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Marriott students win first, second place in national tax competition

A team of four accounting graduate students from Brigham Young University's Marriott School won first place in the national Deloitte & Touche Tax Challenge competition.

The school's undergraduate team placed second in a separate division.

"We're extremely proud of our students' performance," says Ned C. Hill, dean of the Marriott School. "BYU is the only university to ever have both teams place in the top three in the same year. We have achieved this for five consecutive years and six times since the competition began 11 years ago."

Deloitte & Touche officials selected six graduate and six undergraduate teams as finalists to compete in two divisions from 60 teams representing 40 colleges and universities in regional competition.

Finalists were presented with a complex case study that required them to analyze data, identify issues and consider tax solutions for a fictitious client. Students were given only five hours to solve the client's problem and write a solution.

"This competition requires students to think creatively," says Ron Worsham, associate professor of accounting and graduate team advisor. "Some parts of the problem have basically one right answer, but other parts are open-ended. Being able to apply creative solutions distinguishes the winners."

Graduate team members Alicia Carlson, Aurora, Colo.; Laura Hancock, Bothell, Wash.; Matt Dobberfuhl, Barron, Wis.; and Jennifer Borneman, Philadelphia, Pa., will each receive a $1,000 scholarship, and the Marriott School's School of Accounting and Information Systems will receive a $10,000 grant. Undergraduate team members Terry Jackson, Henderson, Nev.; Marianne Hafen, Las Vegas, Nev.; Matt Walton, Campbell, Calif.; and Linda Andrews, Taylorsville, Utah, will each receive $500 scholarships and a $5,000 grant for the school.

"BYU is the dominating team in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions," says John Barrick, assistant professor of accountancy and undergraduate team advisor. "Our biggest strength is that we have really great students who take pride in representing the university and the Marriott School."

The Deloitte & Touche Foundation sponsors the annual competition to help students prepare for tax careers and to raise interest in tax areas of study. It teaches students to think critically and efficiently in a timed situation. They are exposed to real-world issues that tax professionals encounter with their clients.

"Having teams that consistently place so well in this competition has helped established the Marriott School's reputation as a leader in accounting education," Hill says. "We are fortunate to have such a capable and student-oriented faculty."

Writer: April Ebbert

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