Dealing with an auditor's on-farm visit
Farmers are now being targeted by Revenue auditors. An audit is a stressful time for any business, but it is 10 times worse if you don't know what you are in for.
Last week we looked at what you need to do to prepare yourself if you are to be subjected to an audit. This week, we look at what happens when the auditor finally arrives on your farm.
You've two ways to approach the visit. You can openly show your resentment at being audited and play hardball. In short, you can try as much as you like to make life difficult for them.
The alternative is to roll over and accommodate the auditor. This may not do much for your ego, but you won't win by taking the other route. In fact, if you push it too far you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law, as obstructing a Revenue auditor is a criminal offence. The auditor will stay on the job until they are satisfied they have all the information needed. Making life difficult will only prolong the pain for both of you.
Revenue auditors are aware that audits are often a burden on businesses, but in the many years of dealing with the individuals involved I have yet to meet one who was discourteous or unprofessional.
So if the auditor asks to be shown the farm after your first introduction, try not to bristle. This is a normal request to help them get a feel for what to expect when the records are examined.
After this, the auditor will work their way through the records provided. This will include the auditor verifying the information available against the records you provide. If everything hangs together there is, of course, no problem.
The issues start if something is missing. Apart from looking for an explanation as to why an item is missing, the auditor will often begin to wonder what else could be missing. Often this leads them to investigate further. This might include a more vigorous examination of the records available, confirmation relating to all bank accounts in your local branch, or, worse still, opening other years to the audit.