Members of the SIU 2022-23 Deloitte FanTAXtic team (from left) Lexie Lingle, Ben Morgan, Jayda Smith, Matthew Carrazco and Mackenzie Piazza. Photo by Russell Bailey
November 15, 2022
SIU student team advances to national business competition after beating top schools in regional competition
Carbondale, ill. — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Business student team is preparing to compete in a national competition on business solutions after the Saluki team took home top honors after beating two top All-Americans in regional competitions over the past two years competition. What makes this feat all the more notable is that this is the first time SIU has participated in the Deloitte FanTAXtic case competition, which presents students with real-world business challenges and asks them to propose solutions that address business and tax implications.
Hundreds of students from more than 40 colleges and universities across the country competed in eight regional competitions sponsored by Deloitte Tax LLP, with the top two teams from each region advancing. SIU is the winner of District 5 and outpaces a competition that includes the 2020 national champions, Truman State, Baylor and other strong competitors. The University of Northern Iowa, a runner-up in the 2021 national game, is the other university to advance to the national game from District 5.
Saluki team members are:
- Mackenzie Piazza, senior accounting and finance student Normal, Illinois.
- Matthew Carrazco, from Des Plaines, Illinois.
- Lexie Lingle, an accounting major from her sophomore year Anna, Illinois.
- Jayda Smith, a sophomore accounting student Marion, Illinois.
- Ben Morgan, freshman finance major, from Kankakee, Illinois.
Tim Hurley, a clinical assistant professor of accounting, served as the team’s faculty advisor.
Piazza said she was excited to play in the team competition as soon as she heard about it.
“Deloitte is one of the highest-paid professional services firms in the world,” she said, “and I wanted to be a part of that and show them that SIU has great students who will benefit from being recruited by their firms.”
She also wants to prove to herself and everyone else that SIU has what it takes to compete with the top schools in the country. She and her teammates believe they did just that.
Take on real-life challenges
Hurley said the competition provides experiential learning that complements students’ classroom instruction and helps prepare the next generation for careers in business and taxation because it provides students with the opportunity to tackle complex real-world tax issues. The interactive format of the competition included case simulations, role-plays and presentations, providing students with insights and perspectives on the challenges facing the industry today, future trends and the changing business tax market. Deloitte Tax LLP professionals, managers and partners provide support and guidance to students during the competition and act as clients.
Each group of college students has a specific case to work on, a “client” who owns a business and wants to start a new, independent venture. To fund a startup, owners can sell one of three investments they make: two different types of stock or Federal I bonds. Which option has the lowest overall tax liability based on the client’s personal circumstances and existing business income? Based on the financial projections provided by the client, what type of business entity should the client form based on tax and other business considerations? These are questions that the SIU team must consider before making detailed recommendations with data to support its position.
A regional Zoom competition late last month asked entrants to create a PowerPoint presentation of their proposal, make an oral presentation, and then answer questions from judges. Hurley said the competition helped students improve their problem-solving, teamwork and public speaking skills, and provided them with an invaluable opportunity to learn about career prospects in taxation.
Piazza knew that in preparing for the competition, the tax-focused research and work that would be done in a real business to make tax decisions, run the numbers and prove the effectiveness of the recommendations, and other aspects of the competition, would be in line with She will encounter situations similar to those in her accounting career and it will be an invaluable experience.
“It was all new to me when we started preparing for this game, but I was just trying to apply what I learned in class this year, and it worked,” Carrasco said.
hard work and a lot of time
Lingle said the competition provided a unique opportunity to test her ability to conduct research and spot strengths while learning more about general taxation and working with other SIU business students.
Piazza said the Saluki team spends 5-7 hours a week researching internal tax laws and calculating tax liabilities for various decisions “clients” are considering. After taking regular accounting and business classes, they meet to “dive in depth on the tax issues that many entrepreneurs and successful businesses must consider.”
“We spent a lot of time working on our own, meeting in the library and practicing via Zoom,” Lingle said. She said that although it was hard work, time-consuming, trial and error, it was also full of fun.
“Each team member works really hard to do their job and help other team members as needed,” she said.
When the results were announced, Lingle and Smith were together, both pleasantly surprised and excited. “I’m very proud of the hard work of my teammates,” Lingel said. “We worked well together as a team and it was easy to showcase our skills on this project.”
Piazza agreed, saying that after spending so much time researching and assembling tax slides, followed by hours of speaking practice on race day, “it felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders, all of our The hard work paid off. It was also very exciting to know that we outperformed some of the top accounting programs in the country, beat them and earned a place to move on.”
Hurley said the team was most impressed with their work and dedication.
He noted that while he provided the team with guidance and general information about the race, they did all the preparation and actual race work themselves. Plus, they triumphed despite the fact that only two of the students took actual tax classes at this point in their college careers, even though they did have experience in other business classes, he said.
“These students are very busy, not only with classes and homework, but also with work and other extracurricular activities,” Hurley said. “They’re motivated, goal-oriented professionals who worked hard to win this game. It’s all of them. That’s what makes it all the more impressive.”
Benna Williams, program coordinator and associate lecturer in the School of Accountancy and a CPA, said the students represented their university well.
“I am very proud of the hard work and dedication our students have put into this competition and I thank Professor Hurley for leading the team to such a great achievement and opportunity,” she said.
Smith said winning looks “amazing” on her resume. “I think employers are really going to be impressed.”
Smith said that because of her hard work and what she learned at SIU, she has already interned at Hudgens and Meyer LLC in Marion and has secured another internship in St. Louis for winter and summer 2024. Grant Thornton LLC St. Louis office. Combined with winning the competition, she feels she is off to a great start in her accounting career thanks to her experience and education at SIU.
Now, students are already hard at work preparing for the January 1st FanTAXtic competition. Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, 20-22, 2023. With the support of the Deloitte Foundation, SIU will compete against 15 competitors in a live competition sponsored by Deloitte Tax LLP.
“Going into the national competition, we’re excited to continue learning and take on the challenge as a team,” said Piazza, noting that the teammates have become good friends, so collaborating in analyzing difficult tax situations meant even more. “We are excited to continue to demonstrate that Salukis can compete with the top accounting programs in the country.”