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Sales Tax Audit - Basic Information

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Surviving a few sales tax audits, I can say that initially, the scariest part was the unknown.  Why are they auditing me, did I do something wrong or what have I missed? Unless you have intentionally avoided paying taxes or falsified information to keep from paying state sales taxes, the worst that can happen is the interruption of cash flow when they find items that you should have paid taxes on and did not.  However, with that can also come penalties and interest; therefore you don’t want to exacerbate the issues by not supporting the process to the best of your ability. Most tax audits are looking for two things: taxable sales that were not properly taxed and taxable purchases that were not taxed (watch out for those internet purchases).  The auditor’s job is to make sure that tax laws are being followed and by doing so they intend to:

  • Collect revenue for the state.
  • Make sure businesses within the state are collecting sales tax and in the right amounts.
  • Generate future revenue for the state as businesses becomes compliant.
  • Find out-of-state businesses that may potentially have nexus in-state.
  • Reviewing transactions that are occurring in the marketplace in order to make new tax laws.

I would encourage you to see your first audit as a learning experience and remain compliant going forward.  You don’t want to have a second audit to find the same errors.  That certainly wouldn’t justify or guarantee minimal penalties going forward.

What are the rules of thumb during an audit?  First, you must understand that the auditor is not a consultant that will help you find ways to minimize the taxes you pay.  They work for the Department of Revenue, and they are trained to collect revenue for the state.  They look to identify the mistakes (in their opinion) that you make.   

Have respect for what the auditor is tasked to do and treat him/her accordingly.  Provide the required information in an organized manner that will allow them to complete their work as quickly as possible.  Afford them a quiet and reasonable place to perform the audit.

If you keep your ducks in a row, you are always preparing for a tax audit by periodically reviewing sales tax procedures and policies.  If you haven’t don’t panic, below are a few tips:

  • If you need more time to prepare, ask for it.
  • Make sure they understand how your business operates. For instance the types of services you provide, how your invoicing works, how your exemptions certificates are filed if applicable, and answer other basic question they may have for you.
  • It is crucial that you understand what they are asking for, and don’t give more than information than they are asking for as anything you give them is fair game. 
  • Have all the information ready and organized when the auditor arrives.
  • Let them know you are available if they have questions.  If you leave, let them know you are leaving and when you will be back. Don’t abandon them and don’t stand over them either.
  • In the event the auditor strikes up a conversation with other employees, advise the employees to direct the auditor’s questions to you.
  • Don’t sign any documents without fully understanding what you are signing.

Lastly, if you need to rebuttal a decision, make sure your information is cogent.  For more information on your states audit process, check with your state's Department of Revenue. Here is a link that may be helpful:

What tips do you have for surviving an audit? Share them in the comment box below.


Brooke Simcik, CDFA, is the Business Manager for VAI Architects Incorporated in Dallas, TX

She serves as the 2017-2018 SDA National Vice President.

Tags:  Sales Tax Audit Tips  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Welcome Our Newst SDA Members - October 2017

Posted By Administration, Sunday, October 22, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members for October 2017:

First Name Last Name Chapter
Diane Baker Minneapolis/St. Paul
Becky Brandt Portland
Teressa Deleon San Diego
Rachael Kresbach Seattle
Marilyn Maldonado San Antonio
Amanda Murphy Hampton Roads
Julie Tellez Member-at-Large
Jane Williams Northern California

Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!

Tags:  New Members  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Welcome 

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Members on the Move - Mariah Railsback, Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mariah Railsback of the Minneapolis/St. Paul SDA Chapter has a new role, recently moving from Kodet Architectural Group, LLC. to Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

Mariah began in the Architecture world when she joined Kodet Architectural Group in 2015 as the Office Manager/Administrative Assistant.  When the company participated in the 2015 Canstruction Minneapolis event, she was introduced to SDA.  From there she joined SDA in order to grow her skill set and knowledge as an Administrative Assistant. In late 2016, she joined the SDA Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter’s Membership Committee. 

In her new position at Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc., she holds the role of Administrative Assistant and supports the company’s Grow Group which works on Education, Worship, & Non-profit projects.  She hopes to grow her own skills and abilities at this new position and push herself to achieve higher goals. Congratulations Mariah on your new endeavor!


Know a member on the move? Email the details to SDA Headquarters.  We love to celebrate new positions and career advancements!

Tags:  Members on the Move  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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SDA Welcomes Our Newest Members

Posted By Administration, Sunday, September 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2017

Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members:

First Name Last Name Chapter
Linda Almeida Orlando
Cathey Camacho Atlanta
Elke Escher Orange County
Candace Hough Orange County
Laurie Kahn Dallas
Michelle Penrice Orange County
Michael Rabinowitz New York
Lyn San Pedro New York
Alison Smith New York
Elly Smith Orange County
Megan Temchin Dallas


Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!

Tags:  New Members  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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How We Work-Office Management

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 7, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2017

The New York SDA Chapter held a lunchtime Round Table in July titled "How We Work - Office Management”. This was the first in a series of round tables on the types of roles our members hold in their firms.  After the event, I put together some thoughts to summarize our discussions. It is obvious that all of us, whether in a large or small firm, face similar changes in office management! Here are a few of takeaways:

  • Be firm! No process will ever be perfect. Let's face it. However, protocol is what sets the rules, keeps the order and avoids even more chaos.
  • Be in the know! - Know your 'client'. What are their needs? Current and anticipated? What can you do to meet those needs? Do you have the right processes in place?
  • Evaluate! Evaluate! Evaluate! - Continue to reevaluate your processes and protocol. Even the slightest change in the amount of staff, office space, IT configuration, can make a huge difference for the better or the worse. Always ask yourself: does what I have in place in now work? How can the process be improved?
  • Teamwork! - You can't do this on your own. And this is a good thing. Involve your team as well as other departments like Office Services, Administration, IT, and especially management. You need their backing no matter what you want to put in place.

I'm sure there are many more, so please share in the comment box below some of your office management takeaways.  


Ellie Tsakonas, CDFA, A.M.ASCE, currently serves as President of the NY SDA Chapter,

and is the International Operations Manager / Administrative Supervisor at LANGAN, in NY

Tags:  Office Management  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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