Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences alumna Frances Burger recently emerged as the winner of the 2020 South African Institute of Professional Accountants' (SAIPA's) Tax Thesis Competition in the Master's degree category.
Her thesis focused on the constitutionality of third party appointments as a collection procedure employed by the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
The SAIPA competition, which is aimed at promoting good research in accounting and taxation, was open to all universities in South Africa. Burger's study leader, Prof Linda van Heerden of the School of Accountancy, entered her thesis for the competition.
Burger obtained her BCom (Law) degree in 2011 and her LLB degree in 2013 from Stellenbosch University. She then completed her law articles with Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys in 2015 and thereafter pursued a career in taxation.
In 2016, she decided to embark on her Master's degree in Taxation and completed her studies under the supervision of Prof van Heerden in 2019.
She said of her research assignment: “Having a civil litigation background, I conducted a comparative study between third party appointments (being a tax collection procedure) and emolument attachment orders (being a civil procedure collection measure similar to that of third party appointments). The validity of emolument attachment orders have been scrutinised and culminated in the constitutional court finding the process in which emolument attachment orders are issued, invalid.
“With this in mind, my research asked the question whether this judgment should equally apply to third party appointments, due to the similarities that exist between the two procedures."
Burger said her research aims to protect the taxpayers of South Africa.
“Although there are merits in having third party appointments to collect outstanding tax, it should have sufficient safeguards in place to protect the citizens of South Africa."
The former Strand High School pupil praised Prof van Heerden for playing an integral role in helping her to complete her Master's degree.
“She challenged and guided me through this process to deliver a thesis of high quality," she said.
SAIPA congratulated her on her “brilliant" thesis which they said was subjected to a “rigorous adjudication by a panel of experts in the field".
“That your paper emerged victorious against so many other works is a testament not only to the quality of your research but also the critical importance of the concepts you've addressed.
“The ambition of the SAIPA Accountancy Thesis Competition is to raise the bar for research in accountancy and tax, and your excellent submission has without a doubt contributed immensely to the realisation of that vision," the accountancy body said.
Burger, who was recently promoted to the position of associate at the ASL Group where she focuses on advisory services and tax consulting, said the following of her achievement, “To have received this award is a great and unexpected honour and I hope that I can use this opportunity to inspire others who wish to have a career in taxation."
She paid tribute to her husband Hanno, her parents and her parents-in-law who supported her throughout this process and “always had a word of encouragement when I needed it most".
“I would also like to thank my mentor Nico le Roux from Miller Bosman Le Roux, the director under whom I completed my law articles. Nico saw and cultivated my potential and encouraged me to be the best practitioner I can be. It was truly a privilege to have worked with him," she said.
- Photo of Frances Burger supplied.