Free tax clinic proves popular with locals

Kristin (sitting) found her experience as a student tax adviser rewarding.

Griffith University’s free Tax Clinic is proving popular with more than 50 locals accessing the program in its first month of operation.

Griffith Tax Clinic is held at the university’s Logan campus weekly by 14 student tax advisers under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners. Anyone without a registered tax agent is eligible to take advantage of the free clinic — including small businesses.

Customers from refugees and new immigrants, women returning to work and even rideshare drivers have taken advantage of the service, asking general questions about tax all the way through to having their tax return completed.

Student tax advisers.

Griffith University tax law professor Dr Brett Freudenberg said they recently helped one client who had not completed a tax return for half a decade.

“The anxiety for some people when dealing with the tax system can be quite confronting and it can be reassuring to actually sit down with someone and just go through the tax return with someone who can explain what some of those questions actually mean,” he said.

“Recently we had a client who had not done their tax return for five to six years… but they were able to come in, go through their records, get those tax returns lodged and actually found that each year they hadn’t done it, they were owed a refund.”

Dr Freudenberg said the clinic had also run several workshops for community members.

“One workshop was for The Sisters Project which aims to empower women by building their confidence and skills to start a small business,” he said.

“Another was in conjunction with the Queensland Government Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and was a free Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business capability workshop.”

Two more workshops will be held in the near future.

“The next month of operation looks exciting, as in addition to continuing to help people with their tax queries, we will be conducting a free public tax seminar on Tax and My Small Business,” Dr Freudenberg said.

There will also be a one-on-one workshop for high school students who will be starting an apprenticeship next year, named Tax and First Apprenticeship.