A new Tax Clinic, run by UNSW Business School students, is providing tax justice for the most vulnerable in the Sydney community.
The clinic is part of a nation-wide pilot program funded by the Australian government to help individuals and small businesses that may not be able to afford proper advice and representation.
Co-Founder of the UNSW Tax Clinic and Senior Lecturer at the UNSW School of Taxation and Business Law, Dr Ann Kayis-Kumar, said taxpayers don’t always have the ability to navigate the tax system.
“Often our clients find life gets in the way with business troubles, health issues or hardship. Tax may not always be a priority and then a few years later the Australian Tax Office (ATO) knocks on the door. If you don’t have the resources or the network to be able to respond it can have a profound effect on your life and wellbeing,” said Dr Kayis-Kumar.
“The team are here to help by providing independent guidance in a safe space. We can negotiate with the ATO, help clients understand their obligations and outline some of the options available.
“We’re already seeing, from the clients and the financial counsellors we’ve spoken to at our outreach centres, an absolute genuine need for this service.”
Students attend the clinic and, under supervision of registered tax agents, assist clients with correspondence and demands from the ATO. Dr Kayis-Kumar said the real-world experience is invaluable for students entering the workforce.
Developing the pro bono culture
“Not only do our students have the opportunity to analyse real-word applications of tax concepts, working on case, education and policy files, but they cultivate a pro-bono ethic and give back to the community.
“UNSW has a long-established culture of offering pro bono legal service that is student-led under supervision,” said Dr Kayis-Kumar, noting it is an exciting first for Business School students studying Taxation and Business Law.
The UNSW Tax Clinic outreach services are located in the Sydney CBD and the Eastern Suburbs.
For more information or to apply for an appointment visit the UNSW Business School website.