corporate tax and sustainability terminology.
  • Has a basic understanding of the role of different stakeholders and corporate governance.
  • Can reflect on the interaction between taxes, inequality, and sustainability.
  • Has a basic understanding of who are the winners and losers from multinational corporations’ profit shifting activities.
Learning activities:

Pre-recorded interviews on Canvas.

Teaching support:
Various course material on the class page on Canvas. Online quiz that needs to be completed for a module before starting a new module.
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 various supporting material.
Recommended prerequisites:
Home exam, three days.
Nominal workload:
225 hours.
Reduction of credits:
2,5 ECTS-credits overlap with BUS360
An external examiner will review the syllabus, assignments and exams.
Examination details: :