Faculty of Law

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedClayton Second semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Ms Kathryn James


Schumpeter wrote of taxation that "nothing shows so clearly the character of a society and of a civilization as does the fiscal policy that its political sector adopts." (History of Economic Analysis, 1954).

Although the primary function of taxation is to raise revenue to finance the operation of the state, the raising of this revenue gives rise to many issues which lie at the heart of the relationship between the citizen and the state such as:

  • the role of taxation in a market economy
  • who should bear the burden of taxation?
  • what should be taxed - income, consumption, wealth, resources?
  • the role of taxation in achieving outcomes beyond revenue raising including the role of taxation in the redistribution of resources, and the use of tax expenditures to achieve various social, economic and political outcomes
  • the link between the tax and transfer system or, more specifically, the link between taxation and the modern welfare state
  • the political influence of individuals and groups in shaping tax policy and legal outcomes.

Despite the significance of taxation across all levels of our economic, political and legal system, it has been repeatedly recognised that the study of taxation has too often been neglected and wrongly dismissed as the province of the technocrat. This unit encourages students to see the importance of challenging this position and of addressing this neglect because questions of taxation speak to the nature of our economic, social and political system.

This unit seeks to introduce students to the importance of tax policy and provide students with the skills to analyse taxation from a range of policy perspectives. It aims to introduce students to the various disciplines relevant to shaping and understanding taxation including economics, politics and law. Importantly students will be encouraged to develop skills of policy analysis and use these skills to enhance their understanding of issues in relation to tax policy and the development and application of tax law.


Upon completing this unit, students should be able to:

  • analyse the role of taxation in the modern Australian state and within a market economy
  • analyse tax policy from a range of disciplinary perspectives such as law, politics and economics
  • develop a critical appreciation of the significance of key tax policy choices relating to the tax mix (ie the combination of taxes), tax base (what should be taxed), tax rates and taxpaying units (ie who should be taxed)
  • appreciate the role of key norms and values such as equity, efficiency and justice in the tax policy debate
  • develop an understanding of how debates in relation to tax policy affect the practical administration of tax laws
  • apply skills of policy analysis and evaluation to the above issues.


Class participation - 10 percent; Compulsory written assignment (2000 words) - 40 percent; 2 hour exam
30 minutes reading time - 50 percent

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

3 hours per week class contact


Law 1101, Law 2101 and Law 2102