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WU Vienna Tax law


The University Act provides for a total of 90 ECTS for the LL.M. program. The program is divided into eight blocks of lectures and comprises the following subjects:

International tax planning

  • Although tax treaties generally seek to avoid cross-border disputes by providing a series of rules to allocate tax revenues between the contracting states, the number and magnitude of such disputes continue to grow. This course provides general background regarding the nature of current tax treaty disputes and the practical difficulties encountered in their resolution. It considers the tools currently available for the resolution of such disputes under bilateral tax treaties and other agreements, including the mutual agreement procedure conducted by the competent authorities, advance pricing agreements under bilateral treaties, and the EU multilateral convention on arbitration. The course also discusses the recent OECD and UN consideration of mechanisms to improve dispute resolution, including the broader adoption of mandatory, binding arbitration.
  • The course will cover the following issues: (I.) VAT/GST as an indirect tax on consumption, (II.) VAT in the European Union as a comprehensively harmonized tax, (III.) The principle of neutrality in VAT, (IV.) A primer on VAT assessment, (V.) Exemptions in VAT: the “original sin”, (VI.) Taxation of public bodies, (VII.) Allocation of taxing rights under VAT/GST, (VIII.) Compliance, collection mechanisms, the VAT gap, and anti-fraud measures, (IX.) Policy making and what the outlook for the future is. For each section, the trends globally will be compared with developments within the EU.
  • The use of holding companies has been gaining importance in international tax planning. This course aims at describing the decisive structural and location factors with special attention to the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive. The management of intra-group income transfers with special reference to shareholders costs, repatriation and allocation strategies, as well as viable combinations, is also considered. Vital holding locations are described in more detail. Tax treaties are relevant for the use of holding companies, as they may not be eligible for advantages arising from such treaties.
  • This course analyzes the concept and the different types of permanent establishment, the importance of permanent establishments in trans-national businesses, and the functions of PE clauses in domestic tax law and double tax treaties. Special attention will be given to construction projects, auxiliary activities, agents and sales representatives, and to supply chain structures. The attribution of profits to permanent establishments will also be dealt with, with special reference to and analysis of the OECD Guidelines in this regard. Attention will be paid to the influence of EU law for the taxation of permanent establishments in international tax law.
  • International tax planning has gained a lot of attention from both the perspective of taxpayers and tax authorities. This course deals with the building blocks of international taxation, such as the concept of permanent establishment and the arm’s length principle, as applied for international tax planning purposes. It focuses on the boundaries between legitimate tax planning, tax avoidance, and tax evasion, by analyzing relevant case law. Finally, it deals with some tax planning schemes for multinational enterprises and the current debate around tax compliance.
  • The world of tax has changed. Society demands transparency and social responsible tax behavior of multinational companies. Where it used to be the field of (tax) legal specialists only, nowadays the strategic and operational side of tax is getting more attention from ‘stakeholders’ like accountants, supervising bodies, (tax) administrations and NGOs. Regulators and the OECD come up with new compliance enforcement strategies based on cooperation (‘trust’) and self-assessment. Companies must be in control of tax. The lecture is an introduction in tax risk management covering topics such as tax strategy and communication, aligning business & tax operations, tax accounting, tax assurance, and tax data management.
  • Globalization has greatly increased the number of international mergers and acquisitions. This course aims at providing a comprehensive analysis of the tax aspects of such transactions from the perspective of European law. On the basis of the EU Merger Directive and the case law of the European Court of Justice, topics such as the (cross-border) utilization of losses, taxation of hidden reserves, anti-abuse limitations, and the relationship between the Merger Directive and the fundamental freedoms will be discussed.
  • Enterprises operating across borders in Europe are confronted with heterogeneous corporate taxation despite EU-wide tax harmonization. This can be mainly put down to the fact that tax sovereignty has basically rested with the Member States, despite competences being passed on to the European Union. Within their retained national sovereignty, in line with targets defined by them and according to their traditions, the Member States collect taxes differently. Enterprises have to adapt their organization, finance, and channels of distribution to the range of tax conditions in the Member States and aim to optimize their tax situation by considering all other company objectives. With the help of case studies, this course looks at how to determine goals and means of tax planning within the EU.
  • This course introduces individual and corporate taxation under French domestic tax law. Special issues such as the taxation of foreign and domestic entities subject to special tax regulations are addressed. Furthermore, this course covers mergers and the taxation of groups, international taxation, the taxation of foreign income to domestic recipients, and the taxation of domestic income to foreign recipients, as well as procedural issues, reporting, and the exchange of information.
  • Names of Japanese companies are all too familiar. The business and tax environment in Japan, however, remains a mystery to many people living outside Japan. To bridge the gap, this course introduces the basic structure of Japanese taxation and examines some of the recent tax controversies involving international transactions.
  • Tax planning in multinational companies is seen from a corporate perspective and as an integral part of business planning. Its scope and priorities depend on the business concepts and business models employed, the global footprint, and value chain structures established, as well as the tax management and tax risk approach chosen; it is also influenced by the company’s legal structure and headquarters/holding domicile. The course addresses topics in the area of corporate tax policies/tax risk management, governances in taxes, roles and responsibilities of tax functions, but mainly focuses on typical tax planning and tax risk management topics in multinational companies, such as (I) group legal structures, (II) transfer pricing methods and ways to avoid/minimize double taxation, (III) design of charges/cost allocations schemes for management and administrative services, (IV) international external group financings and intra-group capital and lending structures, (V) design of license arrangements and cost-sharing arrangements for research and development and related intangibles, (VI) design of intra-group trademark ownerships and licensing arrangements, (VIII) important permanent establishment issues and (VIII) transfer pricing documentation.
  • The course will be a broad-based discussion of US cross-border tax issues, from both an inbound and outbound perspective. Planning considerations will be emphasized. The first day will concentrate on investments by foreign persons into the United States, and will include taxation at source on portfolio income, net income taxation, use of hybrid and reverse hybrid vehicles, and related treaty issues. The second day will concentrate on foreign activities of US taxpayers and will include an overview of major transfer pricing issues from the US perspective.
  • The EU fundamental freedoms and secondary law provide companies with opportunities to structure their tax affairs efficiently and neutrally (e.g., the Parent-Subsidiary-Directive and the Interest-Royalties-Directive), but EU state aid law and secondary law also set limits to tax planning (e.g., the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives). This course will create a basis for understanding the European framework for cross-border tax planning and its limits.
  • The OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, the final output of which was delivered in October 2015, represents the most important development of the last decades in international taxation. The BEPS project made several recommendations for changes to tax treaties in order to make them less susceptible to the use in aggressive tax planning structures shifting profits from high tax to low tax jurisdictions and eroding the tax base of countries where actual profit-generating activities take place. The lecture examines to what extent and in which form these recommendations have been implemented in the existing treaty network. It aims at providing an understanding of the rationale and mechanism of the rules implemented in treaties as a result of BEPS. In addition, it discusses what scope is left for tax planning using tax treaties in the post-BEPS era by assessing the effectiveness of the BEPS-related treaty changes and the room inadvertently or purposefully left open for tax competition.
  • The aim of this lecture is to develop an understanding of the principal transfer pricing rules and concepts under U.S. law. After introducing the transfer pricing issue and its role in international taxation, the lecture will discuss the transfer pricing legal framework, transfer pricing methods, certain collateral aspects of transfer pricing adjustments, and transfer pricing practice and procedure.

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