State Sales Tax & Use Tax Audits and Examination – why you need a tax professional on your side
Mike Habib, EA
Among the most frightening words a business owner can hear are the words: sales tax audit. There are many reasons why this is a phrase that should be feared, not the least of which is that the negative outcome of a sales tax audit may cost you your business, your accounts receivable, your current business & personal assets, and can leave you starting over with nothing. There are options available to you though, keep reading to learn how you can survive this trying time.
Begin with the best possible defense – an exemplary system of record keeping when it comes to sales tax paid, received, and possible exemptions. Document everything and review your documents with an internal sales tax audit yearly. This gives you a great opportunity to catch mistakes that may have been made and correct them before an actual audit takes place. You will also want to review your documentation immediately prior to your audit.
When faced with a sales tax audit, or a use tax audit, you need to go to the tax resolution experts. Chances are that you either have a bookkeeper on staff or you use an outside bookkeeping firm in order to file sales and tax state reports. You may consider the valuable services of our firm for assistance with the your sales tax audit as well as dealing with the potential outcome and any consequences that may apply.
Many businesses find that the sting of owed sales tax is not nearly as lethal as the time and attention that must be dedicated to the process of a sales tax audit. This takes hours of work finding the documentation, defending the receipts for tax-exempt items, and time is money in the business world. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil. The penalty for not complying with the taxing authorities in this matter are simply too devastating to consider.
When experiencing a sales tax audit you need to provide the auditor with a nice quiet place in which to work, all the documentation he or she needs and/or requests, and a basic overview of how your business operates. Be prepared to provide follow up documentation if necessary and to defend certain transactions along the way. The purpose of the sales tax audit in all honesty is to generate more money for the state so cooperate but don’t roll over.
Our firm is well-qualified and can assist you from the very beginning of your sales tax audit by speaking the language of your sales tax auditor. Many auditors are much more approachable when dealing with a licensed tax representative rather than dealing with individual taxpayers and business owners. Let our firm work for you and the tax savings are likely to pay for the service and so much more.
Having a tax expert on your team such as Mike Habib, EA often helps when enduring a sales tax audit. He knows the tax code and will be able to identify potential pitfalls prior to the audit in addition to being able to help you defend certain transactions that may fall within gray areas of the tax code or negotiate with your auditor if necessary. The most important thing you can do to prepare for a sales tax audit however is to avoid panic and let the tax experts do their job while you try going about your own as seamlessly as possible while waiting on the verdict.
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