J. Rhys Kesselman

Professor Emeritus


Jonathan Rhys Kesselman joined Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy in 2004, where he was a professor and held the Canada Research Chair in Public Finance until his retirement in 2017. From 1972 to 2003 he was a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, and from 1992 to 2003 he served as director of the UBC Centre for Research on Economic and Social Policy. He was director and principal investigator of the SSHRC/MCRI project on "Equality/Security/Community." He has a B.A. (Hon.) in economics from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T.

Professor Kesselman is a frequent commentator on issues of public finance, taxation, and economic policy. He has written widely on topics in tax policy, income security, employment policy, and social insurance finance, including monographs on Financing Canadian Unemployment Insurance (1983), Rate Structure and Personal Taxation: Flat Rate or Dual Rate? (1990); General Payroll Taxes: Economics, Politics, and Design (1997); a C.D. Howe Institute study, A New Option for Retirement Savings: Tax-Prepaid Savings Plans (2001); studies for the Institute for Research on Public Policy: Flat Taxes, Dual Taxes, Smart Taxes (2000), Tax Design for a Northern Tiger (2004), and Income Splitting and the Joint Taxation of Couples (2008); Expanding Canada Pension Plan Retirement Benefits (2010); Payroll Tax, GST, and Cash Flow Tax: Reforming State Indirect Taxes (2010); co-author of Covering All the Basics: Reforms for a More Just Society; Final Report of the British Columbia Expert Panel on Basic Income (2020); co-author of the IRPP monograph Basic Income for a Just Society: Policy Choices for Canada’s Social Safety Net (2023); and author of Pathways to Reform of Capital Gains Taxation in Canada (2023). His research also appears in numerous articles in scholarly journals and volumes.

Professor Kesselman’s research has been recognized by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Professorial Fellowship in Economic Policy (1985), the Canadian Tax Foundation’s Douglas J. Sherbaniuk Distinguished Research Award (2007 and 2015), and the Canadian Economics Association’s Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for Canadian economic policy research (1998 and 2007). He is a Policy Fellow with the Broadbent Institute.

His research topics have included wage rate subsidies, the economics of tax avoidance and evasion, reform of the GST and provincial sales taxes, finance of post-secondary education, various child benefit programs, flat taxes, personal and business tax reform, First Nations taxation, federal and provincial payroll taxes, BC fiscal and taxation policies, the distributional impacts of taxes, the “brain drain,” mandatory retirement policies, income splitting, the basic income guarantee, expansion of Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits, and reform of capital gains taxation.