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Honors Students Excel in xTAX Competition

Recently, numerous Honors College students participated in the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) xTAX Competition.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers xTAX Competition, part of the PwC xTreme Games, kicked off on Monday, September 28, 2009. The event centered on a simple introduction to the competition and subsequent distribution of the “Dutan Business Network” case. The case focused on health care reform and required teams to finance a portion or all future health care cost through the creation or modification of existing tax codes. Fifteen teams of five students competed in this contest. Each team was given two weeks to analyze the case and determine their solutions. On Monday, October 12, 2009, these teams presented their recommendations and solutions to a board constituted of senior managers and partners at PwC in a 20-minute presentation, which included a question and answer element.

The judges indicated that each year the competition improves at the University of Houston. This year, the judges were extremely impressed with the creativity and effort that teams put into their recommendations. Some of the judges even joked fondly about the unique phrases they remembered hearing during the presentations throughout the day.

The teams performed so well that two UH teams were awarded $1,000 and one team was selected for consideration as a finalist in the upcoming National PwC xTAX Competition (to be held shortly). National finalists will travel to Washington, DC, to meet with experts from PwC’s Washington National Tax Services Group and to compete for the “Hamilton Award” given to the national winning team.

However, the most exciting element of these victories was the significant role that Honors students played. Honors College students composed  the majority of the second place team, “The Accounting Xperts,” and the first place team, “hTAC (Health Tax Advisory Committee).” Congratulations to Zahra Usmani, Amy Demmler, Sarayu Sundar, and Melissa Hernandez, the Honors students on “The Accounting Xperts,” and to Andrew Conachey, Katherine Welch, Nick Larralde, and Benjamin Cohen-Kurzrock, the Honors students on “hTAC.”