ANU students help the public with taxing questions

15 August 2019

It's a great opportunity for our students to interact with clients and they'll be helping to meet a real need in the community.

ANU students will provide help to underrepresented people with their tax affairs at four new clinics opening in Canberra.

The clinics are a partnership with Anglicare, Belconnen Community Centre and Woden Community Centre, and form part of a national trial to help people understand their tax obligations and navigate the Australian taxation system.

The students, all studying accounting at the ANU College of Business and Economics, have been competitively chosen to work in the clinics and will be supervised and mentored by practicing tax accountants.

The ANU Tax Clinics, launched today, will provide underrepresented taxpayers with information on applying for a Tax File Number, as well as using MyGov and lodging tax returns. 

Professor Juliana Ng said the clinics were timely with the passing of the Government's new tax plans.

"The Government's tax plan is probably going to raise a lot of questions for people in the community about how this will affect them," she said.

"We've chosen the very best students to work in the clinics. Their knowledge of income tax and tax related matters mean they'll be well equipped to confidently deal with questions coming up in the clinics." 

Professor Ng noted the ANU Tax Clinic was most likely to be used by new migrants, students and current participants of the services provided by the partner community centres.

"This is a wonderful example of ANU working closely with industry bodies, government agencies and the community sector to assist locals and provide students with the best possible learning experience," she said.

"We think it's a great opportunity for the students to be mentored by qualified industry professionals and experience face-to-face interactions with clients, in this case underrepresented taxpayers and they'll be helping to meet a real need in the community."

The ANU was selected with nine other universities across Australia to run the tax clinic trial, announced by the Government in late 2018.

Assistant Commissioner of the ATO, Damien Browne, said the national tax clinic trial was designed in part to determine the level of demand from the community for this kind of service.

"The trial is allowing us to test the waters and refine the service offer of the clinics should funding be granted by the Government to extend the program.

"The ATO sees the trial as complementing our existing range of help and support services for unrepresented taxpayers."

The tax clinics, operating in community centres at Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Gordon, will run until the end of October.

The ANU Tax Clinics are also supported by CA Australia and New Zealand, CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn, CPA Australia, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, DC Squared, DFK Everalls, Equity Partners, Fusion Accountants & Advisors, Kinsella, Nexia Australia, ONTHEGO, Outward Bound Australia, and Solution In.

These support groups will provide mentors for ANU students, run workshops at the Clinics, and/or offer students internships.