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Centres and institutes_

Ross Parsons Centre

A leader in commercial, corporate and taxation law research

The Ross Parsons Centre engages in research and inquiry into the impact of commercial, corporate and taxation law in Australia and the international community. 

The Ross Parsons Centre for Commercial, Corporate and Taxation Law was founded in 2004 and engages in high-level research in commercial, corporate and taxation law. We are active in organising conferences and seminars, publications, sponsoring visits from international and Australian academics, encouraging research and building links with other institutions with similar goals.

The centre is open to academics of Sydney Law School and other institutions, and professionals in the public and private sector who are able to contribute to its work.

Our leadership team

Professor Jason Harris

Visit Professor Harris' academic profile.

Associate Professor Celeste Black

Visit Associate Professor Black's academic profile

Dr Zofia Bednarz

Visit Dr Bednarz's academic profile

The centre aims to undertake, promote and support innovative and important scholarship, including research, consultancy and advocacy in all areas of commercial, corporate and taxation law. These objectives will include work both within the University of Sydney, with other centres in Australia and overseas, with the legal profession more generally, and with the wider community, both in Australia and internationally. 

The centre’s activities include:

  • sponsoring and conducting conferences, seminars, workshops, lectures and other similar activities
  • facilitating visits of distinguished scholars from Australia and overseas
  • undertaking a range of external advice, opinion work, consultancies and projects, including some on a pro bono basis, in the areas of commercial, corporate and taxation law within Australia, the Asia Pacific, and other parts of the world, where it is impracticable or impossible to engage in such projects as Sydney Law School projects
  • fostering collaborative links with institutions and with fields related to commercial, corporate and taxation law that could not otherwise be developed within the Sydney Law School
  • facilitating the publication of papers, reports and other works and supporting other means of dissemination of scholarly publications by use of a distinct marketable and high profile brand name, being the name of the centre
  • supporting the activities, and collaborating with professional associations and societies engaged in promoting commercial, corporate and taxation law.


International visitors

We run a number of seminars and events throughout the year. Find out more about what's coming up via the links below and our events page. To be informed of future events, register your details here.

Parsons Tax Lectures

  • 2001: Prof John Prebble QC (University of Victoria), Income Taxation, a Structure Built on Sand
  • 2003: Prof David Rosenbloom (New York University), Banes of an Income Tax: Legal Fictions, Elections, Hypothetical Determinations, Related Party Debt
  • 2007: Professor John Tiley (University of Cambridge), Death, Taxes and Policy: Recent UK Experience
  • 2009: Prof Alvin Warren (Harvard Law School), Tax Policy after the Financial Crisis
  • 2011: Prof Dr Wolfgang Schoen (Max Planck Institute), The Distinct Equity of the Debt-Equity Distinction
  • 2012: Prof David Duff (University of British Columbia), Rethinking the Concept of Income in Tax Law and Policy
  • 2015: Prof Michael Graetz (Yale Law School and Columbia Law School), Can a 20th Century Tax Regime Serve a 21st Century Economy?
  • 2019: Mr Brian Arnold (Canadian Tax Foundation), The Evolution of CFC Rules in International Tax - With Particular Emphasis on Australia

Tax program conferences

The Parsons Centre tax program runs and participates in a wide variety of different research conferences, including work–in–progress (WIP) conferences held jointly with other universities or institutes. Below is a list of some of our past conferences. 

Classic tax texts

The Centre has digitised historical sources relating to Australian and international taxation law, including:

  • the seminal text, Income Taxation in Australia: Principles of Income, Deductability and Tax Accounting, by Ross Parsons. A facsimile edition is available to purchase here.
  • the Final Report of the Taxation Review Committee ('the Asprey Report'), which is widely regarded as the origin of much of the tax reform that has occurred in Australia since 1975.
  • League of Nations publications on tax treaties that are the origin of Australia's modern treaty network.

Ross Parsons Centre monographs

This series provides detailed analysis of commercial, corporate, finance, securities and taxation law influences on the business world from a domestic and international perspective. 

See our full list of publications and publications page for more details. 

Staff publications

Publications that centre members have written can be found on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Please visit the links below for publications by centre members.

Ross Parsons was Professor of Law at the University of Sydney from 1961 to 1986. In that time he established the Australia paradigms for postgraduate coursework legal education and continuing professional development, as well as being Australia’s acknowledged leader in tax law research and a foremost scholar in commercial and corporate law.  

The degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) was conferred upon Emeritus Professor Ross Parsons at a ceremony held on 12 October 1999 at the Law School.

His income tax notes became the crowning glory of his academic life, as encapsulated in his book, Income Taxation in Australia: Principles of Income Deductibility and Tax Accounting. This 1000-page treatise published by the Law Book Company in 1985 is still the source of much of the learning on income tax in Australia despite two decades of tax reform since, and is constantly quoted by judges in all levels of courts. It is available electronically.