William & Mary

W&M team brings home tax challenge victory

  • Tax challenge champions
    Tax challenge champions  Professor Jim Smith poses with his team, William Amante, (lower row) Samantha Phillips, Maria Pawlosky, Sarah Parsons and Cara Ferraro.  Photo by Eric Pesola
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Every brand of competition has their juggernauts that seem to dominate year after year. For example, in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees are the perennial team to beat with the best players money can buy; in college basketball Duke is both admired and despised because of their penchant for winning. And in the Deloitte Tax Challenge, it is the team from the College of William and Mary that dominates year after year. 2011 is no different, as Professor Jim Smith piloted his group to an incredible 11th first place finish at this year’s competition in Dallas.

The team, composed of undergraduate business students William Amante, Cara Ferraro, Sarah Parsons, Maria Pawlosky and Samantha Phillips brought home the coveted Deloitte “FanTAXtics” trophy to Miller Hall, completing their goal of joining the ten others teams who have won it all for William & Mary in the past 18 years of competition.

“Every team is very different as a set of individuals than any of the others,” said Smith, when asked to compare this year’s group to his other championship taxletes. “We have very focused, bright and motivated students who take the suggestions that I give and are willing to put forth the effort.”

The Deloitte Tax Challenge, now known as the FanTAXtics program, is a competition that pushes teams to make a presentation based on real-world federal or state tax scenarios to a board of directors who are not well versed in tax code or law. The W&M team competed and won their regional competition in Atlanta and moved on to face the other eight regional winners. In all, 83 teams participated in the competition.

“The most interesting thing about the presentations was we were expecting a highly technical tax memo getting into the nitty-gritty tax details, and that’s what we were preparing for months,” said Ferraro, a senior accounting major. “They were really trying to make this experience reflect what the real world is like. We still had to do the calculations, and we had to make it make sense to the board of directors.”

Ferraro speaks for the rest of the team when she noted the time commitment involved with the challenge, and that many of her classmates were well aware of the hours that she was putting into the research behind their entry.

“Friends would ask me if I could go out to the movies and I would say that I couldn’t because I had a group meeting at 8 a.m. on a Saturday,” said Ferraro. “Everyone has been really supportive of us through this process.”

And much like the Yankees or the Blue Devils, before the champagne and confetti are cleaned up from this year’s win, Smith and his taxletes are working on adding to their championship trophy case.

“We are already looking at the recruitment process for next year’s team,” said Ferraro.