Last year, students from the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE) provided guidance to many Canberrans with their tax affairs.
The assistance they offered was a part of the ANU Tax Clinic initiative, a friendly, student-run clinic where clients receive information from CBE accounting students, under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners.
Relaunching the service on this week, the ANU Tax Clinic will be open for 11 weeks, from 12 August to 23 October, to coincide with the period before tax returns are due on 31 October. The service will again deliver assistance and information to taxpayers – a crucial service in a COVID-19 tax season. In contrast to 2019, it will operate exclusively by phone and videoconferencing to comply with COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines.
"Tax time can be stressful at the best of times, but people may have additional questions due to COVID-19 tax measures and Jobkeeper payments administered by the Australian Taxation Office," explains Dr Sonali Walpola, a lecturer at the ANU Research School of Accounting, who is the academic supervisor of the initiative.
“Plus, a simplified process for some deductions is now possible. This year we’re expecting lots of questions about deductions for home-office expenses.”
The ANU Tax Clinic has extended its services beyond Canberra to Yass, Goulburn, Queanbeyan, Jindabyne, Cooma and the South Coast region, from Eurobodalla down to Eden.
To be eligible, clients must be unrepresented by a tax agent and have an individual income of under $A60,000.
While the community has benefitted from this unique initiative, students interning with the ANU Tax Clinic have also gained significant personal and professional advantages.
“The ANU Tax Clinic is not like any other internship, where you are usually working in the background on a project. It gave me the opportunity to be on the frontline from day one, assisting clients directly with their tax-related queries. Since I was studying tax alongside my internship, the queries from the clients further advanced my knowledge about all concepts related to tax. I was not just learning through books and lectures, but I was also getting a chance to practically implement my learning with real-client cases,” shares former intern Pirah Mukhtiar, who recently completed her Master of Accounting.
Echoing a similar sentiment, CBE graduate Ben Raines, who is now a consultant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, believes his internship at the Clinic changed him personally.
“I was able to make a difference in the community, using the knowledge I obtained through my studies and helping people in need. This was really rewarding. Additionally, I was able to learn valuable new skills working with different tax professionals, as well as expand my professional network,” he shares.
Click here to learn more about the ANU Tax Clinic and make an appointment.