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BYU students win top honors at "extreme" tax competition

Taxes probably wouldn’t place very high on most people’s lists of extreme activities. But five Brigham Young University students took accounting to the next level as they won the national xTREME Taxation Competition in Washington, D.C.

“This win shows the great capabilities of our students, especially when faced with a challenging business problem,” says John Barrick, xTAX faculty adviser. “It teaches them teamwork, how to think outside the box, good presentation skills and of course technical tax skills.”

BYU has been a national finalist for seven of the case competition’s nine years, making it the most frequent visitor to the national event, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers. A team of Marriott School students last won xTAX in 2005.

To start the competition, preliminary campus-wide events were held at 38 universities around the nation. Seventeen teams of five members each competed in the BYU competition in October. PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives then viewed the winning team from each of the participating schools to pick the top five to advance to the national finals.

This year’s case focused on how changes in sales and use tax policy would affect a hypothetical company in an imaginary country. Teams had two weeks to prepare their case presentation, then just 12 minutes to present and 15 minutes to answer judges’ questions.

The xTAX competition is unique because teams are required to have at least two sophomores and one junior. The winning BYU team consisted of accounting students Katherine Anderson, a senior from Richmond, Va.; Cameron Doe, a sophomore from Dallas; Sarah Simpson, a junior from Eagle, Idaho; Jeshua Wright, a senior from Freeport, Maine; and economics sophomore Hegon Chase from Seoul, Korea.

Wright credits the team’s diversity and balance as major contributors to their win. “All five of us really practiced and knew the material, so it was the complete team that made the difference.”  

Hundreds of students from around the country participated in the competition, making BYU’s showing as the top team in the nation even more impressive and giving team members a glimpse into the real world.

“This was definitely a great experience,” Wright says. “It was helpful to be exposed to this and see myself doing it as a career.”

For this and other Marriott School of Management news releases, visit the online newsroom at marriottschoool.byu.edu/news.

Writer: Michelle Treasure

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