Can nudging prevent tax avoidance?

Erasmus School of Law alumna Marieke Buijs (25) is the very first winner of the new Hermes Kring London Thesis Prize. Her master's thesis “Nudging in tax law: A push in the right direction?” was enthusiastically received by the jury members, due to her original analysis of a behavioral psychological subject within the strict legal frameworks of the tax authorities. Marieke received the prize on Wednesday November 18th from Dick van den Broek, co-founder of the Hermes Kring Londen Fund. Naturally, the presentation took place completely digitally this year.

Marieke, who now works for the Dutch tax authorities herself, wrote her thesis in 2019 for her master's degree in Tax Law at Erasmus School of Law. She wrote this under the supervision of Prof. Sigrid Hemels, who in all her enthusiasm for this thesis convinced Marieke to submit it for the Hermes Kring Londen Thesis Prize.

With "nudging" she had chosen an original, though difficult subject. Her legal comparison between the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands resulted in valuable lessons for the Netherlands: “With nudging you can change people's mentality,” says Marieke. “The Dutch tax authorities are familiar with the subject, but are not actively involving in comparison to the United Kingdom. My hope is to contribute to the fight against tax evasion in this way, without implementing a horde of new rules or generating public resistance.”

An encouragement for more independent research

For her, this award is a validation of the subject and her independent point of view. She hopes that this will give other students the 'nudge' to do more independent research. She cites Monisha Gopie as a wonderful example of this, who won the encouragement prize with her bachelor thesis “The impact of the Brexit referendum on the trade patterns of the United Kingdom” at Erasmus School of Economics.

Small steps within tax law

What does she herself say about her thesis? “I see this as a great first step,” says Marieke. “This allows me to contribute to something that has an impact on every person. If I can show that through this approach you can improve the relationship between tax authorities and taxpayers just a little bit, then I think that is quite a victory. Still, I am far from done with this research. I want to delve even deeper into this by researching how we can prevent corporate tax evasion. ”

Marieke and Monisha received the prize from an enthusiastic Dick van den Broek, who is himself an Erasmus University alumnus since 1955 and co-founder of this Named Fund at the Erasmus Trustfonds.

More information

The Hermes Kring Londen Fonds is a Named Fund of the Erasmus Trustfonds Foundation, the official foundation for the growth and prosperity of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Hermes Kring Londen consists of former London-based RSC members of the association Walhalla. The Hermes Kring Londen Thesis Prize aims to support research of currently relevant economic, financial and legal issues, which mainly focus on the relations between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

For more information, please contact communications manager Dunya Ressang of Erasmus Trustfonds at d.ressang@trustfonds.nl.