On campus

State audit reveals Tech’s failure to report to IRS as TTU employees received free housing

On August 24 the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury published its findings of a recent audit on the Tech Office of University Housing and Residential Life.  

The report stated that between July 31, 2021 and November 1, 2022 “at least 10 TTU employees and six family members of employees lived in on-campus housing.” These accommodations were estimated to cost the university $34,987.89.  

The investigative report stated, “The office failed to charge employees for their on-campus housing accommodations as required by the 2019-2020 Residential Life Administrative Handbook and did not document or retain any records relating to the on-campus house accommodations provided to employees.” 

As first reported by the Herald Citizen, the former executive director lived in campus housing from January 1, 2022, through August 4, 2022, and resigned from his position on January 3, 2023. 

The report also stated, “The office also failed to document its procedure for ensuring that students seeking on-campus housing were not displaced by TTU employees and their families receiving on-campus housing accommodations.” 

A spokesperson for the university said, “Tech has received the comptroller’s report and is already taking corrective action.” 

One staff member was permitted to stay a total of 215 days in the Tech Village apartments along with his wife and three children. The staff member was given a studio apartment and a two-bedroom apartment in order to not violate occupancy limits.  

They reported to Tech that they were living in the studio apartment with their oldest child and their spouse was living in a separate two-bedroom with their two younger children. It was revealed in the investigation that the studio apartment had been used for storage and the family of five lived in the two-bedroom apartment that had a maximum occupancy limit of three people.  

The report stated, “TTU officials did not report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fringe benefits (monetary value of free housing and utilities) provided to employees…While the IRS allows exemptions to reporting housing as a portion of gross income for employees required to accept lodging on campus as a condition of employment, none of the TTU employees offered on-campus housing accommodations met the requirements for exemption.” 

According to the 2019-2020 Residential Life Administrative Handbook, Tech has a furnished guest apartment for rent in Jobe Hall that staff can rent while in the process of relocating. The report stated, “The current rates [for the 2019-2020 academic year] are as follows: $39.00 per night, $200.00 per week or $725.00 per month.” 

Instead of following the protocol put in place, “TTU office officials provided employees and employees’ family members with larger, more expensive apartments and did not request payment for rent or utilities.”