An auditor's (or contracted examiner’s) main task is to determine if businesses have properly collected, reported and paid state taxes. They strive to identify both under- and overpaid tax, as taxpayers at times pay taxes on items that may be exempt.
The division’s goal is to conduct these audits as efficiently as possible with the least inconvenience to taxpayers. Although an audit is a tool to ensure tax compliance, it can also be educational. During an audit, auditors can help businesses identify and correct bookkeeping problems to avoid additional tax liabilities in the future.
Audits are conducted to:
Methods vary for selecting a business or individual to audit. Here are some examples of how potential audit candidates are identified:
Taxpayers must keep all records for a minimum of four years. The Comptroller’s office may audit for periods longer than four years if a business was not permitted but should have been or if fraud has been detected.
By law, information as to who is being audited by the Comptroller is public information and therefore subject to open records requests. Therefore, taxpayers may be solicited by attorneys or consultants regarding this information. Professional representation is not required of taxpayers in dealing with an audit from the Comptroller’s Office. It is solely a business decision made at taxpayers’ discretion.
The auditing process is divided into these sets of actions:
Auditors by law may examine a taxpayer’s books and records to determine the accuracy of taxes paid.
Taxpayers must furnish all necessary records requested including, but not limited to, the following documents:
During fieldwork, the auditor informs the taxpayer of the work being conducted. Transactions are examined either in their entirety or by sampling. If a sample is performed, the auditor notifies the taxpayer and explains how errors are projected.
Upon completion of fieldwork, the auditor gives the taxpayer schedules identifying potential over- and/or underpaid tax. The taxpayer is allotted a reasonable amount of time to obtain more information to dispute any proposed scheduled adjustments.
Audits are to be completed and refunds issued (if any) in a timely manner.
Additional information can be found in the Notice of Routine Audit (PDF) brochure.
After all documentation has been provided, the auditor informs the taxpayer of any tax assessments along with penalty waiver recommendations and interest to be assessed.
The taxpayer may request a reconciliation conference and/or an independent audit review conference to discuss any disagreements.
If taxpayers do not agree with an audit's findings, they have recourse available through a formal hearings process. Information about this process is explained in Contesting Disagreed Audits, Examinations, and Refund Denials (PDF).