Tax Office recognizes ASCC business students
Between January and April of this year, 18 Business students at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) volunteered to work at the Tax Office assisting members of the public who needed help filing their taxes. This past Wednesday, Tax Office auditor Maryjane Olo visited the ASCC campus to present these students with certificates of appreciation on behalf of her director Melvin Joseph and the rest of the department.
“For the past five years, ASCC Business students have provided assistance to us, but this year we had more of them than ever before,” said Olo before calling each student forward to receive his/her certificate. “In a program which benefits both the Tax Office and the College, this time the students exceeded our expectations.” Olo pointed out that even though the students were each required to spend 20 hours assisting the public with tax filing, many chose to continue their service well past that. In fact, student Ruta Lealasila spent a total of 60 hours working at the Tax Ofice.
The students volunteered their time as part of the Service Learning project of their Business class Payroll & Taxation (ACC 152-A) taught by Ms. Athena Mauga. “Helping the public file their taxes gives the students an opportunity to develop effective communication and management skills by handling many different situations and circumstances,” said Business Department Chairperson Dr. Faofua Fa’atoafe. “They also develop competency with the necessary technology and learn to use teamwork to solve problems and bring about results.”
Student Ruta Lealasila, who spent the most time at the Tax Office, said the experience will come in handy with her regular off-campus job at the Diocese of Samoa, Pago Pago Finance Office. “Now I understand the importance of maintaining accurate tax information when doing a payroll, especially with the necessary deductions” she said. Lealasila has also become something of an authority on which tax forms members of the public should use for different circumstances. “Not everyone here has a clear understanding of how to do their taxes,” she recalled. “Most people were very grateful for my help, but the only problem was listening to the complaints when some of them found out they had to pay instead of getting a refund.”
At Wednesday’s brief ceremony, ASCC Service Learning Coordinator Elisapeta Fa’alafi-Jones reminded the Business students that knowledge becomes most valuable when combined with experience. “We need young men and women who understand what goes on out in the community,” she said.
“It’s very commendable for our students to provide this service, but I also give credit to the Tax Office for giving them the opportunity to gain this experience. Effective Service Learning depends on those whom we serve being willing to receive us. By spending many more hours than they needed to at the Tax Office, these students have shown not only how willing they are to learn, but also how their hearts are with the community.”
The ASCC Business Department has long strived to combine classroom learning with experience in the outside world. Other examples this semester include Dr. Fa’atoafe leading members of the class Marketing and Management Practicum (MKT 212) on a ten day tour of businesses and factories in the Independent State of Samoa over the College’s Spring Break, and more recently, members of her class Business Communication in the Workplace (BUS 150) gaining as much experience with foreign countries as possible without actually going there by giving group presentations on the culture, art, and economies of Japan, Korea, India and Mexico.