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International Tax Law

Finding International Tax Law Cases 

There is no international forum for hearing disputes between countries on international tax matters. Cases on international tax law issues are heard in domestic courts or regional courts (such as the European Court of Justice) and are usually disputes between a taxpayer and the government or tax enforcement body.

To find cases, you will either need to search for cases applying and interpreting tax treaties and other international agreements in individual domestic or regional case law databases or use useful commercial online tools such as the following databases:

On Lexis + Australia (UniMelb staff & students). Provides judgments and decisions of major domestic tax cases from all over the world, as well as decisions from the European Court of Justice. Topics covered include: interpretation and application of double taxation conventions based on OECD model provisions, transfer pricing, particularly cases on the application of pricing methodologies and application of controlled foreign corporation rules. The work also examines cross-border enforcement of tax debts and gathering of information, application of general anti-avoidance approaches, taxation and human rights instruments. The reports are issued six times a year and each covers about seven of the most significant cases. Headnotes and commentary are provided. Note: This publication is more selective in its coverage than the IBFD Tax Treaty Caselaw database discussed below.

The IBFD tax research platform (UniMelb staff & students), which contains some useful ways of finding worldwide domestic and regional cases:

  • The Tax Treaty Caselaw database: this database contains over 6500 worldwide full-text domestic decisions and summaries regarding the application and interpretation of international tax agreements. It can be browsed by date or country or searched by country, topic, keyword, OECD Article, related country, taxpayer, date.  
  • The ECJ Caselaw database contains decisions on all tax matters, not only international agreements. To narrow this to search for cases on treaties, select Treaties from the Topic Search menu on the left, then open the + signs to find more specific topics, for example Bilateral Double Tax Relief.

  • Tax Treaty Caselaw Around the Globe is an annual publication available on the IBFD platform, from 2012 to current (UniMelb staff & student access), covering the most important DTA cases decided around the world in that year, and providing a comprehensive global overview of international tax disputes on double tax conventions. Each report is dedicated to a court case or a number of cases on a particular article of the DTA at issue (often based on the OECD or UN Model Conventions) in a certain jurisdiction. The systematic structure of each case allows easy and efficient comparison of the varying application and interpretation of DTAs in different domestic legal regimes. Note: This publication includes cases on DTAs ONLY (ie: not other types of international tax agreements) and is more selective in its coverage than the Tax Treaty Caselaw database discussed above.

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