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Interview with students on the Advanced Master’s (LLM) Programme on International Tax Law 2016/17

We talked to Charles Lincoln from the United States and Mehul Saboo from India, two students on the Advanced Master’s (LLM) programme on international tax law, jointly organized by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and IBFD.

What is your background (country, study, work)?

Charles: I come from the USA. I was born in Palm Beach, Florida and grew up in Texas. My father’s family is from the United States, and my mother’s family is from Greece. Both my parents are anthropologists, focusing on the Mayans whilst living partly in Mexico. I studied for my bachelor’s degree on the East Coast and went to law school in Texas. I took a class at a law school on the Cayman Islands and another class in international trade in Mexico. Both were great experiences, leading me to this programme. I worked as a Greek-English/English-Greek translator as an undergraduate student. During my law school period, I worked at the Texas Attorney General’s Office, at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and had several court internships and externships.


Mehul: I come from Mumbai, India, and have a bachelor’s degree in commerce, one in Law (Mumbai University) and one at Chartered Accountants in India (equivalent to USCPA). Further, I worked as an associate tax lawyer at a law firm, concentrating on direct taxation, and I have undertaken internships in direct taxation, in indirect taxation (VAT, sales tax) and in company law matters in Mumbai. Both my parents are lawyers, and we have our own law firm in Mumbai, where I've been working and providing a helping hand from a young age in tax and accounting work.


What is the reason for your participation in the UvA/IBFD advanced LLM programme?

Mehul: I applied to six schools/Universities for the LLM in International Taxation programme, and I was offered an unconditional offer letter by five of them (the UvA being one). I chose the UvA for both personal reasons (I’m a big fan of Armin van Buuren and other DJs from Amsterdam and the Netherlands) and for content reasons (i.e. the programme curriculum). Also, I appreciate the combination of IBFD (Knowledge Centre/Library) and UvA (professors), which was one of the most influential factors for me to choose the UvA over other universities.


Charles: My mentor, William Byrnes IV – for whom I worked as a research assistant – suggested I apply to the University of Amsterdam, and the combination of IBFD and UvA appealed to me most.


How has the programme been so far?

Charles: Good.


Mehul: To date, the programme has been intensive for me, and I am looking forward to learning more about advanced issues in international taxation. Also, I would be more than pleased if IBFD/UvA provides for campus placements at the end of the programme for students like me who want to stay and work in Amsterdam.


What topic in the programme is of most interest to you? Why?

Charles: I would prefer to do my thesis on transfer pricing, specifically valuation of intangibles.


Mehul: I would prefer to study various aspects of corporate taxation, and, as a matter of fact, I would also like to work in the same area, as I feel the issues involved in corporate taxation are complicated. Personally, I like dealing with complicated issues, as it brings a sense of satisfaction for me.


How do you like studying in Amsterdam?

Mehul: I love the many clubs and bars, and I think it’s much nicer than Rotterdam. As far as I have seen until now, there are hardly any cyclists in Rotterdam. On a daily basis, you end up meeting so many people in Amsterdam, so it’s never boring. The city never sleeps, and I like the overall energy that it provides for international students like me. Apart from the rain (difficult to bike), I don’t have any other complaints about the city, and I absolutely like it here.


Charles: I love the architecture of the city. I love cycling around Museumplein and the unique plan of the city’s canals. Amsterdam was the first place in Europe I set foot on, after landing at Schiphol airport in 2004, when I was 11 years old. The city has held a special place in my heart ever since.


When the programme is finished, what do you intend to do?

Charles: I’d like to stay here.


Mehul: I would like to stay here in Amsterdam and find a job or internship. Also, I would continue with my hobby of playing tennis, and I am also planning to take some piano lessons and learn basic Dutch.



What is your favourite Dutch dish?

Charles: Bitterballen.


Mehul: I really like the kroketten and the bitterballen served over here. But, in general, I like eating and trying various cuisines, so it’s difficult for me to choose my favourite.
We wish them both good luck and every success in their future careers!