The fifth and last research line focusses on comparative research. This research line has two streams.
1. The first stream investigates local, regional, national, European and international problems from a comparative perspective. Structural similarities and differences between tax systems are the main object of the research. The research for instance includes the status of legal principles, interpretation methods, measures against aggressive tax planning, incentives for research and development, autonomy of local authorities and the government as a taxpayer.
The purpose is to understand similarities and differences in tax systems and to propose new approaches, both from a multidisciplinary perspective (law, economics, sociology, philosophy, psychology or history).
The comparative research also contributes to the other research lines of Antwerp Tax Academy (i.e. the ability-to-pay principle, taxes as an instrument for promoting entrepreneurship, fiscal federalism and the tax status of private assets).
2. The second stream investigates the functions of the comparative legal research method in fiscalibus.
First, literature argues that comparative research increases the knowledge of one’s own law, since it broadens the frame of reference. As such comparative research may lead to new approaches to understand and improve one’s own law.
Second, national tax systems are not mutually coherent, resulting in a lack of coordination (e.g. derogation to the ability-to-pay principle, double taxation, gaps leaving room for aggressive tax planning). Comparative research increases the understanding of other tax systems and contributes to the alignment of tax systems.
Finally, it is subject of debate whether the comparative method’s functions are even wider. The European Court for instance uses this method when interpreting human rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Also, certain national courts use this method when interpreting national tax law.
This research line investigates the functions of the comparative research method in fiscalibus: what are its opportunities and its limits?