04 Mar Audit Division
The Bedrock of Tax Management Associates, Inc. | by Chip Cooke
During times of uncertainty and doubt, it is not uncommon to take glimpses into the past looking at the most certain things in your life. A global pandemic tends to provide the impetus for just that. As I look back on TMA’s accomplishments over the last 40 years, I can’t help but to be drawn to the bedrock of our business since 1987, TMA’s Audit Division.
As with most innovations at TMA, the Audit Division started as an idea from a client with a problem. A local North Carolina Assessor had approached TMA’s owner with a question. He stated simply, “I know what you can do with CAMA, mass appraisal projects, and motor vehicle valuation, but have you ever considered Business Personal Property?”
As you, the reader, already know, the Business Personal Property Tax is an integral part of most local governments’ property tax base. It usually makes up 10 to 20 percent of the local revenue stream and funds all levels of the local government structure. It is also a self-assessed tax, meaning the taxpayer provides a self-reported declaration and then receives a bill from the jurisdiction upon completion. Our client then had a question, “How do I know that the declaration is correct?”
The management at TMA did what all good companies do, and started to explore a solution to the client’s issue by hiring experts in the field with the skill sets to solve that problem. At the time those two individuals were the late Roger Ellis from the North Carolina Department of Revenue and Tom Tucker, then a Deputy Tax Administrator from Mecklenburg County and today, TMA’s Chief Operations Officer. All of this occurred in October of 1987 and today, the Audit Division accounts for over 92% of TMA’s total revenues. This effort has spanned over 550 clients in 23 states and continues to grow on a yearly basis.
You could rightly say that Audit is in our collective DNA now. By definition, an Audit is “An official inspection of an individual’s or organization’s accounts, typically by an independent body. A systematic review or assessment of something”. For 33 years, we have honed that skill and taught it to those who came after. Today, it means that we get to live with the motto we created “Quality by Design”, and strive to assist at the highest level within the equity and uniformity of the state and local tax systems. Business Personal Property Audits, Homestead Exemption Audits, Gross Receipts, Hotel and Motel taxes – virtually every source of funding for government can be bettered by partnering with a company that has an entire career’s experience in one division.
Yes, it’s going to make me feel slightly old, but I was extremely curious about looking back at the beginning of the Audit Division and all that 1987 had to offer.
Yours truly was a sophomore in high school and starting to look at colleges. President Reagan had just given his historic speech in West Berlin in which he implored to then Premier Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”, an event that would happen three years later. A gallon of gas was averaging 89 cents, and the U.S. national median home price was $44,000. 1987 saw the very first episode of The Simpsons and the stock market crash on October’s Black Monday, sending shares down 20% across the entire length of the exchange. I hesitate to mention fashion, but vaguely remember acid-washed jeans and a crewneck sweater – don’t judge me.
Since that year, now over 33 years ago, the Audit Division has made some amazing advances. I remember writing an article many years ago that touted the accomplishment of 100,000 audits completed across the country. I think I completed the article by saying “Who knows where we will be when we hit 200,000?”. As of this morning, we have completed over 265,000 audits with proceeds of over 60.3 billion dollars returning to state and local government budgets. Those increases lead to better schools, more equipment for first responders, and all manners of improvement throughout local government.
I’ll apologize in advance, I love to brag on our managers, professionals, and clients. We believe in what we do and feel that every day our best effort is given in our endeavors. Of course, as of this publication, with many of us still exclusively virtual, I hope you will take the time to explore our website, and contemplate whether TMA is a good option for you.
In the meantime, stay safe and remember that for over 40 years we have been there for your organization, your people, and your mission. As always, thank you for your business and God Bless you.