Record Retention Requirement Does Not Limit Authority to Obtain Audit Records in North Dakota

North Dakota’s Attorney General has issued an opinion stating that the record retention requirement imposed on a retailer does not limit the Tax Commissioner’s authority to obtain the records necessary to audit a taxpayer, for sales and use tax purposes. North Dakota requires retailers to preserve their records for a minimum period of three years and three months. This is to support the statute of limitations for the Commissioner to assess under audit.  If the determination of tax due relates to an incorrect or insufficient return filed by the taxpayer, notice of such determination shall be given not later than three years after the last day on which the return was due or three years after the return was filed, whichever period expires later; notice of determination of tax due for any reporting period for which a taxpayer failed to file a return shall be given not later than six years after the due date of the return; where fraudulent information is given in a return or where the failure to file a return is due to the fraudulent intent or willful attempt of the taxpayer in any manner to evade the tax, the time limitation herein provided for giving notice of the determination of tax due shall not apply.  Due to the conflict between the record retention requirement of 3 years and 3 months and the potential for a 6 year or unlimited assessment, retailers who preserve their records for longer periods must provide those records to the Tax Commissioner upon request under audit. The opinion overrules any previously issued, contrary opinions issued by the office of the Attorney General. (Opinion No. 2017-L-05, North Dakota Attorney General, December 5, 2017)

Posted on December 18, 2017