The Griffith Tax Clinic has celebrated three years of providing free assistance to the community. The clinic allows Griffith University students under supervision to provide much-needed assistance to locals in helping them complete their tax returns, as well as negotiate with the Tax Office on their behalf. In its first three years of operation, the clinic has assisted over 500 clients (including nearly 200 small businesses) and conducted 46 workshops to over 1,460 attendees.
Leading the Tax Clinic are Dr Melissa Belle Isle, and Professor Brett Freudenberg, together with registered tax agent Colin Perryman and their dedicated tax students.
Clients have included some of the most vulnerable in the community, including refugees, immigrants, small business owners and women returning to work. Many of these clients have years of outstanding tax returns and they are scared of what this means for them because they don’t know their rights or options. For example, last year the Griffith Tax Clinic’s registered tax agent, Collin Perryman, and student tax advisor, Kitty Evas, were able to assist a client facing financial difficulty. Professor Freudenberg explained that the team
“were able to get the client a refund of over $40,000 from the ATO and worked with the Bankruptcy Department of the ATO directly and we were able to immediately update his status as no longer bankrupt.“
“This is just one of many examples where we have been able to provide tax assistance to some of the most vulnerable segments of society”, Brett said.
Dr Melissa Belle Isle says that while the Clinic provides free tax assistance to the community, it also provides Griffith Business School students with the opportunity to work in a fully functioning tax practitioner’s office, and allows them to experience the importance of volunteering their time and giving back to the community.
As the Clinic prepares to induct a new group of students in 2023, Dr Belle Isle explained why she finds the work they do so rewarding.
“I was personally unprepared and surprised at how much value I found in being able to give back to the community and to help improve the lives of its people who otherwise would have not been able to afford assistance. This new insight has helped me narrow my view on my future career goals, to ensure that I work in a position where I feel that I can have an effective impact on people’s lives and help empower them to resolve their tax issues.”
2023 will be another big year for the Clinic, planning to work with High Schools to improve the financial literacy of students and enhance collaboration with key stakeholders to provide more assistance to those in need.
Given the positive outcomes of the Clinic, it has successfully secured additional Federal funding which will see the Clinic continue operating until at least February 2025. The Clinic would love to expand its operations if it can obtain additional funding, and welcomes interested parties to contact it.
The Griffith Tax Clinic will open to the public again in Trimester 1, 2023, however, they take enquiries at any time during the year. Visit the website for more information.