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History

History of the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law of WU

1968: Former tax inspector Anton Lager becomes the first professor of Financial Law at WU. The Institute for Financial Law, later the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law, is founded under his leadership. Anton Lager becomes Professor Emeritus at WU in 1979.

1981: Wolfgang Gassner succeeds Anton Lager as professor of Financial Law and as Head of Institute. He actively engages in the Institute´s projects until his death in 2004. His main emphasis in research and teaching is on Corporate and International Tax Law.

1990: Eduard Lechner joins the Institute as Professor of Financial Law with a focus on International Tax Law. He remains in this position until 1993 when he leaves for another offer from the University of Vienna.

1991: For the first time, the Institute initiates the "Wirtschaftstreuhänder-Kongress" (Business Trustee Congress) which is followed by the annual "Wiener Bilanzrechtstage" (Accounting Law Conference) as an academic special event hosted by the Tax Law Institute together with WU´s other related economic institutes. In 2011, the Vienna Symposium on Corporate Tax Law takes place as another annual special event in the field of Corporate Tax Law.

1994: Michael Lang succeeds Eduard Lechner in his office as Professor of Financial Law, focusing on International Tax Law. In 1998 he accepts the position as Head of Institute, offered to him by Wolfgang Gassner.

1994: For the first time, the Institute hosts the "Wiener Symposium zum internationalen Steuerrecht" (Vienna Symposium on International Tax Law) which is held annually since then. In the following years, other scientific events are held in English and international congresses follow on an annual basis e.g. Recent and Pending Cases at the CJEU (formerly known as ECJ), the Case Studies Conferences and Academic Conferences in Rust, or the Tax Treaty Case Law around the Globe Conference first held in 2011.

1994: After being elected President of the Austrian International Fiscal Association (IFA), Wolfang Gassner launches an intensive collaboration between the Association and the Institute. Under his management, the IFA organizes the IFA World Congress at the "Wiener Hofburg" in 2004. Vice President Michael Lang later succeeds Wolfgang Gassner as President of the IFA. Josef Schuch, Claus Staringer and later also Georg Kofler and Karoline Spies, become members of the Board of Directors. For the next ten years, Michael Lang is also a member of the Permanent Scientific Committee of the IFA. He is succeeded in this position by Claus Staringer and later on by Georg Kofler.

1997: The first symposium concerning constitutional court proceedings in tax matters is held, in collaboration with the Institute for Austrian and European Public Law (Michael Holoubek) at WU. Since then, the event is held on an annual basis, dealing with topics on the frontier between tax and constitutional law or other fields of public law, resulting in increased cooperation of the Institute’s academics with representatives of constitutional and administrative law.

1998: The first study trip organized by the Institute leads to Luxembourg. Thanks to its sponsors, the Institute is able to organize study trips for its research associates and best students to other European cities at the end of each summer term since then. Up to 50 of the best candidates take part in an intensive program on tax law each year.

1998: The Institute becomes a member of the EUCOTAX (European Universities Cooperating on Taxes). EUCOTAX is a group of Tax Law Institutes from 12 European countries and the USA. Next to research cooperation, it offers an intensive study program for students interested in research on tax law as well as international workshops held every year.

1999: The first full time and part time students enrol in the LL.M- program at WU. The program is initiated by the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law in cooperation with the Akademie der Steuerberater und Wirtschaftsprüfer. In order to internationalize the program, the courses are soon held in English only. The program´s 800 alumni from the last 20 years go on to have careers throughout the globe. The faculty consists of scholars from all continents who come to WU regularly and who encourage cooperation in cross border research.

2002: The Institute becomes a training center of the Marie-Curie Fellowship. Financed by the European Commission, it provides young international researchers with the chance to spend up to 12 months at WU. Hereafter, invitations for research fellowship tenders are issued in cooperation with companies (e.g. OMV, Raiffeisen International, Mondi, Siemens, TPA) to promote scientific research at WU itself. This initiative is especially targeted at citizens of CEE countries. A Visiting Scholars Program is introduced soon after, to provide research stays for incoming visiting scholars, e.g. from China or South America. Five to ten scholars can pursue their research at the same time for the duration of a few months.

2003: Claus Staringer and Josef Schuch are appointed Professors at the Institute. They expand the curriculum and the research activities in the field of International Tax Law and Corporate Tax Law.

2003: Upon recommendation of international consultants, the Special Research Field (SFB) on International Tax Coordination is established at WU. For the first time a program jointly organized by legal and economic experts is selected by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Within the framework of the SFB, Institute researchers cooperate with researches from other fields, thus promoting cross-disciplinary research. During the evaluation processes in 2007 and 2010, the high quality of interdisciplinary tax law research at WU is widely recognized by international consultants.

2005: Pasquale Pistone joins the team of Professors. As the result of a joint application made together with the Institute he starts his work as holder of the European Young Investigator (EURYI) Award and later on in the frame of the ad personam Jean Monnet Chair.

2005: WU adopts the three-cycle system promoted by the Bologna process. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business Law are offered for the first time. Graduates of the Master´s Program in Business Law are qualified to enter professions in the core areas of law. The field of tax law is very important in these programs. Tax law courses are also offered within the WU’s economic and business administration graduate degree (which is also offered in an entirely English version since 2018), as mandatory or optional subjects. From 2011 onwards, a new Master’s degree in Taxation and Accounting also puts emphasis on tax law. From 2005 onwards, building on the Master’s Program in Business Law and on other master or diploma degrees in Law offered at other universities, the doctoral program in Business Law provides the possibility for research associates and other PhD students to write their doctoral thesis on taxation.

