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17th Annual IFTA/IRP Audit Workshop: Day 1

March 6, 2015

Written by Casey Bullard

I recently attended the IFTA/IRP Annual Audit Workshop and it was a gas! I know not everyone can make it to these workshops so I wanted to share what I learned. Each bold heading below was an item on the agenda. Over the next three days, I’ll post up the notes I took for each day. I hope this is helpful to you! If you have any questions, or want to talk to me about the meeting, please call! I have copies of the agenda, the audit report, and many other fun things to share!

Date: Tuesday February 24, 2015
Location: Menger Hotel, San Antonio TX

Jimmy Arche: Welcome Message

Jeff Hood: Housekeeping

Icebreaker: Vanity plate translation

Debora Meise & Lonette Turner: What’s new in IRP

Tim Adams: What’s new in IRP

Sandy Johnson: Magic Words with GPS and Distance Records

Sandy Johnson was invited to speak about GPS. She reminded us that GPS data does only one thing: it records latitude, longitude, date and time. Any other calculation is done by software AFTER the pings, and there’s no standard way to do that. Each software company does it differently. This is why auditors won’t accept data summaries. Not all software is created equally and not all developers have done the work necessary to create an IFTA tax return.

GPS is a good solution, but it isn’t perfect. It’s not magic and it isn’t going to solve all carrier problems. There will still be gaps that need to be filled. The raw data also needs to be stored somewhere, and accessible in case of an audit.

Sandy gave us 6 tips to make the best use of GPS Data:

  1. Computerized distance summaries are not accepted as a “sole source document.”
  2. Carriers must be able to produce original data for an audit.
  3. Original data must be kept for the entire audit period. (This is a LOT of data)
  4. GPS is accurate and reliable, but it’s not perfect. Carriers need to check for and fill gaps in the data.
  5. Carriers have to know the rules. They are signing up for more then just a license – they are on the honor system, filling the returns, and keeping the distance.
  6. Neither IFTA nor IRP nor jurisdictions specifically endorse ANY specific GPS system. “IFTA Approved” is not a real thing.

The main point is that raw data needs to be saved and accessible, in case of an audit.

People in the audience were then invited to ask questions, and the general consensus was that industry and auditors would like a “Standard set of rules” between all parties. That way, digital information could be given to an auditor in the form of a “flat file.” Jeff Hood (IN Department of Revenue) said that he wanted industry involved, and acknowledged the need for give and take and collaboration.

Dave Nicholson & Dawn Lietz & Mr. Madson: Ballot Discussion

Audit Breakout Secession:”Stuck in the Truck” Audit Example

We were put in groups that involved industry and auditors. The goal was for auditors to get training that was as consistent as possible throughout the jurisdictions.

Two things struck me. First, I took notice of the kind of mind the auditors at my table had. They could look at the data for only a brief time, before spotting problems. Even new auditors with only six months of experience had questions about the data within about 60 seconds.

Second, we did mock questions and answers about the data. In my group, the auditors were uncomfortable trying to come to any conclusions, mostly wanting to ask questions and get more data from the carrier.  While their questions seemed totally reasonable to me, questions like, “Can you fill these gaps in the GPS Data?” got answers like, “Well we use some very expensive software and I’m sure it doesn’t have gaps.” I expected the answer to be more agreeable, like “I didn’t know that problem existed, let me look into it and get back to you as soon as possible.” I’m sure most of the answers were intended in good fun, as much to blow off steam as to get a laugh. Laugh we all did.

That about wrapped up day one! Turn in tomorrow for more details about day two!