No one likes to be audited. So, when a sales tax notice of audit arrives in the mail it should be no surprise that the news isn’t usually met with exaltations of joy. Most professionals are already busy enough at their jobs without having to spend time gathering documentation from years past, not to mention defending policy decisions that now may be just a vague memory.
The frustration caused by audits tends to fester over time and oftentimes the target the frustration is released on is the auditor themselves. Unfortunately, taking frustrations out on an auditor may just lead to the audit becoming that much more frustrating.
It’s important to remember that auditors are just people too. They’re subject to the same emotions as the rest of humanity and those emotions include compassion and anger. I’ve heard many stories through the years of auditors being treated poorly in a misguided attempt to “scare them away.” Stories range from giving the auditor a workspace in a dreary basement to shutting the vents so that the air conditioning doesn’t run in the auditor’s office. Unfortunately, these types of approaches tend to be more counterproductive than effective.
Instead of starting an adversarial relationship with the auditor in your next audit, try to make them as comfortable as possible. Communicating openly with the auditor is essential and oftentimes leads to a more positive outcome than you might have expected. Willingly communicating with an auditor about your operations may lead to an auditor giving you additional credit for taxes that you’ve overpaid, while treating an auditor standoffishly may leave an auditor with the impression that you’ve got something to hide.
In the end, it’s important to remember that the objective of most auditors really isn’t to make your life miserable. Treat them with kindness and respect and they’re likely to return the favor.