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Tax Audit on Utility Bills; Tax-Exempt Campus

A prominent liberal art college with campuses in multiple states discovered that the school had been eligible for tax-exempt status since 2012.

THE PROBLEM

The institution’s leadership had no mechanism in place to easily audit the taxes it had paid on utility bills. Its finance officials wanted to begin the process of getting a refund from its energy provider and identify new ways to reduce expenses without disrupting operations.

THE SOLUTION

The college turned to ProKarma Energy Management Solutions (EMS), which has extensive experience in expense management and tax auditing, to conduct a historical utility and expense audit. ProKarma began by collecting the institution’s master data. The assessment generated a complete account, bill and site inventory that captured all relevant utility bill information, including time entries, expense and disbursement. The EMS team reviewed the numbers carefully, researching rate structures and comparing contract rates with billed rates. The team also conducted a pattern analysis of consumption trends and meter surges to find anomalies.

A key aspect of the engagement focused on the historical review of utility spend. ProKarma worked with the college to identify billing inaccuracies, such as overcharges, invalid or unauthorized charges and overages. The ProKarma team updated the master data, capturing each line item accurately and identifying saving opportunities along the way.

ProKarma then initiated the tax refund process by generating an exemption certificate and presenting it to the vendor, who agreed to give the institution a refund of up to $290,000 in the form of credit on future bills. The savings, combined with the findings from ProKarma’s analysis of bills and expenses, helped the institution better manage its energy and sustainability goals moving forward.

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