Tirza Cramwinckel

Winner Dissertation Prize 2023

Voorlichting door de Belastingdienst in rechtsstatelijke context. Een juridisch en communicatiewetenschappelijk onderzoek naar gewekt vertrouwen.

Supervisor: Prof. mr. dr. J.P. Boer & Prof. mr. dr. J.L.M. Gribnau
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. A. Verhagen
Nomination: Leiden University, Faculty of Law

Report by the selection committee

In her dissertation Tirza Cramwinckel explored the many questions raised by the need for general information provided by the Dutch Tax Authorities to be as simple and understandable as possible, while tax law by its very nature is complex and technical. The key question here is who bears the risk if a citizen reads something different into the tax information that is written in democratically determined tax laws.

Tirza Cramwinckel has examined all parts, aspects and angles of this seemingly simple question, both from the viewpoint of the citizen and from the perspective of the government. Moreover, not only has she drawn from the argumentation box of statute law, jurisprudence, scientific literature and fiscal practice, but she has also in her analyses made full use of tools from linguistics and communication sciences.

One of the many qualities of this impressive dissertation is that it not only theoretically analyses the two opposing judicial principles – the principle of legitimate expectation and the principle of legality – and elaborates on their consequences, but the dissertation also brings that double outcome into confrontation, whereby the author reassesses previously discussed cases in a new way. The assessment framework employed, which deviates from the standard doctrine of the Supreme Court on this point, yields outcomes and insights that are socially relevant, plausible and, above all, very topical.

Through its careful composition and crystal-clear style, and through its practically applicable conclusions and recommendations, the dissertation by Tirza Cramwinckel is itself a successful example of what the book refers to as ‘simplexity’, a contraction of ‘simplicity’ and ‘complexity’. The ability to present judicial complexity in an understandable way to a readership is, after all, relevant to the information dilemma faced by the Dutch Tax Authorities.

In terms of disciplinary background, the broadly constituted jury assembled for the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation’s 2023 Dissertation Prizes was impressed by the transparency, structure, style and persuasiveness with which this study was set up and written as a book. That its conclusions also provoke reflection outside the strict domain of fiscal law and the general information provided by the Tax Authorities, where they concern the relationship between the citizen and the State, is another reason why the jury is delighted to award one of the five 2023 Dissertation Prizes to Tirza Cramwinckel.