LAWS3147 Elements of Income Tax Law

Student: Alice Chow 

Please give us a brief overview of the main topics studied in the course
This is a foundation course for other tax electives, in which students will attain a firm grounding for the principles of income tax law. For non-commerce students who are wary of numbers and calculations, it is a highly satisfying course due to the skills developed in reading and applying tax provisions. Calculations in topics such as capital gains tax are basic and in accordance with very straightforward formulas set out in legislation. The first half of the course deals with ordinary concepts of income and fringe benefits tax. The second half of the course deals with allowable deductions, capital gains tax, tax accounting and Part IVA tax avoidance schemes.

What were the course assessments and your thoughts about them?
Tax policy is considered in the lecture material, but the focus of the course is primarily problem solving, as reflected in the take-home problem question assessment format in both the mid-session assignment and final exam. There is ample opportunity to receive feedback from the lecturer on practice problem-solving questions on a weekly basis, and the take-home exam tends to consist of questions modelled on the revision questions looked at in class.

What did you like about the course?
I liked that the course covered topics that have practical application, such as calculating fringe benefits tax, allowable deductions and capital gains tax.  The interesting and unusual facts of many of the case extracts also helped me to tackle the substantial number of readings set for each week. Overall, the course has made me more commercially-minded and more alive to the tax implications of different types of transactions.

What could be improved?
I personally found that Part IVA tax avoidance schemes and tax planning were areas of income tax law with the most conceptually complex and engaging case law, and would have liked the topic to be covered more thoroughly. I also think that the course readings list from the textbook could be refined and better synchronized with the material covered in the lectures.