College of Law Offers First-Ever International Tax Law Course, in Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Taught by Dean Craig M. Boise and alumnus Marnin J. Michaels L’96, G’96, the College's first-ever, two-credit International Tax Law course wrapped up its study abroad portion in the Swiss resort town of Saas-Fee on March 18, 2018, after a series of seminars, lectures, and other events across two European financial capitals.
The course--subtitled "The Evolving Role of International Tax, Transparency, and Tax Equalization"--introduced students to international tax law matters from multiple perspectives encompassing the collection and distribution of taxes. It began with a Feb. 18, 2018, introductory session in Syracuse, NY, before 20 students travelled to Switzerland and Liechtenstein during Spring Break, to meet with representatives of financial firms, government offices, universities, and banks. Throughout the course, students were introduced critical concepts, such as the differences between the civil and common law systems, the nature of legal entities in both systems, tax advising for clients, measuring risk and intangibles, the application of various tax regimes, and reporting standards and related regulatory issues.
“This course pushed me to think about tax law, nationality status, and what it means to be a global citizen in new ways," says 2L Zoe Whitehouse. "It provided an invaluable opportunity to engage with, and hear from, practitioners, and academics at the epicenter of the financial world.”
In Switzerland, students engaged with the Chair of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce; the Swiss Federal Tax Administration's Head of Tax Policy; the Managing Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for UBS bank; the Head of Tax for Bank Vontobel AG; and Symantec's Head of Legal; among others. On March 13, the group sat down with Richard Gassmann, a counsel for corporate and tax law firm Baker McKenzie Zurich, where Michaels is Partner. Later that day, Baker McKenzie hosted a reception for the Syracuse visitors.
Traveling to the nearby principality of Liechtenstein on March 14, the class visited with representatives of private wealth firm Kaiser Partner; Katja Gey of the Liechtenstein Tax Administration; and Heinz Frommelt of Sele Frommelt & Partner, a commercial and tax law firm. The students also visited the Liechtenstein parliament in the capital of Vaduz, before returning to Switzerland and the Alpine town of Saas-Fee. There the group heard from two academics, Rene Matteotti of the University of Zurich and Robert Danon of the University of Lausanne.
The course concludes in April with another session in Syracuse, where student groups will present their final projects—an analysis of hypothetical client problem—as well as share their reflections about the course and study abroad trip.