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CDU to launch free tax service in Northern Territory

Charles Darwin University is set to launch free tax clinics in late June at several locations, after receiving $100,000 from the Australian Taxation Office.

CDU to launch free tax service in Northern Territory
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • May 15, 2019
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Chair of accounting and finance, Professor Indra Abeysekera, has received $100,000 from the ATO to fund a trial tax clinic, where people who do not have their own professional advice can receive assistance from tax students.

The College of Business and Law academic said the free clinics would start in late June at several locations, including the Darwin Innovation Hub in the central business district, at shopping centres in the northern suburbs and Palmerston, and in Alice Springs.

“This is an exciting initiative that we see as a ‘win-win’ for clients and our students, as well as being of benefit to the tax system in general,” Professor Abeysekera said.

“Our accounting students will have the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience of dealing with clients in a real-life setting. This sort of experience is critical to ensuring that our students will be job-ready by the time they have completed their qualification.”

Professor Abeysekera said students would provide a wide range of services, including tax advisory work, report and filing obligations, debt and payment negotiations, and disputes or ongoing issues with the ATO.

"With the focus on unrepresented, lower-income clients and micro and small business owners, we will not be competing with professional tax accountants,” he explained. 

Professor Abeysekera said that while some logistical details remained to be determined, the clinics would likely be conducted on Saturdays between 11am and 2pm.

“We are in the process of developing a website and other point-of-contact mechanisms, which we will announce as soon as they are ready,” he said.

Earlier this year, the federal government committed $1 million to trialling tax clinics across Australia, providing general tax advice to individual or small business taxpayers.

It said at the time that 10 clinics will be set up in major and regional universities, and will run adjacent to the ATO’s existing support services direct to taxpayers.

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