A Corporate Tax Return Simulation: Utilizing Electronic Work Papers and Resolving Ambiguous Issues


School of Accountancy

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017

Embargo Period



Practitioners routinely note that new staff lack documentation skills, communication skills, and strong Excel skills. Further, new staff report critical thinking, written and oral communication, teamwork, and project management skills deserve greater emphasis in Master of Accountancy programs. The AICPA's Model Tax Curriculum (2014) suggests active learning approaches be used to enable students to build communication, critical-thinking and interpersonal skills. This case uses a realistic corporate tax return preparation experience to address these criticisms by focusing on four main areas: time management, communication, research, and technical skills. The case is divided into two phases. In Phase 1, students review client information, generate requests from the client for missing information, keep a log of hours spent on the project, research ambiguous issues, meet with the project "senior" to obtain guidance, and prepare electronic work papers. In Phase 2, students incorporate feedback from the senior's review of their work papers to make corrections, prepare a corporate tax return, and create a client letter. Student feedback about the project is positive.

Journal Title

Issues in Accounting Education

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)