Baylor team one of nine to compete at national tax competition

By Jennifer Kang

A team of five students will represent Baylor at FanTAXic, a national tax competition held by Deloitte LLP, a tax-consulting agency that focuses on audit and financial services.

The team consists of Dallas senior Michael Sepulveda, Southlake senior Abbie Stonecypher, Katy junior Andrew Petry, Plano sophomore Chayse Harvard and Pasadena sophomore Rachel Brod. Houston senior Rachel Deere, who attended the regional competition, will be replaced by Stonecypher at the national level.

The team, which competed at the 2011 Deloitte FanTAXic Regional Competition in Dallas from Oct. 21-22, is one out of nine advancing to the national competition, which will take place Nov. 18-20 at Deloitte University, located just outside of Dallas.

The competition is designed to expose students to the tax profession early in their academic careers, said Janet Butchko, manager of foundation and university relations for Deloitte.

“The interactive program includes a case simulation, role playing and presentations to help students better understand the types of experiences and business challenges they can expect from a career in tax,” Butchko said. “The competition provides an opportunity for students from some of the nation’s top accounting and tax programs to gain a real-world experience.”

Team member Michael Sepulveda said the team was given the case two weeks in advance and told to prepare tax advice for a company, a job similar to what a consulting firm would do. However, while the teams received their cases two weeks in advance of the regional competition, they won’t receive their cases until the first day of the national competition.

“They had various objectives that they wanted us to complete [at the regional competition], so we analyzed what they wanted, made our suggestions and gave the tax implications of those suggestions and presented to their board,” Sepulveda said.

Rachel Deere, who competed with the team in the regional competition, said the team was asked to present the tax implications of growth opportunities, financing options and also the creation of a charity organization by a company that owns and operates gyms.

“We were given certain opportunities that the company could choose, such as acquiring new properties or bringing to market a new invention,” Deere said. “We had to select what opportunities we wanted to act on and how we would get the money. We had to select what the best opportunities and financing operations were based on tax consequences.”

At the regional competition, the team presented a 15-20 minute PowerPoint followed by a five to 10 minute question and answer session based on a consulting conference.

“The judges certainly looked for the students’ ability to present a PowerPoint presentation in a concise, clear and thoughtful manner,” Butchko said. “Part of it was also the presentation style, which [the students] probably haven’t presented in. It wasn’t necessarily if they had the right answer, but certainly if they substantiated and acknowledged the clients’ consideration in their presentation.”

Deere credited the accounting department for providing students with opportunities to compete, and said the competitions she has participated in have given her plenty of real-world experience.

“The presentation was like a business meeting, as if we were a consulting agency coming and talking about ways to help the company,” Deere said. “I think it’s something you would see more in the business world than in a classroom.”