Eleven of the 50 universities in greater China competing in the fifth Deloitte Tax Championship have made it through to the national finals. Among them are The University of Hong Kong and the Macau University of Science and Technology. More than 270 undergraduate and postgraduate students from 24 Chinese cities entered the event this year. The 11 undergraduate teams who reach the finals, to be held on October 16 in Xiamen, will have to analyse a simulated business case and present their solutions to a judging panel comprising senior tax officials and Deloitte clients and tax partners. In addition to the undergraduate case study competition, an essay competition is open to all postgraduates. This year, 21 postgraduates from 13 universities have submitted essays either commenting on China's tax system or discussing challenges and opportunities for enterprises in the new tax environment. Eight merit papers will be shortlisted in the first stage, and candidates will make a presentation to the judges on the national competition finals day to compete for the top three spots. Since the competition was launched in 2004, the number of participating teams has increased from 27 to this year's record high of 50. In addition to the case study competition, this year teams also faced four rounds of multiple-choice questions. Yvonne Law, Deloitte tax partner in Hong Kong and partner in charge of the Tax Championship Southern China group competitions, said that the teams were severely tested by the case study, which concerned a Bermuda-domiciled company with a trading company in Hong Kong and manufacturing operations in the mainland. Students were asked to estimate the value-added tax cost to the company under different models in order to assist the company to choose the best, most efficient model. They were also asked to assist the company to prepare a defence letter in response to a challenge by a tax official that there had been a significant drop in the enterprise income tax paid by the company. 'You can see the different skill sets we were trying to test the students for. In the case study, for example, we had five judging criteria including tax knowledge, analytical skills, comprehension skills, writing skills and presentation skills. The quiz also required them to think strategically,' Ms Law said. The competition is organised by Deloitte Tax Research Foundation, which aims to promote education, research and innovation in taxation through national and local programmes. According to Ms Law, the prime purpose of the competition is to promote wider understanding of China's tax system and to strengthen the firm's relationship with the various schools in greater China. 'We hope that we are encouraging people to study tax, and that in the process of finding out more about the profession they decide to build a career in it. We also hope that it will promote tax talent in greater China and awareness of the whole tax profession,' she said. Among the 11 teams testing their skills in the group competition was the team from the University of Hong Kong. Christina Ng, senior teaching consultant at the university's School of Business, has been coaching the four team members and said that the students were 'fantastic'. 'This year, in addition to the case study, the Q&A also tested the students' knowledge and their risk management skills in terms of whether they were willing to take a risk in answering, as well as their confidence in themselves,' she said. 'Some of the other teams didn't answer all the questions to avoid points being deducted for wrong answers, but our team tried to answer most of them. We were confident and we ended up with the very high marks which we needed to get to the final,' Dr Ng said.