23 April 2019 • Gideon Wille
Students help residents of The Hague with their tax returns
Those who have difficulty with filing in their tax return can get help at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in mid April. Together with the Tax and Customs Administration (the Dutch Tax Authorities), 62 Accountancy students will spend four days helping around three thousand people file their tax returns. Leni Behre: “The student who explained everything to me was the best.”
Thousands of students make the daily trek from Hollands Spoor station to the characteristic round main building of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. But around mid April suddenly a whole other group of people begins to arrive in a never-ending stream. The ordinary residents of the Hague know the way to the university. They are often a bit older and easily identifiable by their plastic bag full of paperwork. They look around, searching, feeling a bit out of place among all those young people.
Take a seat
Once they have entered the main building, they come to a counter staffed with the same young people. The visitors receive a friendly welcome and are asked to take a seat on a hard plastic chair before a student emerges who takes them to a room with dozens of tables and buzzing with activity. They take a seat, empty their plastic bag and the work can begin…
“It’s fun,” says Kuljit Sumal, a second-year Accountancy student. “You really interact with people, they sometimes tell stories about the house they bought or about their job. At first I thought that filing tax returns all day would be a bit boring, but it is not. The process of filling them out is always the same, but the situation of each customer is different every time. You help people and they go home happy.”
Sumal feels that they are well prepared. HUBA (Assistance with Tax Returns) is a practical component of the Tax Law module. In this module, students receive specific lessons on income tax and in the last two weeks they work to get ready for HUBA, with the help of staff members of the Tax and Customs Administration. If a student has questions during HUBA, there is always a Tax and Customs Administration staff member standing by to provide assistance.
Vikaash Koeldiep, team leader in the Accountancy degree programme, explains that HUBA is a great way for students to gain knowledge and experience. “University of applied sciences education is practice-oriented, which is why HUBA is such a great fit. The students directly apply in practice what they learn in the module. But we also participate because we want to make our students into global citizens. By doing this, students realise that they are part of society and that you have certain responsibilities.”
And what is the experience of the HUBA clients? Leni Behre from The Hague: “I had a very pleasant meeting with student Peter Paardekoper. He was knowledgeable and provided friendly and professional assistance. He also explained clearly how I could file my own taxes next year. My compliments!”
HUBA is an initiative of the Tax and Customs Administration, through a partnership with universities of applied sciences in various cities. The clients are selected by the Tax and Customs Administration. The Hague University and the Tax and Customs Administration have been organising HUBA for more than ten years.
Kuljit Sumal, second year Accountancy student: “You help people and they go home happy.”