Leiden University withheld the sponsorship of the professor by the tax authorities

The chairman of the gifted professor Rex Arendsen from the University of Leiden is paid in silence by the tax authorities, while as a professor he researches tax legislation and its feasibility. He himself, the university and the tax authorities have not disclosed this potential conflict of interest.

It appears from studies of news hour† Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (science) says he is ‘shocked’. “I think it should be 100 percent clear how professors are supported and that we know that there is no conflict of interest and no outside influence. I find the silence and concealment of such constructions unacceptable.”

Arendsen’s endowment chair is financed through the Customs, which was previously part of Skat. The Ministry of Finance also helped establish the presidency.

Over a period of ten years, the Tax Authorities / Customs pay 425,000 euros to the university. The professor and two PhD students get paid by the money. Funding started in 2015 and will end in 2025.

Professor Arendsen works at the university one day a week. In addition, for many years he has been employed by the tax authorities four days a week. He reported this in a publication in 2017. He first worked as head of research in the service, but for several years he has now worked on a secondment basis for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

It was only publicly known that the Tax and Customs Museum in Rotterdam financed Arendsen’s chair at the university. But in reality, Tax paid the vast majority of the cost: more than three times more than the museum paid. Skat is also a member of the foundation of that museum and in that way also contributes to the financing of the chair.

Arendsen researches the implementation of tax legislation and the use of ICT in this connection. Both issues are of direct importance to the tax authorities.

Sponsorship announcement

It is customary for gifted chairs to be sponsored by companies and institutions. This must be stated in publications and, for example, on the university’s website. But it did not happen. Financing is also not mentioned in the dissertation that Arendsen supervised.

This is contrary to the code of conduct of the professional association of scientists. “The basic principle is that if research is funded by third parties, it is always clear who the client and / or the financier is. The Dutch research institutions have committed themselves to the Code of Conduct,” says the professional association KNAW.

Arendsen says in a reply that by mentioning the foundation, he met the desire for transparency regarding the financing of his chair. He stated that he did not mind reporting the funding more clearly in the future. “My own research results are presented in publications. That research is not defined by, not conducted with and not
influenced by financiers. “

Leiden University also announced that they felt they had met the requirements for transparency. “Looking back, the funding from Tax should have been mentioned,” the university said in a response.

Professors and their invisible side jobs, that’s how Nieuwsuur got stuck

Minister Dijkgraaf will meet with universities on Tuesday to discuss the topic of transparency. He approached Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam about the lack of transparency.

The full reactions of those involved can be found here: Professor Rex Arendsen, the Tax Authorities / Customs and Leiden University.

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