When international student Kapil Bansal tried to do his taxes last year, he needed help. Thanks to students in an accounting class at the University, he received the help he needed.
“I think I will do my taxes myself this year,” said Bansal, the Minnesota International Student Association president. “It isn’t that difficult, and they showed me what to do.”
Gary Carter, a Carlson School of Management professor, supervises the project and said it is good, hands-on, practical work for the students. The class, Foreign National Tax Consulting (ACCT 5320), is a two-credit, half-semester class. Students will continue to volunteer their time for the class after it ends Tuesday.
The student volunteers get together Tuesday nights from Feb. 8 to April 5 and help international students with their taxes. Carter said most international students don’t realize filing taxes is part of their visa agreement and they can get in trouble if they don’t do it.
“Some people from international scholars services office came to me and said, ‘We really need help with these students and filing their taxes,’ ” Carter said. “We have helped in the past over a thousand students during tax season.”
Carter said there is an online signup, which is usually full.
Bansal said, “A lot of people just don’t know what to do. This gives them an overview about what taxes are about.”
He said he knows many people who have misconceptions about whether they need to file taxes.
The program has existed for approximately 10 years and is associated with the Internal Revenue Service and the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Carter said there are between 3,000 and 5,000 international students and scholars on campus, along with other colleges and universities in the Twin Cities, who take advantage of the program.
He said it is also a way for students to learn how to prepare international students’ taxes.
“Most accountants don’t know much about international, nonalien taxes,” Carter said. “Both groups get a lot out of the situation.”
Bansal said many international students who use the service then help their friends with taxes.
“It is good to get professional help,” Bansal said. “Then, you know you are doing it right.”
Lea Kuschel will graduate this spring from the University and said she took the class because it sounded interesting.
“We get a chance to prepare taxes, which is something that you don’t usually get to do in classes,” Kuschel said.
Because they work with any international student or scholar, Kuschel said, it can be difficult.
“We have different tax treaties with every country,” Kuschel said. “We get a wide array of people coming in with different laws pertaining to them.”
Kuschel said the class is a “great offering” for accounting students and that she appreciates having a teacher like Carter who works in the real world.
“People who have done internships may have client work, but this is also a great way for us to learn how to work with clients,” Kuschel said. “We are actually providing a service, and the people who come in are usually very thankful.”
Kuschel said she enjoys the hands-on experience.
“It’s nice to do something outside of tests and group work that will actually help you in real life,” she said.
International students can receive help with their taxes from 5:45 to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays in L117 Carlson School of Management.