SARChI research chair in tax policy and governance

Posted on February 12, 2013

This aligns well with the University of Pretoria’s ambition of becoming the leading research-intensive university on the African continent.

Chairs are awarded in two tiers. Tier 1 chairs are for established researchers who are recognised internationally as leaders in their respective fields and/or have already received substantial international recognition for their research contributions.

Prof Franzsen’s primary task will be to undertake, facilitate and manage tax-related research. As incumbent of the SARChI Chair in Tax Policy and Governance he must deliver on the research activity plan that formed part of the peer-reviewed proposal as accepted by the NRF. In this plan he has identified various research focus areas and indicated expected research outcomes. At the end of each financial year, Prof Franzsen must submit a progress report to the NRF, addressing milestones and expected outcomes presented in the research activity plan. The focus is on the supervision of postgraduate students. Research Chairs are expected to dedicate at least 95% of their time conducting research and supervising master’s and doctoral students.

“As taxation is by its very nature multi-disciplinary, I will be collaborating with colleagues from various departments in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, but also in other faculties, for example the faculties of Law, Humanities, Education, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, as well as Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology”, says Prof Franzsen. The African Tax Institute (ATI) Programme Manager, Claudia Bittencourt, will provide administrative and logistical support, and research assistants with undergraduate qualifications in law, economics and taxation will also be employed. Suitably-qualified postdoctoral fellows will be sourced to undertake and facilitate research and to assist with the mentoring of postgraduate students.

A SARChI Chairs is granted for a five-year period. A Tier 1 Chair is tenable for five years, and renewable for two further five-year periods, giving a total llifespan of 15 years. However, eligibility for renewal after each five-year period is performance-linked.

“Given the ATI’s focus on the public sector and the SARChI Chair’s focus on South African postgraduate students, I hope to collaborate closely with National Treasury, the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), Department of Cooperative Governance as well as other South African universities. These entities could assist with the identification of possible master’s and doctoral students from their ranks and, once enrolled, will hopefully provide them with the necessary support and space they will need to complete their studies.

Collaboration with (at least) these government departments, entities and universities will also assist in identifying relevant research areas for contract research, working papers, journal articles and other research outputs (eg conference presentations) in respect of the research themes of the Chair’s research activity plan. Obviously the Chair will also utilise the extensive international network of the ATI to source postdoctoral fellows and to identify collaborative research opportunities”, says Prof Franzsen.

According to Prof Franzsen, presently, and quite appropriately, tax research at South African universities revolves predominantly around the two most important national taxes, namely income tax and value-added tax, with some universities also attending to international taxation. Rather than replicating these research efforts by also focusing on these three areas, the Chair in Tax Policy and Governance will focus primarily on the following research themes:

· Fiscal decentralisation

· Sub-national taxation

· Property taxation

· Natural resource taxation

· Tax policy and rural development

· Information technology (IT) and geographic information systems (GIS) in the tax environment

It is foreseen that postdoctoral fellows from various disciplines and young researchers from various tax-related disciplines, for example economics, law, taxation and public administration, will also become involved in these research initiatives, as well as University of Pretoria researchers from other disciplines. Inter- and trans-disciplinary research initiatives such as natural resource taxation, IT and tax administration, GIS and tax analysis, taxation for rural development, green taxes and sustainable development, to mention but a few, are likely to develop from these research collaborations.

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