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March 7, 2006
Contact: Toni Dixon, School of Business, (785) 864-4449.

KU business students establish Web site to clarify Katrina-spawned tax law changes

LAWRENCE — To help taxpayers make sense of changes in tax law due to Hurricane Katrina, some graduate students at the University of Kansas School of Business have created a Web site for affected taxpayers, employers and donors to charitable organizations.

The site — www.ku.edu/~katrina — is intended for taxpayers and donors, not tax professionals. The students hope to inform people so they can help their tax advisers prepare accurate tax returns. Tax changes included such items as expanding deductions for charitable donations and donation of personal leave time to other employees.

Raquel Alexander, assistant professor in tax, prompted the students to analyze new Katrina tax laws. The students dissected it piece by piece with the goal of creating a Web site that would break down the new provisions into an easy and readable format.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t go down to Louisiana to help people with their taxes, so this was our way of disseminating that information,” Alexander said.

Congress passed the first Katrina tax law in October. Each student was assigned a section of the tax code pertaining to the new law. The students condensed and rewrote their assigned sections and presented their final drafts to the class. After additional suggestions and a few changes, the students combined the disparate parts into one unified site, which was produced by a volunteer marketing student.

“It was a great opportunity for the students to read the tax code, to understand the new law and then present it in a way that all taxpayers could comprehend,” Alexander said.

In mid-December, the students were adding the finishing touches to the site when President Bush announced a revision to the previous Katrina tax law. Even though the semester had ended, the students volunteered to update most of the site during their winter break.

“There’s real money on the line for the people who were affected. Our students recognized that and gave up some free time to get the correct information out there,” Alexander said. “It was such a worthwhile project and a true testament to our students’ devotion.”

To make the tax provisions even easier to understand, the students created examples to show how the law works.

“We like to use examples in class as a way to enhance learning,” Alexander said. “The students decided it would be an effective way to present the material on the Web site, as well. So they thought up and wrote out all the examples. It truly was a student-led and student-delivered project.”

For more information, visit www.business.ku.edu or call (785) 864-3795.

Graduate students contributing to this project are listed below by their hometowns, their parents names, undergraduate degree and high school information when available (zip codes are included for some urban areas). With the exception of three students who received masterís degrees in accounting and information systems in December 2005, all others are working on masterís degrees in business.

ALLEN COUNTY
From Iola
Michaela Grace Spence, daughter of Carol Ross, has a bachelorís degree in business from KU and is a graduate of Iola Senior High School.

COFFEY COUNTY
From Burlington
Kyle Scott Devena, son of Stan and Janice Devena, is currently completing an internship in business. He has a bachelorís degree in business from KU and is a graduate of Burlington High School.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Kelly Elizabeth Agnelli has a bachelorís in business from Central Missouri State University.

April Aroon Brack has a bachelorís in business from KU and is graduate of Plainville High School.

Amanda Hope Franklin received a masterís in accounting and information systems in December 2005 and has a bachelorís in business from KU.

Christina Janell Mier has a bachelorís in business from KU and is Lawrence High School graduate.

Kayley Jo Nelson has a bachelorís degree from Bethany College in Lindsborg.

EDWARDS COUNTY
From Kinsley and Del Valle, Texas
Amber Rose Hirsh, daughter of David Hirsh and of Renee Hirsh of Del Valle, Texas, has a bachelorís degree in business from KU and is a Kinsley High School graduate.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Olathe
Rebecca Ann Foster, daughter of Robert Foster, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is an Olathe North High School graduate.

John Daniel Guernsey, son of Anita and Brock Guernsey (66062), has a bachelorís in business from KU and is an Olathe North High School graduate.

From Overland Park
Candace M. Chaney, daughter of Chris and Janet Chaney (66213), has a bachelorís in business from KU and is Blue Valley Northwest High School graduate.

Owais Zahid Nazir, son of Zahid and Rukhana Nazir (66223), received a masterís in accounting and information systems in December 2005, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is Blue Valley High School graduate.

From Shawnee (66226)
Jeffrey Alan Herman has a bachelor's in business from KU.

From Stilwell (66085)
Neal Carl Kellenberger, son of Randy and Karen Kellenberger, received a masterís in accounting and information systems in December 2005, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is Blue Valley High School graduate.

RILEY COUNTY
From Manhattan
Sarah Jane Kenyon, daughter of Jane Kenyon, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is a Manhattan High School graduate.

SEDGWICK COUNTY
From Colwich (67030)
Michelle Rene Gorges, daughter of W. Mark and Patricia Gilbert, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is an Andale High School graduate.

From Wichita (67204)
Jaron Robert Anderson, son of Juli and Rob Anderson, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is a Wichita Heights High School graduate.

THOMAS COUNTY
From Colby
Adam Chris Sweet, son of Dee and Kathy Sweet, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is an Atwood High School graduate.

WYANDOTTE COUNTY
From Kansas City
Audrey Dawn Huston, daughter of Randy and Sharon Huston, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is Turner High School graduate.

NEW YORK
From West Islip
Caitlin Mary Rockett, daughter of James and Christine Rockett, has a bachelorís in business from KU and is a West Islip High School graduate.

TEXAS
From Del Valle (78617) and Kinsley, Kan.
Amber Rose Hirsh, daughter of Renee Hirsh and of David Hirsh of Kinsley, Kan., has a bachelorís degree in business from KU and is a Kinsley (Kan.) High School graduate.

PARAGUAY
From Asuncion
Myosun Kim Choi, daughter of Sung Chul Kim, has a bachelorís degree in business from KU and graduated from high school in Paraguay.

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