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Letter from Florida Department of Revenue: Sales Tax


Most of our cases start with a taxpayer receiving a letter in the mail from the Florida Department of Revenue. With that said, not all letters from the Department of Revenue mean that an audit has begun. While the Department can send a variety of letters to taxpayers, all of them should be carefully and timely reviewed. Often, there are strict deadlines by which certain letters can be responded to. Moreover, when it comes to tax amounts due, the interest clock is always ticking. Therefore, it is vital for taxpayers to evaluate the contents of a letter from the Florida Department of Revenue immediately upon receipt.

Is Your Letter a Sales Tax Audit?

Occasionally, I will receive a call from a nervous taxpayer who tells me they received a letter from the Florida Department of Revenue, and they are concerned that is relates to an audit. If they have not yet sent me a copy of the letter to review, my first response is to ask for them to read me the top of the letter. The reason I do this is because an audit notice can be identified on the first page of a letter in two ways.

First, when the Department of Revenue is pursuing an audit of your business, they will send a “Notice of Intent to Audit Books and Records.” If the first letter you receive looks like a letter, meaning it has a letter head and signature at the bottom, then this terminology will be found in the subject line. Often the subject line will provide further clarify with the additional words: “Sales and Use Tax Audit” with an audit number following.

However, Taxpayers will occasionally not receive this first letter and instead receive a letter that looks more like a standardized form. This document is titled “Notice of Intent to Audit Books and Records” in bold at the front and in the right-hand corner there will be “DR-840.” Regardless of whether you have received one, the other, or both, it is important to pay close attention to the date on top. The date of these letters signifies the start date of your audit, and it has various statute of limitations implications down the line.

Along with the introductory letter and DR-840, Taxpayers will also receive other letters from the Department at the commencement of an audit. These letters include:

1. Florida Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

2. What to Expect from a Florida Tax Audit?

3. Auditing in an Electronic Environment (e-Auditing)

4. Sampling and Your Audit

5. Requesting Advice During an Audit

6. Voluntary Disclosure Program

These various letters provide information that can be helpful during an audit. However, they do not necessarily provide the full picture. It is important to consult with a professional as to the extent of your rights and responsibilities during an audit. For example, while the Florida Department of Revenue may send information relating to its Voluntary Disclosure Program to taxpayers under audit, taxpayers do not qualify for the program once the audit begins. Therefore, this letter can be confusing when received at the start of the audit and result in taxpayers disclosing information to an auditor which will only hurt them down the line.

Letters After a Sales Tax Audit

During the audit, there is great pressure on taxpayers to provide documentation in a timely manner and respond quickly to Department communications. After all, the Department of Revenue auditor only has one year from the date of the DR-840 to issue an assessment. However, at the conclusion of an audit, when an assessment is issued, the Department will suddenly cease putting time pressure on taxpayers. However, just because the auditor or other Department of Revenue employee has ceased putting timelines on a case does not mean that no timelines exist.

At the conclusion of an audit, the Department of Revenue will issue a Notice of Proposed Assessment. From their perspective, this is a bill you need to pay promptly. However, if you disagree with the findings, you only have 60 days from the date of the letter to file an informal protest. If you do not file a protest within the 60-day period, your assessment becomes final! Therefore, the deadline is absolutely critical on this letter from the Department.

Similarly, after filing a protest, the Department will send another letter known as a Notice of Decision, or Notice of Reconsideration, both of which have deadlines as well. As it is the taxpayer at this point who is moving the case forward, responsibility for these deadlines falls exclusively on the taxpayer. Do not wait for the Department to warn you that your protest is due in a few weeks! They will not do that.

Of critical importance is the date and deadline for response on letters issued after the conclusion of an audit. However, occasionally one gets lost in the mail. Taxpayers sometimes assume that if a letter is lost in the mail, that the Department will just issue a new one when the error is discovered. However, the Department wrongly presumes the letter arrives after it is mailed even though there is a spotty history, at best, of them being delivered without error.

Other Letters from the Department of Revenue

In addition to sending audit commencement notices and various letters associated with assessment challenges, the Department sends other important documents by mail. While there are too many to detail in this article, it is worth mentioning that a Tax Warrant should be addressed immediately if received by mail.

There are supposed to be several communications between the Department of Revenue and a taxpayer before enforcement action begins. However, it is not uncommon for taxpayers to only receive a Tax Warrant. If this warrant is not responded to in time, the Department of Revenue will move forward with enforcement actions, which can mean freezing your bank account.

Ultimately, it is not just audit commencement letters that must be paid close attention to. The Florida Department of Revenue sends notices at the start of audit, after an audit, and even when there is no current audit which can detrimentally impact a business if the Taxpayer does not receive the letter and timely respond to it. Business owners must pay close attention to their mail to make sure no letters are missed. For business owners who entrust their mail with an employee, policies must be in place ensuring mail is opened quickly and business owners are immediately notified of time-sensitive mail. 

A letter from the Florida Department of Revenue may be a sales and use tax audit, audit for another tax type, or a non-audit communication requiring your urgent attention. The best time to consult an attorney is right when you receive one of these communications, when there is still time to act. Too often taxpayers wait to engage counsel until a deadline has passed and there are limited, if any, options moving forward. A Florida state and local tax professional will recognize the nature of Florida Department of Revenue letters right away and be able to explain the options available while they are still available. Don’t miss out on your chance to fight an erroneous sales and use tax assessment over a simple error of ignoring mail or missing deadlines in Department of Revenue letters.

Florida sales tax attorney; Florida sales tax audit; Florida sales tax audit defenseABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanette Moffa is an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale office of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A. She focuses her practice in Florida state and local tax, with an emphasis on sales and use tax. Jeanette provides SALT planning and consulting as part of her practice, addressing issues such as nexus and taxability, including exemptions, inclusions, and exclusions of transactions from the tax base. In addition, she handles tax controversy, working with state and local agencies in resolution of assessment and refund cases. You can learn more about Jeanette HERE.

At the Law Office of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, PA, our primary practice area is Florida taxes, with a very heavy emphasis in Florida sales and use tax. We have defended Florida businesses against the Florida Department of Revenue since 1991 and have over 100 years of cumulative sales tax experience within our firm. Our partners are both CPAs/Accountants and Attorneys, so we understand both the accounting side of the situation as well as the legal side. We represent taxpayers and business owners from the entire state of Florida. Call our offices today for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to confidentially discuss how we can help put this nightmare behind you.


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FL Sales Tax: How to Settle With the Tax Man – Part II, by James McAuley, Esq., Published December 11, 2020

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Florida Sales Tax – Voluntary Disclosure Program, by Jeanette Moffa, Esq., Published April 9, 2018