Goodwill and T4s: Edwards accounting students host free tax prep program

Mikaila Ortynsky

Edwards School of Business (Edwards) accounting students helped hundreds of Saskatoon residents beat the tax deadline this year. Throughout March, third- and fourth-year accounting students who completed COMM 406 & 407 (senior tax classes) volunteered their time and held income tax preparation clinics at ten organizations across Saskatoon. The organizations ranged from seniors’ residence homes to centres for adults with physical or intellectual disabilities to the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus.

“Professors gave us an opportunity to volunteer with the tax prep program,” said Minjin Oh, a third-year accounting student originally from South Korea. “I’ve been a part of a lot of volunteer programs on campus, but the experience from the tax prep program is something I will use for my career.”

Oh volunteered at two sessions, one at a seniors’ residence and one on USask campus assisting international students in collaboration with the International Student and Study Abroad Centre (ISSAC).

“They have two different perspectives,” remarked Oh. “The international students are new to Canada and many don’t know where to start when it comes to filing a Canadian tax return whereas the seniors like having a conversation while beating the tax deadline… I really appreciate that I can help out.”

Many clients of the program have participated for several years. Senior clients remarked that they appreciate students preparing their tax returns at their residences and making the process convenient and easy.

“It’s a win-win for the client and accounting students,” said Erin Bussiere, Manager of the Master of Professional Accounting Program and Accounting Initiatives, who oversees the Tax Preparation Program. “We are helping members of our community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to have their tax returns done and especially free of charge. At the same time, accounting students gain the experience of preparing real tax returns in front of a client.”

In its 31st year of providing services, 73 students filed over 500 tax returns alongside 45 CPA volunteers who are primarily Edwards alumni and past volunteer preparers themselves. Faculty from the Edwards accounting department volunteered 40 hours attending and assisting with the coordination of the tax clinics. Together, students, CPAs, and faculty volunteered 686 hours.

“We have completed 500 tax returns for 31 years consistently, and it’s a real testament of how committed Edwards is to the Saskatoon community and to developing our students into business professionals through experiential learning opportunities,” added Bussiere.

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