M.S. Taxation Grad Ready to Help Taxpayers

Adam Ohnstad, M.S. Taxation

(May 19, 2016) - Congratulations to Class of 2016 graduate Adam Ohnstad! Adam plowed through the Federal Tax Code, learned about accounting for businesses, studied real estate taxes and reviewed international transactions to earn his Master of Science in Taxation

Not only did he maintain a high GPA and earn an Outstanding Graduate Student Award nomination, he did it all while battling severe, progressive vision loss. 

“The visual condition that I have gradually degenerates my vision,” he said. “I wanted to advance through my education while I still had residual vision. In the first classes of the program, I could still read a little, but now I only have enough vision to identify lights, and I have learned to rely on my technology.” 

That meant investing in books to accommodate his visual impairment, working with instructors to verbalize everything written on whiteboards during lectures, and having a proctor reading him exam questions. 

“All the professors were willing to work with me to figure out how to best accommodate me. I learned to ask for assistance, knowing and trusting that they were understanding and were going to help me,” Adam said. 

Now that he’s graduating, Adam focuses on the excitement of his future as a tax expert, not his visual condition. 

“I am looking into teaching accounting and tax courses, and I’m considering working privately as an advocate for taxpayers,” he said. “I was involved with the Bookstein Institute’s low-income tax clinic. That allowed me to put the knowledge gained from the classroom into practical use.” 

U.S. taxpayers and businesses spend 7.6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements and winding through intricacies of the Tax Code. Between 2001 and 2013, Congress made nearly 5,000 changes to the Tax Code, which has nearly 4 million words. Through his education, Ohnstad learned to decipher this dense text and apply it to his work. 

“I learned how to integrate tax knowledge into real-life taxpayer problems. I feel comfortable assisting clients to identify the major issues facing them, and figuring out ways to address those concerns. Many complex issues can be reduced to manageable components.” 

And for those brave enough to give it a look, here’s the Internal Revenue Code in full.