The Alabama Retail Association and other groups have received hundreds of complaints from business owners concerning abuse by unregulated, for-profit auditing firms. We have shared those stories with legislators, but hearing directly from business owners resonates the most.
Our team has helped draw attention to the issue of for-profit audit abuse by sharing the experiences of two business owners. The most recent is Woody Baird of The Sure Shot in Alexander City who faced a $12,487 assessment only to see it reduced to zero after four months of providing documentation to the for-profit, contract auditor his city hired. Even though he didn’t owe anything in the end, he had to pay his accountant for 4 months of work and lost valuable time to run and grow his small business.
“They come in and tell people, ‘You owe this money.’ But they don’t. And a lot of people just write them a check to get them off their back. They’re just stealing their money,” said Baird.
Charlie Ferguson, owner of Alabama Bolt and Supply, shared with us how a for-profit contract firm subjected his business to an audit that dragged on for two years. Auditors assessed him $95,000 in local sales and use taxes. At that point, Ferguson had to hire a lawyer. After two more years and $45,000 in attorney costs, the final assessment was $136.
“It is just not right,” said Ferguson. “How many people is it happening to, and how much is it actually hurting small business?”
Did you have a similar experience with a for-profit audit firm? Tell us your your story below or request a call from an ARA staff member. All information you give us will be kept confidential.
Retailers can join together to end this abuse.