University of Texas Wins Deloitte Tax Competition

By Frank Byrt

A team of five University of Texas at Austin accounting students maintained Longhorn pride when they won a national intercollegiate competition by solving a complex tax problem.
The 2013 Deloitte FanTAXtic national tax case study competition – held January 18-20 and hosted by the Big Four accounting firm Deloitte at its Deloitte University learning and leadership training center in Texas – included nine teams from colleges and universities from across the United States, each of which had won regional competitions to make the final.
More than seventy teams from fifty-one colleges and universities participated in the regional events, which were held in sixteen cities throughout the country.
Members of the winning team each won a $2,000 scholarship, and the University of Texas received a $10,000 institutional award.
The annual competition, which began in 2002 and is supported by the Deloitte Foundation and Deloitte Tax, is designed to familiarize students with the tax profession early in their academic careers. "Deloitte sponsors this competition to help tax students build their skills and increase their understanding of our profession," said Carl Allegretti, chairman and CEO of Deloitte Tax LLP. "The simulation format allows students to network and learn from our tax professionals and each other. While the solutions presented by all of the teams add to my confidence in the future of the tax profession, the group from the University of Texas at Austin truly delivered the most thoughtful, technically sound solution to the case challenge."
St. John Fisher College of Rochester, New York, placed second in the competition, with each student receiving $1,000 and their institution a $5,000 award, while Michigan State University was third, with each student winning $500 and the university $2,500. 
Other colleges participating in the national final were:
  • College of William and Mary
  • Fordham University
  • University of Missouri
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Utah 
Mary Zellers, a partner in Deloitte Tax LLP who was involved in managing the competition, told AccountingWEB, "The competition was a live simulation event closely aligned with the real-world work they would see at Deloitte. They were engaged in a team environment, with the ultimate goal of delivering recommendations through an oral presentation to a fictional client." 
One part of the test was to determine how much tax liability their "client" would face in the event a new tax law was passed, Zellers explained. Students were also asked to make recommendations on how their client should handle a business acquisition and how to effectively go global. 
The students arrived on a Friday evening and were all presented the same hypothetical, real-life scenario. On Saturday, the event culminated with each team making an oral PowerPoint presentation to separate panels made up of two Deloitte tax professionals. 
"Deloitte FanTAXtic continues to be an exciting approach to learning, as it takes into account the many ways tax is taught on campuses today," said Deloitte Foundation President Shaun Budnik. "We congratulate the University of Texas at Austin team for demonstrating a clear understanding of the issues in the case study simulation and working collaboratively to develop and present a viable solution."
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