REVENUE AUDIT – HOW TO PREPARE
A Revenue Audit can be a daunting experience for a lot of companies, businesses and other taxpayers. However, this stress and anxiety can be reduced considerably by some preparation before the event.
What is a Revenue Audit?
A Revenue Audit is a crosscheck or review by Revenue of the Tax Returns that have been submitted by the business or taxpayer, against the business records or back up documentation. Revenue check to make sure the Tax Return are accurate and that there are no omissions.
Revenue can normally review any period within the previous four years, but they are entitled to go back further. It is important that every taxpayer and business retain his or her books and records for a minimum of six years.
A Revenue Audit can arise for several reasons. Revenue do screen Tax Returns and analyse them in terms of patterns in that particular business. Their computer systems can therefore throw up anomalies / irregularities that Revenue then decide to examine. Revenue also do projects on certain sectors of industry – in the past, they have concentrated on the construction industry, locums, the motor trade and jewellers. This mass review of a certain industry allows them to compare and contract businesses and can help Revenue improve their knowledge on a particular sector. Lastly, a Revenue Audit can arise randomly, but this represents a very small proportion of Revenue Audits.
Revenue must announce their intention to commence a Revenue Audit by issuing a formal letter to the taxpayer. This normally gives 21 days’ notice of the Audit to allow the taxpayer to pull the books and records together. The letter must also state the taxheads and years that Revenue will be reviewing, and the date and the time of the Revenue Audit.
On receipt of this Revenue Audit letter, it is important that the preparation for this begin immediately in the following ways:
- Meet with your accountants / tax advisers
Your accountants will probably also have received a Revenue Audit letter and a preliminary discussion or meeting with your accountant will help you to understand the Revenue Audit process and ease any anxieties you may have. Your accountant will also be able to guide you in relation to the information that needs collating, both for the Revenue Audit and to allow your accountants to perform a pre-Revenue Audit review. It is also important at this stage to consider whether a request should be made to change the date and venue of the Revenue Audit, as requests of this nature should be made as soon as possible after receipt of the Revenue Audit letter.
- Identify any concerns / problem areas and discuss these with the experts
It is important that you discuss any issues that you have concerns about in respect of your taxes or the operation of procedures with your accountant. For example, if you are anxious about some expenses that cannot be vouched, if you have made payments to workers who were not included on the payroll, or if you had another source of income, however small, that was not included on your Tax Return. Your accountant has experience in these matters and will be able to guide you in the best ways to prepare for the Revenue Audit with these issues in mind, how and when to discuss these issues with Revenue, and whether a Voluntary Disclosure should be offered.
- Review all Returns / Linking Documents / e-documentation for all taxheads included in the Revenue Audit, or allow your accountant to do so.
Even the most careful and compliant taxpayer can make an unintentional error or omission in their Tax Returns. A full review of the Tax Returns for the periods stated to come within the Revenue Audit can throw up any errors, omissions or issues. Your accountant can then prepare for the best way to raise these with Revenue and can prepare a Voluntary Disclosure if this is appropriate.
- Prepare a Voluntary Disclosure (if required).
If there are any issues, omissions or errors resulting in an underpayment of taxes, your accountant can prepare a Qualifying Voluntary Disclosure in the correct format that Revenue require. Your accountant will identify the taxheads concerned, the periods to which the underpayments relate, the interest arising on the underpayments and any penalties. This preparation of the Voluntary Disclosure can reduce penalties and remove the threat of publication or prosecution but it is vital that the document is prepared in accordance with Revenue’s requirements and presented to Revenue at the commencement of the Revenue Audit.