ASCC Accounting Students Assisting Public with Taxes

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

January 31, 2018

Dr. Faofua Fa'atoafe, Mr. Taua'i and Mr. LamYuen with ASCC Business students

As they have done for nearly 10 years now, students from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will provide assistance to members of the public who need help preparing to file their taxes. Students from the College’s Business Department, most of them currently enrolled in the Accounting class ACC 152A (Payroll and Income Tax), as well as some Business Management majors, participated in a tax preparation training seminar and will now spend several hours per week stationed at the Tax Office, available to assist the public free of charge.

On behalf of the American Samoa Tax Office, headed by Toleafoa Vaai Poufa, representatives Ms. Maryann Olo, Senior Taxation Analyst, and Mr. Tim Mauga, Senior Auditor, conducted the seminar and orientation on tax preparation and tax code for the ASCC students at the beginning of the current spring 2018 semester. “We basically went through what to expect when dealing with taxpayers,” said Olo. “First, there are the documents that the taxpayer needs to provide in order to file their taxes, as well as what questions the students should ask to ensure accuracy. We covered the five tests in order to claim someone as a dependent on a return, as well as the rules to distinguish whether a child qualifies for the Child Tax Credit. We also went through the different forms students will use to prepare taxes.”

Olo explained that as the students settle-in to their roles as tax assistants, either she or another Tax Office employee reviews all of their work. “If they have questions or encounter a situation they cannot resolve, then they can refer the taxpayer to me or Tim or another office employee,” she said. The students schedule their hours at the Tax Office around their normal class schedule, and they will then work alongside with our own office employees to serve our community.”

“Consistent with the goals in our Program Statement for the Associate of Science degree in Accounting, serving as tax assistants helps students develop their communication, interpersonal, computational, leadership, and teamwork skills,” said ASCC Business Department chairperson Dr. Faofua Fa’atoafe. “It’s also a way both our department and our students contribute toward the economic well-being of the Territory.” Dr. Fa’atoafe’s department teaches the Business Management as well as the Accounting classes, and students have the option to pursue either or both as their major.

As a longtime observer of the ASCC students in action, Olo characterized the feedback on their services from the public as “generally positive.” She also noted that four current employees in the Tax Office are graduates from ASCC who participated in the tax assistance initiative. “This collaboration with the ASCC has proven to be successful,” said Olo. “Speaking on behalf of the Tax Office, we very much appreciate the opportunity to be of service to our students and their futures. “

For more information on the Accounting and Business programs at the College, see the ASCC Catalog online at: