The UNSW Tax Clinic has won a prominent AACSB Innovations that Inspire Award, which recognises institutions from around the world serving as champions of change in the business education landscape.
“The UNSW School of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation has embraced the call to create positive societal impact and it is our privilege to recognise UNSW Tax Clinic among the 2021 Innovations that Inspire initiative,” said Caryn Beck-Dudley, AACSB president and CEO.
The UNSW Tax Clinic aims to make a sustained and ongoing contribution to society by working with the federal government and policymakers to identify systemic issues faced by financially vulnerable cohorts and advocate for reform.
“We are incredibly grateful for, and honoured by, AACSB International’s support in selecting us for an AACSB Innovations that Inspire Award,” said Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar, Founding Director of UNSW Tax Clinic.
“Our students immediately benefit from their involvement in the clinic either as volunteers or for course credit, by fine-tuning their tax technical skills, gaining real-world experience and expanding their emotional intelligence under the guidance and supervision of our clinic supervisors, Helen Lam and Paul Viola. By assisting clients who are often affected by mental health issues, experiencing language barriers, or significant social and economic disadvantage, we hope to instill in our students a longer-term mindset for tax justice as they graduate and enter the profession. We know there is a strong appetite within industry for skills-based volunteering and clinics present the ideal platform to give back on so many levels,” she said.
In addition to directly helping financially vulnerable people by resolving their tax problems, UNSW Tax Clinic also engages in meaningful cross-referrals with social workers, mental health support workers, financial counselors and pro bono lawyers to contribute to a more just society by addressing deeper systemic injustices.
Professor Paul Andon, Head of School, School of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation explains, “At the UNSW Business School, we are committed to offering students a transformative educational experience. By immersing students in work-integrated learning opportunities, students are given the opportunity to put their accounting and taxation skills into practice under the mentorship of a qualified professional, and to benefit marginalised members of our community. In the process, they learn more about their professional craft and gain a better understanding of how they can create positive change.”
The significance of the award
“It is wonderful to have an opportunity to promote the important work of the tax clinic in assisting an often misunderstood group of financially vulnerable taxpayers in resolving their disputes and tax compliance problems with the revenue authority,” said Professor Michael Walpole, Co-Founder, UNSW Tax Clinic and Professor, School of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation.
“This will lead to a larger, more tax aware and financially literate taxpaying community, which contributes to society. It improves the mental health of taxpayers in difficulty and also reduces the workload and associated public expense of the taxation office as it is easier for them to deal with a represented taxpayer. This leads to better outcomes for everyone.”
A team effort
Associate Professor Kayis-Kumar acknowledges this award would not be possible without support from key stakeholders.
“We thank the Federal Government who has funded the National Tax Clinic Program. We are also grateful for the bipartisan support that this program has had and heartened by the considerable support of government agencies, including the ATO, the Inspector-General of Taxation and ASBFEO,” she said.
“Industry has also been supportive of this program, including the in-kind support that KPMG and PwC have committed to the UNSW Tax Clinic as well as the social impact sector including Financial Counselling Australia, with whom we work very closely. Our research partners, including the UNSW Business School, the Centre for Social Impact and the Black Dog Institute, show just how much desire there is within the community to continue to support the financially vulnerable cohorts that we are helping.”
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