If you are thinking about hiring a consultant to assist you with your sales and use tax audit, you should follow these steps to ensure that you make the best choice for your specific circumstances. By following these four steps, you will gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision.
Step #1: Make a commitment to yourself to learn what you need to know to be 100% compliant going forward to audit-proof your business – many tax consultants are “paper pushers”. They will forward you emails from the auditor, you will get what the auditor wants, and the consultant will send it to the auditor. You need a consultant who will not only work with the auditor but will also educate you about the process, educate you about your industry and your business specifically and help you put compliance measures in place. You need a consultant who will be there for you after the audit to answer your questions.
Step #2: List your objectives – Do you want to have an experienced, professional tax consultant assist you through the audit or do you want to try to handle it yourself to possibly wake up one day with an audit assessment that you don’t agree with, can’t afford and don’t understand? Do you want to work with an honest, reputable firm or are you willing to risk working with a firm that offers you the lowest price?
Step #3: Ask questions – The way to learn about a consulting firm is to ask specific questions and then listen carefully to the answers. Ask them specific questions about your industry, your business, your concerns. Reference our user guide and ask them about good faith, ask them about the statute, ask them about documents they need to provide. Do they answer your questions or do they say something like “if I told you that I’d have to kill you”? Because there is a firm that actually says that to prospective clients! Ask them if they provide a written guarantee and can they provide you with references?
Step #4: Ask for a written quote – Once you are satisfied that you are working with an honest, experienced professional, ask for a written quote. A written quote gives you the assurance that you know exactly what your audit will cost – with no surprises. Make sure to double check the quote for “gotchas”. Do they get paid even if you do the work? Do they get paid even if you’re the one who finds a refund in your taxes? Do they have a written satisfaction guarantee?