The winners of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants’ (SAIPA’s) 2017 Tax Thesis Competition, sponsored by EY, was announced on 19 October at a function that celebrated the 35th year of the existence of the Institute.
“We host this competition because we understand and support the impact academic writing has in shaping legislation and influencing our economy,” says Faith Ngwenya, Technical and Standards Executive of SAIPA.
A record number of 36 entries were received, including five for the Doctoral and nine for the Masters categories respectively.
The honours category was won by Caitlyn Mullins from the University of Cape Town on the topic of taxation of game farming in the Eastern Cape, asking how appropriate the first schedule of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 is for computing taxable income.
Sarah Elliot, also from the University of Cape Town, won the Master category with her submission. The thesis explored the development, operation, and comparison of the “pay now argue later” principle in South African tax law to local civil debt enforcement and consistency with the constitutional right of access to courts.
The doctoral category had to go to a second moderation to distinguish between the two submissions that initially scored the same. After the second moderation that focused on details such as the contribution to body of knowledge, research methodology, and grammatical details, the scores were separated by a mere one point.
Dr Ferdinand Schneider was awarded first place in the doctoral category with his topic on the critical evaluation of inter-jurisdictional rules in the South African Value-Added Tax system. Fareed Moosa was awarded the second place. His submission focused on the 1996 Constitution and the Tax Administration Act 28 of 2011 and balancing efficient and effective tax administration with taxpayers’ rights.
About the Tax Thesis competition
The Tax Thesis Competition recognises outstanding achievements in academic tax research, the authors of the works and the universities overseeing their contribution. In light of this, tax departments from all South African universities were invited to enter tax thesis and dissertations that have been submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for Honours, Master’s or Doctoral degrees in taxation during the years 2016/2017.
For quality control purposes, students had to first submitted their thesis or dissertations to their respective universities. Each tertiary institution then submitted their top three submissions in each of the Honours, Masters and Doctoral degrees as competition entries.
The entered theses or dissertations are subjected to rigorous adjudication, carried out by a panel of tax experts from SAIPA and its partners. Every work passes through two stages of assessment. First, they are scored by the panel according to an agreed set of rules. Second, submissions that score above 80% are independently moderated. Ultimately, one winner is chosen in each of the three categories.
“Excellence is what we need to pursue as a life-long commitment,” said Hashim Salie, board member of SAIPA, in his closing remarks during the awards function. “Excellence is not always gauged only on wealth of a physical nature, but in the way we address things. Excellence in research is something we have to promote.”
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