Course code BUS360

BUS360 Taxes, Inequality, and Sustainability I

English course information

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Viser emneinfo for studieåret 2022 - 2023.

Emneansvarlige: Andreas Økland
Studiepoeng: 5
Ansvarlig fakultet: Handelshøyskolen
Frekvens: Annually. First time January 2020.
Undervises på språk: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Begrensning antall plasser:
Undervises i periode:
This course has teaching/evaluation in January block.
Første gang: Studieår 2019-2020
Fortrinnsrett: Priority for M-ØA og M-ECON students. Other masterstudents can sign up for the course if available capacity."First come, first served".
Undervises hvor?: Campus Ås
Emnets innhold:

Dette kurset blir kun gitt på engelsk. 

Taxes and inequality are central topics in the society and for public policy. This course serves as an introduction to these matters. It bridges macro and micro related topics, with emphasis on understanding the basic structure of the tax system, how taxes affect behaviour, and how this again is related to inequality and sustainability.

A key lesson of the course is that sustainability covers all sides of society, not only the environment. The course makes students aware of how firms’ and individuals’ actions regarding taxes affects society and thus sustainability. Central to the course is both the SDG10 "Reduce inequality within and among countries" and the SDG16 "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".

Teaching is research based and policy relevant, both bringing the research frontier into the lecture hall and drawing on current newspaper articles and policy debates. The goal is for the students to get an understanding of the most important and up-to-date research and discussions on taxation and inequality, and to learn how to process, apply and communicate policy relevant research.

As a part of this, the course provides the students with policy relevant writing practice. The home assignment consists of writing a short op-ed article based on a research paper in a group, where the group assignment is random and administered by the course responsible on Canvas.  One motivation for this is to encourage social interaction among the students across set structures. The emphasis for the op-eds is to communicate research insights to the public in a relevant and engaging manner. The course contains lectures in how to read a research paper and how to write an op-ed, and seminar leaders will provide group-level advice in the process. The groups can discuss their topic and how they present it with the seminar leader during assigned seminar hours, but will not get feedback on any written draft prior to handing in.

The deadline for writing the op-ed is short, and this is a good training in independent work for your future professional life, where you might be teamed up with new colleagues to deliver a report within a short deadline. 



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

  • How to write an op-ed and how to cite correctly
  • When should the government intervene in the economy?
  • Inequality - definitions, trends, and measurement challenges
  • Redistribution and the equity-efficiency trade-off
  • Behavioural 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:

  • Have a basic understanding in how to reference work in an academic setting, how to cite without conducting plagiarism, and how to write an op-ed
  • Give an account of basic terminology of taxes, inequality, and sustainability
  • Describe different inequality measures, and 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.
  • 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, as well as ethics related to taxation and tax avoidance
  • Has a basic understanding of the Norwegian tax system and its challenges in a global economy
  • Is trained in reading and processing an academic research paper
  • Can participate in the public debate by writing a research based op-ed article
Combination of physical and pre-recorded. See Canvas for details.
Various course material on the class page on Canvas + seminars.

The course curriculum will be specified on the course page on Canvas.

It will consists of research papers from the research frontier, reports, and newspaper articles, and builds partly on research by Skatteforsk - Center for tax and behavioral research at NMBU:

It will also include selected chapters from Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod, "Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue: Tax Follies and Wisdom through the Ages", Princeton University Press

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

Forutsatte forkunnskaper:
Bachelor degree or equivalent
Anbefalte forkunnskaper:

Combined assessment. Automatic weighting (no weight put on whether the individual grades are strong or weak).

40% of the grade: Assignment: A - E / Ikke bestått 

60% of the grade: Written school exam, 1 hour: A - E / Ikke bestått 

The term paper can be written in Norwegian or English. If the term-paper is not passed, the course has to be taken again. If the exam is not passed, the course has to be taken again; you will not be able to carry forward a term paper grade to the next year. No continuation exam will be arranged in this course.

External examiner will control the quality of syllabus, questions for the final examination, and principles for the assessment of the examination answers.
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. 
Normert arbeidsmengde:
125 timer
The course is open for master students at NMBU and other Norwegian universities.
2,5 ECTS-credits overlap with BUS362
- Approx. 15 hours of lectures + seminars during the course of three weeks. 
Hjelpemidler ved skriftlig eksamen(er): B1 Utdelt kalkulator, ingen andre hjelpemidler
Eksamensdetaljer: Samlet vurdering: Bokstavkarakterer