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|IRS, ULM at odds over payroll taxes|
The Internal Revenue Service filed a $347,989 lien against the University of Louisiana-Monroe over a dispute concerning payroll taxes.
The lien was filed in 4th Judicial District Court earlier this month.
University officials say the IRS filed the lien because of some unknown problem in filing payroll taxes.
IRS officials declined to comment on the matter, citing the agency's disclosure policy.
David Nicklas, ULM's vice president of business affairs, said, "We're not absolutely sure what's causing the problem."
He said the university compiles its quarterly statements of federal tax withholdings electronically and files them online.
"What we do know is we've compiled those reports timely," Nicklas said. "We've entered in the information timely, and we've made the payments timely, but the IRS is crediting these payments in the wrong quarter."
"We've been timely, we've remitted and we've made our deposits," Nicklas continued. "However, we're finding out that as the IRS is going through compiling and reconciling payments on their end … and we can't answer why they're applying it in the wrong quarter … but because of this, it ends up showing deficiencies in one quarter and overpayments in another."
For example, the third quarter of the year ends Sept. 30. The proper paperwork and taxes that are filed and paid online for the third quarter are due Oct. 7.
"We'll enter it early, which shouldn't be a problem," Nicklas explained. "We'll enter it two days early, but instead of putting it in the third quarter, because we filed it two days early, they put it in the second quarter. So we show overpayment in the second quarter and underpayment in the third quarter."
ULM controller Diane Singletary has statements showing the IRS draws the deposits for a specific quarter correctly, but it does not apply those deposits to the appropriate quarter.
"We don't know why," she said. "That's the piece we're still trying to find out. We're working with the IRS on this."
Nicklas said whenever the IRS has reviewed the university's documents, there have been no penalties assessed, and no interest assessed.
"We just have to get these in the right quarter," Singletary said. "Why they got in the wrong quarter, they couldn't explain, and we still haven't gotten that explained to us. I don't know if it's software (issues) on their end … they just can't explain it to us. But we feel very comfortable that we're doing things timely and the way we're supposed to."
Singletary contacted the university's bank representatives who said that as soon as ULM's funds are available, the bank notifies the IRS to withdraw the money.
"It looks like they are drawing it when they are supposed to, but why it's going in different quarters, we don't know," Singletary said. "The way their system works - it's an automated system - it will go through the calculations and say a person is short and delinquent, so it automatically puts a lien on them. But they're not seeing that there is an overage in other quarters."
Nicklas added, "The good news is it appears they have cleared it up for the remainder of '06, for all of calendar '07, and of course, we're in the third quarter of '08 now."
"That's why we think it could be some kind of software change since we are not having current problems," Singletary said.
"For the last six quarters, there have been no issues," Nicklas said.