2005: The first row of seminars on International and European Tax Law (Colloquium), now called the Colloquium series, is held - initially in cooperation with PwC. 16 lectures are offered by (mostly) international lecturers each academic year. The successful cooperation with consulting companies leads to other projects, like the KPMG-WU workshop on Company Tax Law, the PwC Visiting Chairs for prominent international scientists, the semi-annual semester opening and closing parties to liaise with students, the two yearly panel discussions on career perspectives in tax advisory companies and law firms, the BDO Best Presentation Award, the TPA Best Presentation Award, the PwC Best Bachelor Thesis in Tax Law Award, the Ernst & Young Tax Challenge (special program for bachelor thesis supervision) and the appointment of Deloitte, KPMG and PwC research assistants at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law. Subsequently, such projects are also carried out in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF).

2006: WU participates for the first time in the European Tax Moot Court in Leuven (Belgium). In the following years, our students repeatedly win or at least rank high in the competition and are awarded for their performance. In later years, the Institute also participates at the Moot Court of the German Federal Fiscal Court (BFH).

2008: Maria Wimmer is appointed to the newly created position of Administrative Director. Her main task is to coordinate the rising number of administrative staff, the organization of conferences and other activities of the Institute.

2009: Alfred Storck joins the Institute after being a leading manager of the Tax Department and Vice-CFO at one of the global tax players.

2009: In the context of an international conference, the Institute focuses on direct and indirect taxation and puts emphasis on global development within the area of value added tax. More conferences on this topic follow in 2010 and 2012.

2009: Incooperation with a number of Austrian and International companies, the CEE Summer School is held at the Institute for the first time. Since then, highly qualified students from the CEE-region are invited each year to further their specialist knowledge in the field of double tax conventions and EU tax law.

2011: The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) establishes The Doctoral Program in International Business Taxation (DIBT) at WU, which is built on the cooperation of researchers from various related academic disciplines. In 2014, financial support from the FWF is extended, based on the unanimous recommendation of a panel of international experts. After another international evaluation in the year 2020, the DIBT program continues to be financed as one of only four scientific programs in Austria to win the highly competitive doc.funds initiative by the FWF in that year. The DIBT continues with the cross disciplinary scientific research conducted by the SFB (Special Research Field). Within the framework of DIBT, doctoral students from around the globe undertake their studies at WU. Those students with a legal background work as research assistants at the Institute. English becomes the common working language also among the Institute’s staff.

2011: For the first time, the Institute holds Summer Schools in Beijing and Xiamen, China. Excellent students from China are able to apply for the Summer Schools to gain further knowledge in the field of international tax law.

2012: Jeffrey Owens assumes the management of the Institute´s newly established WU Global Tax Policy Center and allows for the expansion of the  Institute´s activities in the field of International Fiscal Policy.

2012: The Institute initiates  twice-yearly Corporate Tax Lunches, in cooperation with the economic chambers of Lower Austria and Vienna. CFOs and corporate tax directors of various companies participate at this event. The Corporate Tax Lunch offers the opportunity for mutual exchange on current developments in tax law.

2013: The entire WU - and along with it the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law - moves to the brand new Campus in the Vienna Prater area, designed by world famous architects. All staff members, whose offices had previously been in various separate buildings, are now united in one building. Among the first events held on the new campus is the opening ceremony of the "Doppler Laboratory: Savings Taxation in a Globalized World", established by the Christian Doppler Society with friendly support of Deloitte.

2014: An additional chair is offered at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law. Alexander Rust, previously full professor at the Université du Luxembourg,  is appointed to this position. His appointment enhances the Institute’s expertise in the areas of international tax law and tax policy.

2015: Prof. Alfred Storck sets up the WU Transfer Pricing Center at the Institute. Management of the Center is later taken over by Dr. Raffaele Petruzzi, first as Managing Director and since 2019 as Senior Scientist.

2019: Robert Risse, Senior Faculty Member of the Institute as of 2018, and Alexander Rust, develop the LL.M. Program on Digitalization and Tax Law jointly with the Department of Information Systems and Operations at WU, which is offered for the first time in 2020.

2020: Two additional professorships are advertised at the Institute. Prof. Karoline Spies (who habilitated at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law) is appointed to the professorship Tax Law with a focus on “Value Added Tax” in July. Prof. Georg Kofler (previously Professor at the University of Linz) joins the Institute with a focus on “International Tax Law” in October. Both professors complement the  previous focuses of the Institute in an excellent way and help to strengthen and further develop competences in these areas.

2020: In the field of tax law, there are three major worldwide awards every year: The International Fiscal Association (IFA) awards the Mitchell B. Carroll-Prize for the world’s best scientific work in the field of direct taxation. The best work in the field of indirect taxation is awarded with the Maurice Lauré Prize. Finally, the European Association of Tax Law professors announce the European Academic Tax Thesis Award for the best tax law monograph written at a European University. Employees of the Institute have often  been awarded one of these major prizes. In 2020, the Institute achieves the Triple for the first time, receiving all three prestigious awards: Dr. Raphael Holzinger wins the Mitchell B. Carroll_Prize for his work on the topic „Ergebnisabgrenzung bei verbundenen Unternehmen und Betriebsstätten Post-BEPS: Rechtsformneutralität im OECD Musterabkommen“, Prof. Karoline Spies receives the Maurice Lauré Prize for her habilitation thesis „Permanent Establishments and Value Added Tax“ and Dr. Rita Julien wins the European Academic Tax Thesis Award for her work on the topic „Credit Method: Compatibility and Constraints under EU Law “.

2021: Theodora Stergidou re­ceives the pos­i­tion of Ad­min­is­trat­ive Dir­ector. Her main task is to co­ordin­ate the rising num­ber of ad­min­is­trat­ive staff, the con­fer­ence or­gan­iz­a­tion and other activ­it­ies of the In­sti­tute.