Sustainability and indirect taxes thesis project Erasmus University Rotterdam

Climate change, it can no longer be ignored. Forest fires in Australia, the United States and in Southern Europe this year, the floods in Limburg (South-East of the Netherlands), Belgium and Germany, unique rainfall at the highest point in Greenland and, of course, the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19. We cannot avoid the bad tidings anymore. The cause of all this is man, our own behaviour. Taxes are used as an instrument to change behaviour. For example, the use of the reduced or the general VAT rate is regularly advocated in order to achieve certain behavioral effects. Taxes can also be used to internalize environmental costs. The proceeds of those taxes can then be used for climate purposes. An intriguing area of research.

Three lecturers from Erasmus School of Law (ESL) and Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) – Madeleine Merkx (professor of indirect taxes ESL and ESE), Martijn Schippers (assistant professor ESL) and John Gruson (lecturer ESE) – joined forces and set up a research project in the field of sustainability and indirect taxes in the past academic year. Six students Tax Law or Fiscal Economics, from both the Master Indirect Tax and the Master Direct Tax, researched six different tax themes in the field of sustainability and indirect taxes. Jannemarie Bakker, Wouter Janssen, Tim Raymakers, Philip van Moll, Quiyrine den Brinker and Ikram Bendami presented the results of their research during a mini symposium on August 31, 2021. All six students graduated this Summer.

Three students addressed the largest indirect tax in the Netherlands, VAT, in their research. The subject of Jannemarie Bakker’s master thesis is the use of VAT rates to stimulate the circular economy. In his thesis, Wouter Janssen discusses the VAT margin scheme for second-hand goods in relation to the circular economy. Tim Raymakers performed research into putting taxes on natural resources and pollution, instead of VAT. The other three students focused on various indirect taxes which could be levied on certain products. According to Philip van Moll, the energy tax should be restructured in order to respond to future imbalances in the electricity market. Quiyrine den Brinker analysed the (im)possibilities of a tax on meat and Ikram Bendami chose the taxation on the non-recycled plastics, as introduced by the EU as a new revenue source to the 2021-2027 EU budget which (soon) will be levied at a national level by certain EU member states, as her topic.

The lecturers have enjoyed the commitment of the students involved and the novel ideas they brought forward through their research. This enthusiasm indicates that the research in the field of sustainability and indirect taxation is far from finished. Global developments and (proposed) measures follow each other in rapid succession. It’s in the news almost daily and academic discussions are in full swing. Enough reasons to continue the sustainability thesis project in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Please click on the links below to open/download each thesis.




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