DeSTaT – Sustainable Tax Governance in developing countries through global fiscal transparency

This research project, headed by Prof Jennifer Roeleveld, is a research project funded by the Research Council of Norway and linking academic institutions in Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Norway and Uruguay with South Africa (via UCT).  This research project is disseminating its findings currently at fora such as the OECD meetings with regard to the Base Erosion and Profit-Shifting (BEPS) project and has achieved global recognition.  Some 18 research publications are expected to arise from this project alone, each with a UCT academic as a co-author.

The BRICS and the Emergence of International Tax Coordination

This project, funded by the International Bureau for Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), focuses on researching how remodelling of the global economic balance of power is possibly being paralleled by a corresponding reformatting of the international tax system.  The core research is carried out by institutions in the BRICS countries. A/Prof Johann Hattingh from UCT’s Department of Commercial Law has represented South Africa in this regard.  

The first book documenting this research was published in January 2015.  See

Further research is proposed and the project will potentially escalate to enjoy formal recognition from the BRICS, with the formation of a BRICS Legal Institute currently being launched with collaboration agreements between Ural State University in Russia and the University of São Paulo in Brazil and other partners including UCT imminent.

Principles of Taxation for Developing Countries

This project, commissioned in 2015 by the International Bureau for Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), aims to develop a basic textbook setting out the principles of taxation, with an emphasis on a developing country context.  UCT academics from the Departments of Commercial Law and Finance and Tax will be the lead authors.  

The text will augment a course, being developed by UCT in collaboration with the University of Sorbonne (Paris I) and the IBFD, aimed at introducing a basic university level course about taxation in developing countries, mainly in Africa, via blended learning.  The idea is to collaborate with local academic champions who will use this course and text as a base for own further in-country development of the curriculum and research with UCT.  This project and teaching will form the basis for further studies as post-graduate levels for targeted students.  

In addition, this project has as a further aim development and retention of academic expertise in developing countries through partnership with UCT, thus retaining academic expertise in Africa.  

The Unit sees this as a long term and strategic project to attract researchers and teachers from the developed/developing world to UCT, and engagement through the Unit.

Centenary of Income Tax in South Africa

Professors Roeleveld, Hattingh and West were instrumental to organise a conference at UCT marking 100 years of income tax in South Africa in November 2014.  

The conference spurred novel research of an inter-disciplinary nature, which will be published in book format in 2015. 

The conference and research highlighted the need to record the history of taxation in South Africa for many different and important purposes, least of which is to prevent governments to reinvent the wheel.

The book is the first in a new series on Income Tax in South Africa, published by Juta & Co under the guidance of an editorial team comprising Professors Hattingh, Roeleveld and West.  

Future projects

A number of research projects are presently planned by staff involved with the Unit, which includes ‘International Tax Transparency in South Africa: Taxpayer Rights’, ‘Coordination of African Tax Research Networks’, ‘Taxation and the environment’.


The Unit welcomes engagement with governments, civil society and the private sector.  

In terms of UCT’s policy the Unit is allowed to perform contract research.

Staff members associated with the Institute also engage on a voluntary basis with various governmental and non-profit organisations, providing them with support, research assistance and technical advice.  Present engagements include the Davis Tax Committee, NEPAD, the World Bank and various organs of the South African Parliament.