The Marriage of Sharon and Henry Sawbones: A Forensic Case Illustrating the Use of a Tax Return in a Litigation Advisory Services Context
Quirin, Jeffrey J.
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Jeffrey J. Quirin and David O'Bryan (2015) The Marriage of Sharon and Henry Sawbones: A Forensic Case Illustrating the Use of a Tax Return in a Litigation Advisory Services Context. Issues in Accounting Education In-Press.
This case is designed for use in a forensic accounting curriculum at the undergraduate or graduate level. The case contains no allegations of fraud. Rather, it illustrates the subset of forensic accounting referred to as litigation advisory services and is based upon an actual case that was investigated by the lead author working as a litigation support consultant. The case utilizes the problem-based learning approach wherein students are put in the role of the forensic accountant and must request additional information from the instructor. Students must first review a personal income tax return to develop a list of financial documents that would serve as a discovery request when assisting a family law attorney and his divorcing client. Using the information obtained from their requests, students must then prepare an income exhibit and an asset/liability exhibit that will support the client's need for a division of the marital estate, spousal maintenance, and child support. The process of using a completed income tax return to reconstruct the couple's asset and income profile not only mirrors the real-world engagement, but also complements and reinforces any prior courses in taxation. Student feedback on the case was extremely positive across all dimensions. Students reported having a better understanding of the role of a forensic accountant in the litigation process and enhanced abilities in analyzing a personal income tax return.
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