International tax treaties determine why hedge funds are located where they are, how motion pictures are financed, whether the dispatch of employees abroad is economical, and why financial assets follow prescribed international paths. They determine why Netherlands and Luxembourg have a large positive balance of trade with the United States, and why recording studios are established in the Caribbean. They determine whether bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are really secret. While tax treaties ostensibly are only about dividing up tax bases between countries and exchanging information between sovereigns, in reality they channel the flow of investment and development in the global economy.
This course assumes that students have some familiarity with basic tax treaty concepts and examines how provisions of the OECD Model Treaty and the United States Model Treaty are used by tax practitioners to achieve specific business objectives. Students will acquire an understanding of how treaty provisions help shape economic and financial decisions in different industries and economic sectors. The course uses examples drawn from actual practice to illustrate the creative use of tax treaty provisions. It is designed to be an interactive experience, with students working on case studies, discussing alternative approaches, and using different jurisdictions and changes in the form of the underlying transaction to achieve desirable tax results.