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WU welcomes new law professor

07/07/2020

Karoline Spies will contribute her expertise to WU’s research and teaching activities as professor of tax law with a focus on VAT law.

WU is pleased to be welcoming a new professor of law starting work in July. Karoline Spies (aged 34), a native of Lower Austria, earned her doctoral degree at WU Vienna in 2014, received a Dr. Maria Schaumayer Habilitation Grant in 2015, and obtained her venia docendi in 2019. During her academic career, she has spent stays abroad at the University of Münster (Germany), Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), and Singapore Management University (Singapore). Karoline Spies has won numerous prizes and awards for her academic work. Her dissertation alone – dealing with the topic of the free movement of capital versus the other basic freedoms of the single market – won as many as 6 awards, including the European Academic Tax Thesis Award and the Jean Monnet Science Award for European Law. Since 2019, Karoline Spies has been a member of the European Commission’s VAT Expert Group. Complementing her research and academic work, she also has professional experience in tax consulting. In addition to her new role as a part-time professor, she will also continue working for an international tax firm.

Digitalization poses challenges to the VAT system

In her research, Karoline Spies focuses primarily on VAT in national and international contexts and the harmonization of EU tax law, regarding both indirect and direct taxes. She has ambitious plans for her work at WU. “In my research, I would like to dive deeper into the fundamental elements of European law, specifically the fundamental rights, and general legal principles such as the principle of proportionality. I’m particularly interested in what these principles mean with regard to VAT, looking at the decisions issued by the European Court of Justice as well as at plans for future reforms. The processes of digitalization and globalization pose major challenges to the current VAT system because more and more business activities take place remotely, without vendors even having a physical presence in the country of consumption. For this reason, some countries are exploring ways of including intermediaries such as online platforms or payment service providers into VAT taxation procedures. In the context of these planned reforms and efforts for ensuring correct taxation, it is important to distribute the administrative burden between the financial authorities and businesses in a balanced way,” Karoline Spies points out. She also plans to contribute many new ideas to teaching at WU. “I plan to introduce seminars and additional courses that more specifically address VAT-related topics. VAT plays a very important role in professional practice because any wrong assessments in this field can result in additional costs of up to 20% for companies. With well-founded VAT expertise, WU graduates will be highly sought after in the job market,” she says.

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