Keeping track of income at Miami is "taxing" work for Tracy Troxel

Tracy Troxel

Tax time is all year for Tracy Troxel

By Kristal Humphrey, university news and communications

For most of us “tax time” is in the spring, but for Tracy Troxel, Miami’s tax and compliance analyst, there is more than one “tax time” each year. Since the university is tax-exempt, most people think there are no returns to file, but Troxel explains why that’s not correct.

Q: How long have you been at Miami?

A: I started as a student at Miami in 1991, but didn’t finish. After getting married in 1999, I went back to Miami and received my degree in accountancy in 2001. I worked in public accounting 12 years before starting at Miami in April 2014.

Q: What do you do in your job?

A: I file tax returns for the university. Even though the university is tax-exempt, there are still taxes that have to be paid. 

We have to report contributions and money made from activities on campus. We have to file to stay in compliance for being a 501(C)(3), noncharitable organization.

I file tax reports quarterly for payroll, monthly for sales tax because we collect it, and annually for the Miami University Foundation because the investments make money. I’m also in charge of the financial statements for Miami’s Paper Science and Engineering Foundation.

Because of the city’s hotel occupancy tax, I have to file a return for the Marcum Inn and Conference Center.

I also file a return for the university because of the unrelated business income tax (UBIT), a tax imposed on the unrelated business income generated by tax-exempt organizations.

If we generate revenue from activities that don’t fit into the mission of the university — education — we are subject to tax on that income.

Q: What are some examples of those activities?

A: Summer camps, day camps, weddings on campus and some activities at Goggin and the rec center.

Departments sometimes don't realize that what they are doing generates income, and I have to keep trying to find out about those events and activities. One example was the opening of Chestnut Fields. When it was opened to the community that brought in income that is not related to education.

One of her wreaths.

Tracy Troxel makes wreaths and other items using quilters yo-yos.

Q: How do you find out about these activities?

A: Some people in departments know to contact me. I also see flyers or promotions about events. Sometimes student organizations do things that generate income and the person in general accounting who works with them will let me know. I also use the stories in Miami Wire and Miami Matters as a resource for finding out what things are happening on campus.

I’m always watching for departments that generate income.

An example is in the Ecology Research Center. It has land that is farmed to test crops, and they sell the crops at the end of season. The money from that is income even though it’s used to buy seeds and other things for the next year. It’s OK for the center to do that, but I still have to track it. Now they know to contact me in the future if they have more special projects.

Q: What do you like about your job?

A: It’s not the same every day. I get questions all the time about how to deal with different issues. For example, when faculty and staff travel, we should be tax-exempt on hotel charges. If the university gets charged tax, I have to find out why and if we should have been charged. Cities, hotels and states have different requirements.

Also, as I said earlier, it keeps me busy watching for income that’s generated.

Q: What is the most challenging part?

A: Keeping up with the IRS and tax requirements to stay in compliance. To do so, I subscribe to the NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers) website, follow other resources and network with people at other universities.

Q: Spring is tax time for most of us. What is the timing for you?

A: The end of Miami’s fiscal year is June 30, so in November the federal returns are due. In January, I have to reconcile W-2s, do annual payroll taxes and file the summary of the year.

The Paper Science and Engineering Foundation’s end of year has been Dec. 31, so its audit has been in February. After this year, it will go by the fiscal year, so it will match the Miami University Foundation.

Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?

A: I do craft shows with my mom. I make quilters yo-yos and use them to make wreaths, cats, elves and snowmen. I also make cross-stitch ornaments and am learning to crochet.

My 8-year-old daughter has started to go to craft shows with us, so now we have three generations there.