Taxing Issues


This course examines the main economic  principles behind the design of tax systems. Adopting an international perspective, it covers the trade-offs between equity, efficiency and simplicity, and the main features of different types of income, consumption, and environmental taxes. Analytic frameworks are developed that enable participants to understand the potential economic consequences of different types of taxes.  A focus of the course is the potential economic and distributional consequences of New Zealand’s tax system, which differs significantly from the tax systems adopted in most OECD countries.

Payment is possible by invoice, purchase order and credit card.  To register click on the button below and you will be directed to our secure online form.

SKU: Tax-2023 Category: Tag:


With Andrew Coleman, Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Cost: This course is provided by the Government Economics Network (GEN) at a cost of $750 plus GST per person.

Date/Time: Dates coming soon

Target audience and assumed background

This course will be most helpful to policy advisors who wish to understand the economic effects of different types of taxes and the trade-offs typically considered when new taxes are introduced or existing taxes are changed. It will be particularly useful to those who wish to consider the lessons that can be learned from OECD countries that have significantly different tax systems than New Zealand.

The course assumes some familiarity with basic microeconomic analytical concepts and graphical techniques: for example, the elasticity of supply and demand, income and substitution effects, and the graphical representation of utility maximisation subject to budget constraints. From time to time basic algebra will be used to demonstrate important concepts.


This course provides an introduction to the economics of taxes. The course:

  • describes the basic “optimal tax theory” perspective of how taxes typically involve choices between equity, efficiency, simplicity, and political sustainability.
  • explains the basic principles involved with tax analysis including the incidence of tax, calculation of marginal and average tax rates, and the distortionary effects of taxes.
  • explains the key differences between income and consumption/ expenditure taxes, and the different types of income and consumption taxes that are used/ could be used. It discusses evidence on the empirical importance of these differences.
  • outlines the main differences between New Zealand’s tax system and the tax systems used in most other countries, and discusses the potential consequences of these choices.
  • explains the effects, benefits and limitations of environmental taxes, including a discussion of the Weitzman principle on the optimality of emissions trading systems relative to environmental taxes and the second best theory.

Course objectives

On completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • understand the main features of New Zealand’s tax system, and its points of difference with other OECD countries;
  • understand and use the basic economic frameworks used to analyse the equity and efficiency consequences of different types of taxes;
  • discuss the costs and benefits of changing existing taxes, or introducing new taxes, to raise revenue; and
  • evaluate and critique fiscal policy recommendations from a broad international tax perspective.

Session outline and delivery

Day 1 – a description of the basic types of taxes, and analytical concepts. Fairness, optimal tax theory, and tax incidence.

Day 2 – the similarity and differences of different types of income taxes and consumption taxes. The theory of capital gains taxes. Wealth taxes.

Day 3 – efficiency issues pertaining to income and consumption taxes. Incentive effects, participation and marginal effects, and deadweight losses.

Day 4 – environmental taxes, the Weitzman uncertainty principle, and the theory of second best.

Day 5 – final moot session: where participants engage in structured debates about tax topics.

Much of the course is lecture based. Since the aim is to expose students to the core analytic ideas in tax theory, participants will have the opportunity to do some in-class exercises in groups for practice.   Presentation slides and materials will be circulated, and some analytic examples will be tackled. There will be also class discussion on contemporary New Zealand topics in most sessions; participants will be encouraged to contribute to these discussions. Participants will be asked to participate in a final structured moot where they debate in teams topics of contemporary interest selected by the class.

Cancellation policy

By submitting this Registration Form, you are confirming your availability to attend the GEN Training Course.

  1. Cancellation will not be accepted. The booking will be charged and invoiced with the full fee.
  2. If a registrant is unable to attend the course, the registration may be transferred to another suitable person to attend 2 days before start. All transfer requests must include the new attendee’s name, email address and telephone number and received in a written format and can be emailed to
  3. No refunds will be given by GEN for no-shows.

DECLARATION: I hereby certify that I am duly authorised to complete this registration form and have read and understand the terms and conditions as stipulated above.