BUS360 Taxes, Inequality, and Sustainability


Ansvarlig fakultet:Handelshøyskolen

Emneansvarlig:Andreas Økland

Campus / nettbasert:Undervises campus Ås

Undervisningens språk:Engelsk


Forventet arbeidsmengde:125 timer

Undervisnings- og vurderingsperiode:Emnet starter i januarblokken. Emnet har undervisning/vurdering i januarblokken.

Om dette emnet

Dette emnet 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 the Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

Dette lærer du


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

  • Basic knowledge of the role of taxes in modern societies
  • Redistribution and the equity-efficiency trade-off
  • Behavioural responses to taxes: Real, avoidance, and evasion.
  • Inequality - definitions, trends, and measurement challenges
  • Challenges to taxing capital in a globalized world
  • Tax havens and individuals' offshore wealth
  • How to write an op-ed and how to cite correctly


After completed course, the student should be able to:

  • 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
  • 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

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 consist of research papers from the research frontier, reports, and newspaper articles, and builds partly on research by Skatteforsk - Skatteforsk - Center for Tax Research at NMBU: www.nmbu.no/fakultet/hh/forskning/forskningssentre/skatteforsk

    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: eepurl.com/geKabH

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

    40% of the grade: Assignment: A - E / Fail

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

    The term paper has to be written in English. (NB: New from 2024) 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.

    All parts of a combined assessment must be passed in the same semester to pass the course. A retake exam is not organized in this course. Those who do not pass need to retake the whole course.

    Skriftlig eksamen Karakterregel: Bokstavkarakterer Hjelpemiddel: B1 Utdelt kalkulator, ingen andre hjelpemidler Oppgave Karakterregel: Bokstavkarakterer
  • 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 (studieveileder-hh@nmbu.no) for admission to the course.
  • - Approx. 16 hours of lectures + seminars during the course of three weeks.
  • 2,5 ECTS overlap with BUS362 Corporate Tax and Sustainability
  • The course is open for master students at NMBU and other Norwegian universities.