Accounting students tackle real-world challenges in 2009 xTAX competition.

Business is a place where theory is executed in real-time. Decisions carry consequences, communication is key and collaborative thinking a must.

The national xTAX case study competition, sponsored by global tax services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), encourages students to think outside the confines of the classroom where these business lessons can best be learned.

Students from FIU and Miami Dade College participated in the 2009 xTax case study competition, sponsored by global tax services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). At the national level, PwC recognized FIU as one of the schools with “the largest improvement in participation” versus a year ago. Representatives from PwC and the College of Business Administration mentored the teams.

In late 2009, eleven teams of five students representing the College of Business Administration’s School of Accounting and Miami Dade College (MDC) stepped up to the challenge. Each team worked through the PwC-provided case study that focused on financing health care reform for a fictitious country through a series of tax modifications. Several students from MDC joined the competition to help meet the requirement that each team include sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The teams worked for two weeks developing their case studies. They then participated in interactive presentations with PwC representatives. The presentations were videotaped, and the winning team’s video was submitted to compete with participating universities from across the country.

Judges name “The Intangibles” the winners.

The judges resoundingly declared “The Intangibles”—Giselle Arbas, Teresa Hernandez, Daniel Lopez, Ramon Medina and Adriana Ross—the winner of the local competition.

Members of “The Intangibles,” the winning team, front row from left to right: Teresa Hernandez, Giselle Arbas and Adriana Ross; and back row, from left to right: Ramon Medina and Daniel Lopez

According to Robert W McGee, director, Center for Accounting, Auditing and Tax Studies, once the judges heard this presentation, “their only discussion was about which team would be number two.”

McGee, along with PwC representative Diego Suarez, mentored “The Intangibles” throughout the case study development process.

While “The Intangibles” did not place in this year’s national competition, PwC did recognize Florida International University (FIU) as one of the schools with “the largest improvement in participation” when compared to last year’s entries.

Students gain from the experience, with career paths confirmed.

“Our brainstorm sessions were remarkable,” senior Hernandez said. “We learned a lot from each other and, overall, become aware of how tax policies can affect the growth of a country.”

Ross, a junior, noted that it was extremely helpful to see taxation from the legislative side.

“I’m passionate about accounting,” she said. “The xTAX competition confirmed that taxation is the area I want to pursue on my way to becoming a certified public accountant.”

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