A team of accounting and information management (AIM) students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business took third place in the Deloitte National FanTAXtic Case Competition, held at Deloitte University in Dallas, Texas.
The students — Javien Vinson, Zoe Dillard, Elizabeth Harwood and Natalie Murrah — were invited to nationals after excelling in the competition’s regional round in October 2021.
Alycia King, AIM lecturer, and LeAnn Luna, Jan R. Williams Professor in AIM, are the UT team’s faculty sponsors. King points out that the students’ performance was particularly impressive because they were all sophomores and juniors. This was only the second year that UT has sent a team to FanTAXtic.
“Although extremely proud, I am not surprised to see our students perform so well in this type of competition, given the quality of our students and the emphasis the AIM program puts on critical thinking and problem solving, both of which are essential to success in this type of case competition,” King says.
From Regionals to Nationals
Students were selected for the regional competition specifically because of their inexperience with tax matters. They worked with Deloitte professionals and faculty advisors on a planning exercise that centered around helping clients achieve business objectives while minimizing tax liability. The competitors were given several weeks to research, apply and present their recommendations.
The top two teams from each region were invited to the national competition, where they were given a few hours to go through a similar process on two additional planning exercises related to the original case. In one, students analyzed the benefits and drawbacks of taxable and nontaxable benefits that could be used to attract employees. In the other, they evaluated the tax consequences of debt financing versus equity financing.
King attributes the team’s success to collaboration skills, ability to solve problems under a time constraint and effectiveness at communicating findings. She also points out that the rules of the competition changed between 2020 and 2021, and if the 2020 team had been competing under 2021 rules, those students would have had the opportunity to attend the national competition as well.
“I am equally proud of these two teams’ performance and am looking forward to seeing continued success for competing teams going forward,” she says.
Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, firstname.lastname@example.org