• Class Number 8554
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Robert Breunig
    • Prof Robert Breunig
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course is an introduction to the economic analysis of incentives generated by tax systems and income transfer programs. The emphasis is on understanding how, and the extent to which, individuals and firms react to those policies – the central question addressed in the growing field of empirical public finance. The discussion on key design elements of those policies are expected to foster students’ understanding of important trade-offs involved in implementing government policies. The course will cover the following topics: tax incidence, efficiency and optimal taxation, income taxation and labour supply, taxes on consumption, taxes on savings, taxes on investment and corporate taxation. Examples will be drawn from taxes and income transfer programs implemented in Australia and internationally. Particular attention will be paid to the application of quasi-experimental methods to public finance. By reading articles that apply quasi-experiments for each topic, students are expected to develop a practical understanding of issues involved in taking econometric models to the real world. Students will be exposed to varieties of estimation techniques.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this course, students should:

(a)    Understand key features of major fiscal institutions and their behavioural implications

(b)    Be able to analyse incentives generated by government policies

(c)     Formulate quasi-experimental analysis

(d)    Be able to critically evaluate quasi-experimental studies

(e)   Be able to understand and assess estimation results reported in journal articles

Research-Led Teaching


Required Resources

Gruber, J. (2016) Public Finance and Public Policy. Fifth edition. Macmillan Learning. ISBN-13: 978-1-4641-4333-5

Tax and Transfer Policy Institute Tax Fact Series (https://taxpolicy.crawford.anu.edu.au/taxpolicy-publications/tax-facts)

Tax and Transfer Policy Institute Working Paper Series (https://taxpolicy.crawford.anu.edu.au/publication)

Abelson, P. (2018) Public Economics: Principles and Practice. Available online at: http://www.appliedeconomics.com.au/publications/public-economics/index.htm

Tax by design. The final report of the Mirrlees Review. Available online at: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5353

Australia's Future Tax System. Final Report. Available online at: http://taxreview.treasury.gov.au/content/FinalReport.aspx?doc=html/Publications/Papers/Final_Report_Part_1/index.htm

Barr, N. A. (1992). Economic theory and the welfare state: a survey and interpretation, Journal of Economic Literature 30(2): 741–803.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to the Australian Tax System; Tax System Design Principles; Fairness Gruber (chapters 1, 2 & 18); Resources from Tax and Transfer Policy Institute (TTPI) webpage
2 Theoretical tools Gruber (chapter 2)
3 Empirical tools Gruber (chapter 3) & TBA
4 Tax Incidence and Tax Salience Gruber (chapter 19) & TBA
5 Efficiency and Optimal Taxaation Gruber (chapter 20) & TBA
6 Income taxation and labour supply Gruber (chapter 21)
7 Elasticity of Taxable Income Breunig and Johnson (2019)
8 Consumption Taxes Gruber (chapter 25)
9 Taxes on savings and investment Gruber (chapter 22)
10 Taxes on risk-taking and wealth Gruber (chapter 23)
11 Corporate taxes Gruber (chapter 24)
12 Special topics TBA

Tutorial Registration

Only one tutorial.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Weekly study questions 10 % 29/07/2019 05/08/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Quiz One 10 % 20/08/2019 02/09/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Midterm examination 20 % 16/09/2019 01/10/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Quiz two 10 % 08/10/2019 21/10/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Final Examination 50 % 31/10/2019 28/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


There is a midterm and a final examination

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 29/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/08/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Weekly study questions

Short questions which will be due at noon on each Monday of semester beginning 29 July.

Feedback will be provided by noon the following Monday.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 20/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 02/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Quiz One

The quiz will cover material from lecture, weekly study questions, readings and tutorials in the first 5 weeks of the course.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 16/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 01/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Midterm examination

Midterm examination will be held in week 7 with the specific date to be confirmed by the ANU examination office.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 08/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 21/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Quiz two

The quiz will cover material from lecture, weekly study questions, readings and tutorials in the first 5 weeks of the course.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 31/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final Examination

Final Examination will be held during the examination period with the specific date to be confirmed by the ANU examination office.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Prof Robert Breunig
02 6125 2148

Research Interests

See https://crawford.anu.edu.au/people/academic/robert-breunig

Prof Robert Breunig

Prof Robert Breunig
6125 2148

Research Interests

Prof Robert Breunig

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions