Small Business Taxes & ManagementTM--Copyright 2011, A/N Group, Inc.
The IRS has issued Publication 3114, Compliance Checks. A compliance check is a contact with the taxpayer that involves a review of filed information and tax returns of the entity. It is a verification of recordkeeping and tax return and information return filing. Books and records are not inspected. It's an alternative to an examination. It is less burdensome and can generally be accomplished in one or two contacts with the taxpayer. It serves as an opportunity to educate the taxpayer and encourage compliance with regard to employment tax law and filing requirements.
Q. What is a compliance check?
A. A compliance check is a review conducted by IRS, to determine whether a business owner (or individual) is adhering to recordkeeping and information reporting requirements. It is neither an inspection, under Section 7605(b) of the Code, nor an audit, under Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978.
A compliance check does not directly relate to determining a tax liability for any particular period. The check is a tool to help educate business owners about their reporting requirements to help increase voluntary compliance. At the beginning of a compliance check, the IRS representative will inform the business owner that the review is a compliance check and not an audit or examination.
If not, and the business owner acknowledges they should have, the IRS may ask the owner to file them voluntarily. If the business owner does not voluntarily file the forms, the IRS may prepare substitute returns under Internal Revenue Code Section 6020(b) or initiate an examination.
Q. Is there a penalty for refusing to submit to a compliance check?
A. No. A business owner (or individual) may refuse to participate in a compliance check without penalty. The IRS has the option of opening a formal investigation, whether or not the business owner agrees to participate in a compliance check.
Q. How often can one be subjected to compliance checks?
A. IRS can make compliance checks as often as facts and circumstances warrant. Because compliance checks are not examinations, the limitations on reopening examinations provided by Section 7605(b) do not apply to compliance checks.
Q. Once a business owner has been checked for compliance, does he/she have safe haven protection under section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978? A. No. Since compliance checks are not audits, the business owner does not hold safe haven protection under section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978.
Additionally, a business owner may not rely on an audit started after December 31, 1996, for safe haven protection, unless the audit included an examination of whether the individual involved, or any individual holding a similar position as the person involved, should be treated as an employee of the taxpayer for employment tax purposes.
Audit or Examination?
Q. What is an audit? What is an examination?
A. An examination is an inspection of an individual's or an entity's books and records. In addition, an examination involves the questioning of witnesses to determine the individual's or entity's correct tax liability. Another term for an examination is an audit.
Q. What is a compliance review?
A. A compliance review is a review conducted by IRS to ensure that a taxpayer who is participating in a voluntary agreement is satisfying the commitments contained within the agreement. During the review, the IRS may need to inspect relevant records and ask specific questions to determine the voluntary compliance of the taxpayer.
The IRS offers voluntary agreements that contain differing obligations for both parties. Voluntary agreements are generally administered by the Business Operating Division that secures them.
Examples of voluntary agreements include:
Copyright 2011 by A/N Group, Inc. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The information is not necessarily a complete summary of all materials on the subject. Copyright is not claimed on material from U.S. Government sources.--ISSN 1089-1536
--Last Update 04/27/11