Three talented university students were honoured at a gala dinner on 25 October for their exceptional, prize-winning thesis submissions in leading legal practice, Norton Rose South Africa's fifth annual Tax Thesis Competition 2011. Submissions this year focused on dividends, the environment, trusts and the concept of permanent establishment, among others.
[L-R] Elzette Muller, doctoral winner with Rob Otty, MD at Norton Rose South Africa and Rina Hattingh, SAIPA chairperson.
The winner in the doctoral category was Elzette Muller of the University of Pretoria for her thesis titled "A framework for wealth transfer taxation in South Africa". The author makes the case for a wealth transfer tax to replace the current three-pronged donations tax, capital gains tax and estate duty regime. At a time when some commentators are calling for the abolition of estate duty, this work makes a significant and not uncontroversial contribution to the debate.
In the masters category the winner was Rozelle van Schaik of the University of Stellenbosch for her thesis titled "A critical analysis of the concepts of permanent establishment and foreign business establishment". This concept has bedevilled tax advisers and writers on international tax law, not least because the South African authorities tend to interpret it differently from the rest of the world.Suggestions for tax incentives
The honours category winner was Jessica van Aarle of the University of the Witwatersrand for her thesis titled "How can taxes be used to reinforce environmental policies in South Africa". The author considers the present tax incentives in this very topical subject and makes some interesting suggestions for making them more effective.
Judging was undertaken by a team of tax experts at Norton Rose South Africa and co-sponsor, South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) with the final adjudication of the shortlisted candidates examined by advocate Julia Boltar. Advocate Boltar was full of praise for the winners and the other finalists, who were Ruan Gertenbach and Susan Flack, both of the University of KwaZulu Natal in the honours category, and Evadne Bronkhorst of the University of Potchefstroom and Ross Robertson of the University of Cape Town in the masters category.