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Employment Tax audit under way for University

The audit is the result of a random selection as an institution that offered early retirement plan

Ohio University received notification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it would be performing an Employment Tax audit, which began the end of last month. The University was selected for audit as a result of the Early Retirement Incentive Plans (ERIP) and Voluntary Employment Separation Plans (VESP) approved by the Board of Trustees in 2011. The selection for audit is not the result of any particular finding, but a random selection as an institution that offered early retirement plan.

According to Deb Shaffer, senior associate vice president of finance and administration, "If there are any findings reported in the audit, we will use the information to improve our business processes to ensure compliance with the IRS regulations."

The IRS has been placing specific focus on higher education over the past five years. In 2008 approximately 400 public and private institutions were required to complete compliance questionnaires surrounding "high risk" areas. More than 30 of those institutions were selected for audit based on practices identified in the questionnaire process.  Audits usually last from six months to two or more years.

"We take our obligations to be in compliance with IRS regulations very seriously," says Shaffer. "In order to help manage the scope of the audit, as well as leverage the process that many of our peers have already undergone, we have engaged a third party, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to advise and represent us throughout the audit.  PWC is one of the most widely recognized consultants for tax matters in higher education and represented eight of the institutions that were selected for audit in the initial audit population following the questionnaire process."

Because of the continued focus on higher education, it is not surprising that an institution the size of Ohio University would be selected for an audit, she said.