Taxation of Internationally Active Enterprises

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Type


Course Organization

This course will be held as an intensive course with 4 hours per week in May and June.


5 (if course has been attended regularly and exam has been passed)


This course will be taught in every or in every other summer semester. It will be available in the summer term 2020.

Time Schedule and Course Venue

An up-to-date electronic course catalogue for the summer semester will be available on the website from late February to mid August. Please select "Fachbereiche" - "Rechtswissenschaft" - "Staatsexamensstudiengang" and "Rechtswissenschaft (SPO 2015)" in order to access the Law courses.

Content of the Course

Economic globalization is increasing ever more rapidly. That is why international taxation is more often discussed today than most other taxes. Not only people and firms that pay tax to other countries need to know about international tax law; stay-at-home taxpayers also need understand how this area of tax law affects their own tax burdens. Clever tax planning by internationally active firms often disappoints the expectations of their home countries’ tax collectors, and those countries must raise taxes on residents to make up for this.

It is possible to learn about these tax avoidance strategies without studying the tax law of any single country in detail. Income taxation is the kind of tax that creates opportunities for aggressive tax avoidance. The details of how income is taxed differ from one country to another, but an acquaintance with the basic pattern of income taxation is background enough for acquiring a strong basic knowledge of international tax rules.

This course provides an overview of the income taxation of cross-border transactions between the USA and Germany, a pattern of taxation that closely resembles that between each of these two countries and other countries. Every country that has an income tax must have rules for how the income tax applies to nonresidents of the country and, in some cases, how it applies to residents when they make income abroad. Countries in some cases enter into bilateral treaties with each other, changing the aspects of their default rules that might deter trade and other cross-border activities of their residents, both individuals and corporations. These tax treaties give residents of the treaty partners a choice between the treaty partners’ unilateral income tax laws and a simplified, less burdensome regime.

The course examines both aspects of the relevant tax law in Germany and US-American tax codes as well as in the Germany-US tax treaty. In order to bring this material to life, roughly half of the lecture series deals with hypothetical, and sometimes actual, cases that arise under these rules. It also focuses on unintended tax planning opportunities that these tax rules and the Germany-USA Double Tax Treaty provide. A comparison of the resulting bilateral tax regime of the two countries reveals many common features, even if the tax treaty is not taken into account. Both the unilateral and treaty aspects of US-American and German tax rules for cross-border business activity will be surveyed. The taxation by the USA and Germany of their residents’ economic activities abroad is also covered.

Restricted Enrollment

yes (that means that the number of participants is limited and that you might not get a place in this course)

Course Registration

via Campus Management

Please sign up for this course under the module "Study Program Themis & Overseas - Module 7".
registration period: 1 - 9 April 2020, 12 p.m. (noon)

In order to know if you have obtained a place in this course, please check out your course plan on Campus Management (tab "Stundenplan") from 10 April 2020.

As long as there are still seats available after the registration period has expired, they will be allocated according to the principle "first come, first served" if you sign up by 30 April 2020.

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 1 April - 30 April 2020

After the regular drop period you can only drop this course with a valid cause until 14 days prior to the exam. Please contact the International Office at the Law Department if you have to use this option.

Type of Exam

There will be a written final examination.

Exam Period

The exam will take place after the end of this course.

Registration for the Exam

Students will automatically be registered for the exam when they sign up for this course.

De-Registration from the Exam

Students who drop this course via Campus Management are automatically de-registered from the exam. Students who do not drop this course via Campus Management and do not take the exam, are going to finish this course with a non-passing grade (0 points).

Grade Release

via Campus Management