Aspiring accountants from Southern Cross University will put their skills to the test in coming months as they provide free tax advice to low-income earners.
Seven accounting students from the Lismore and Tweed Gold Coast campuses will be helping those who earn $35,000 or less complete their tax returns as part of the annual Tax Help program.
Two volunteers at Tweed and five at Lismore have volunteered to offer consultations from early August until the end of October. The Lismore students are participating in the program for the first time this year, but others at the Coffs Harbour and Tweed Gold Coast campuses have pitched in to assist over the past decade.
Assistant director of the Tax Help program, Steve Tonks, said volunteer support of this kind was critical to the success of the program, which operated through 830 centres nationally.
“Many of the people who avail themselves of this service could not afford to see a tax agent and may be doing themselves out of a refund,” Mr Tonks said.
“Tax Help is particularly useful to pensioners and retirees, the unemployed, Indigenous people, those from non-English speaking backgrounds and young trainees and students. It offers clients professional advice from accredited volunteers within the community, without the need to deal with a tax agent or the Australian Tax Office.”
Lismore senior lecturer in accounting Dr Youness Alizadeh said that as well as helping others, the university students increased their knowledge of taxation issues and developed the communication skills necessary for a thorough, professional consultation. In previous years students that have taken part were able to gain a significant edge when seeking employment with accounting firms.
Appointments for Tax Help at the Lismore or Tweed Heads centres can be made by phoning the Australian Tax Office on 132 681 or by phoning Lismore direct on 02 6620 3835 or the Tweed Gold Coast on 07 5506 9319.
Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.