Students win regional tax contest, advance to nationals


Courtesy Photo/UNIBUSINESS

UNIBusiness students Carson Ehrenberg (from left), Cassidy Pearson, Nathan Funke, Jacqueline Hicks and Al Faisal Yasin will compete at the national level of the Deloitte National FanTAXtic Competition in January.

COLBY WEBER, Staff Writer

On Nov. 8, 2019, a group of five UNIBusiness students (Al Faisal Yasin, Cassidy Pearson, Jacqueline Hicks, Carson Ehrenberg and Nathan Funke) won the regional Deloitte National FanTAXtic Competition in Milwaukee, WI. The team will advance to the national competition, from Jan. 17-19 in Westlake, Texas. Winners of the national competition will receive $2,000 each.

According to assistant professor of accounting Cathalene Bowler, the team’s advisor, the Deloitte National FanTAXtic Competition involves a team of four or five students. Teams are composed of one senior, one junior, and three students that are either freshmen or sophomores. These students help to solve hypothetical case scenarios for a business by researching taxes.

“Our team was selected primarily based on our accounting faculty recommendations,” said Bowler. “They were also selected based on their GPA, their personality and their ability to work well with others.”

Deloitte provides a variety of resources for the students to prepare for the competition. Many of the students also used the Rod Library in order to study tax laws. Between their research and the competition, students were given three weeks to create their presentation materials and complete practice presentations in front of accounting faculty.

Within that short time frame, the students had to balance various priorities and daily tasks.

“I would definitely say trying to manage working on the case with schoolwork, work and other things was the most challenging part,” said sophomore accounting major and team member Jaqueline Hicks. “We spent hours a day, every day, leading up to the case study. I think that sometimes it was really hard to sacrifice studying for working on this case. Having to juggle all of that was definitely really difficult for the couple of weeks that we were working on it.”

Because the national competition is based off the case that they previously worked on, Hicks said that one of their members has been brainstorming possible cases as they prepare for the next level of competition.

While the students are collaborating, Bowler likes to see how their relationships develop.

“My favorite part is getting to know the students and watching how well they work together and build friendships,” said Bowler. “It’s amazing to see how they go from feeling clueless to becoming more confident in the knowledge they’ve gained. It’s just as much fun to see their joy when they win and you see how their hard work has paid off.”

Hicks shared similar ideas about the benefits of working with her team. She enjoyed being able to bounce ideas off other people while gaining a deeper understanding of taxes. By being a part of a group with a diverse skill set, Hicks believes that all of her team members brought something different to the table.

Regardless of the outcome of the national competition, Hicks thinks that the experiences she’s had in the Deloitte National FanTAXtic Competition will apply to her career.

“Looking back on the case, we worked so hard,” said Hicks. “We learned so much. Whether we won or lost, we knew that we walked away with a great deal of experience from it. Regardless of the result, we learned a lot. Each of us did. That will really help us in the future.”