Research Articles (School of Accountancy)

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    The relationship between investor tax preferences and the payout methods of JSE listed companies
    (AOSIS, 2022-08) Nel, Rudie; Wesson, Nicolene; Steenkamp, Lee-Ann
    Background: Investor tax preference parameters have been included as an explanatory variable for changes in payout methods in developed countries. There is, however, a lack of research in this area in developing countries. Tax reform in South Africa – comprising a change in the tax regime and successive increases in tax rates – offers a unique setting to examine investor tax preference parameters as a contribution to literature. Aim: This study investigated the relationship between investor tax preference parameters (of individuals, corporates, and institutions) and payout methods (namely dividends, capital distributions, additional shares, and share repurchases). Setting: The study used data collected in respect of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa for the financial reporting periods ranging from 2012 to 2019. Method: A regression analysis of panel data was employed to relate the changes in payout methods to changes in profits, investor tax preference parameters, the lagged levels of variables, and ownership concentration dummy variables. Findings: The empirical evidence of this study revealed that investor tax preferences affected dividends as a payout method. This accordingly suggests that the tax differential of dividends and capital gains affect the supply of dividends in South Africa. Conclusion: The study contributes empirical evidence in support of the taxes and tax clienteles theory from a developing country perspective. This could suggest that tax reform in a developing country, in this case, South Africa, has a more pronounced effect on payout methods than in developed countries.
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    Dividends in specie : the granting of services or the right of use of assets
    (University of Pretoria, 2019) Kok, Michael; Nel, Rudie
    Dividends in specie are not defined by the Income Tax Act, which could result in uncertainty whether the granting of services or the right of use of assets to shareholders would be included in the ambit thereof. The uncertainty could result in the opportunity for dividends tax to be avoided and could also result in applicable deductions, claimed by the declaring company, not being recouped for tax purposes. This article investigated whether the granting of services or the right of use of assets to shareholders would constitute dividends in specie for purposes of the Income Tax Act by considering the South African perspective as well as guidance based on international practices. The article submits that a broad interpretation of the meaning of “dividend” and “in specie” in the Income Tax Act supports the granting of services or the right of use of assets as constituting dividends in specie. Furthermore, the context of the provisions contained in the Income Tax Act considered in this article, does not indicate findings contrary to the broad interpretation of the meaning of “dividend” and “in specie”. The guidance obtained from investigating international practices of selected countries also indicated that the granting of services or the right of use of assets constitute dividends or shareholder benefits on which shareholders are taxed. This article concludes that the granting of services or the right of use of assets would constitute dividends in specie and that the specific guidance on the valuation of such benefits in terms of the Seventh Schedule to the Income Tax Act, could possibly be extended to the application in the context of dividends tax.
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    Low-stakes assessments : an effective tool to improve marks in higher-stakes summative assessments? Evidence from commerce students at a South African university
    (HESA, 2021) Ontong, J. M.
    The concept of practice makes perfect is often embedded in the decision to provide students with low-stakes formative and summative assessments with the intention of providing practice for higher-stakes summative assessments. The assumption is that participation in low-stakes formative and summative assessments will result in higher grades obtained in subsequent higher-stakes summative assessments. Using a quantitative approach, this study examined whether participation in low-stakes formative and summative assessments resulted in higher marks obtained in higher-stakes summative assessments. The findings of the study suggest that although in the majority of cases the participation of students in low-stakes formative or summative assessments resulted in higher marks obtained in subsequent summative assessments, an important planning consideration is the scope of the formative and summative assessments. The study found that when a low-stakes formative assessment does not cover the majority of the scope of the higher-stakes summative assessment, firstly, the participation percentage decreases significantly in comparison to other assessments that cover a larger portion of the scope of the following assessment. Secondly, the findings suggest that having a small, perhaps trivial, stake in terms of an assessment’s contribution to final mark versus no stake has a significant impact on the students’ participation levels, as well as the potential value added from participation in such assessments for future assessments. The findings also show that the quantity of low-stakes assessments does not necessarily need to be increased to increase the effectiveness of these interventions; instead, particular focus should be placed on ensuring that formative assessments cover the scope sufficiently of higher-stakes summative assessments if the intended purpose of these is to assist in improving marks in higher-stakes assessments. The findings suggest that the design of low-stakes formative and summative assessments are integral into the potential contribution these have on student performance in subsequent higher-stakes summative assessments.
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    An exploratory study of first-year accounting students’ perceptions on the socio-economic challenges of the transition to emergency remote teaching at a residential university
    (HESA, 2021) Ontong, J. M.; Mbonambi, S.
    For many higher education institutions, the emergency remote teaching (ERT) environment is unchartered territory. The move to ERT for residential universities during a pandemic has highlighted the necessity of understanding students’ needs in order to be able to successfully transition to an ERT environment. Performing an exploratory study, this study aims to identify possible socio-economic challenges to the ERT environment should another pandemic or an extended period of ERT take place. Using a questionnaire, this study obtained the perceptions of first-year accounting students regarding their adaptation to the ERT environment ERT. The findings suggest that a wide lens should be used when assessing residential university students’ adaptation to ERT. It appears that lecturers and the content offered may be quicker to adapt to the new learning environment; however, restrictions such as access to resources required for ERT may pose a significant obstacle to students engaging in ERT. The results of this study can be used by course planners to consider the impact of ERT on their students and further to potentially implement interventions or changes to their modules to create a larger area of inclusivity.
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    Understanding the unintended consequences of online teaching
    (HESA, 2021) Rudman, Riaan J.
    In March 2020, South Africa entered a hard lockdown and students and academics, were forced to transition into the fully (emergency) online remote learning space. Lecturers innovated, adapted and learnt how to use many new tools in a short period of time. Despite the changed context in which lecturers find themselves, the traditional academic and professional expectations on staff remain unchanged. Lecturers had to balance personal and professional decisions as well as disruptive technologies. This, with the added responsibility for the governance of these technologies and the uncertainties they represent. Each lecturer accepted a set of risks associated with online teaching. The purpose of this article is to outline and reflect on the problems and challenges relating to streaming and recording lecturers. Online education works effectively in developed countries. It faces practical issues at a scale that traditional learning does not. Notwithstanding these practical issues, there are additional fundamental downsides teaching online which gather around three themes: changes in teaching practices, changes to the student experience, and the re-shaping of institutional strategy and responsibilities specifically relating to this new digital environment.