Issue 3
Tuesday, 07 May 2019
Charles Darwin University
Chair of Accounting and Finance Professor Indra Abeysekera
Chair of Accounting and Finance Professor Indra Abeysekera

Clinics to make tax less taxing

By Patrick Nelson

For anyone anxious about tax time in a few weeks from now, Charles Darwin University may be able to lend a helping hand.

Chair of Accounting and Finance Professor Indra Abeysekera has received $100,000 from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to fund a trial tax clinic where people who do not have their own professional advice can receive assistance from tax students, supervised by academic staff and experienced tax practitioners.

The College of Business and Law academic said the free clinics would start in late June at several locations, including the Darwin Innovation Hub in the central business district, at shopping centres in the northern suburbs and Palmerston, and in Alice Springs.

“This is an exciting initiative that we see as a ‘win-win’ for clients and our students, as well as being of benefit to the tax system in general,” Professor Abeysekera said.

“Our Accounting students will have the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience of dealing with clients in a real-life setting. This sort of experience is critical to ensuring that our students will be job-ready by the time they have completed their qualification.”

Professor Abeysekera said students would provide a wide range of services, including tax advisory work, report and filing obligations, debt and payment negotiations and disputes or ongoing issues with the ATO.

“This also demonstrates to the public that the accounting education we deliver is relevant to individuals and small business owners, and helpful to society at large. There is a scholarly dimension to our activities in the School of Business and Law and a practical dimension that is helpful to the community.

“With the focus on unrepresented, lower-income clients and micro and small business owners, we will not be competing with professional tax accountants.”

Professor Abeysekera said that while some logistical details remained to be determined the clinics would likely be conducted on Saturdays between 11am and 2pm.

“We are in the process of developing a website and other point-of-contact mechanisms, which we will announce as soon as they are ready.”