Do I have to give L&I boxes of records?

One tip that a lot of people don’t expect is to NOT try to make the L&I auditors job easier by explaining or reworking your records. Most business owners are used to trying to make things make sense. If the records they have are difficult to read, then they make a spreadsheet, or otherwise try to make a more clear presentation. This helpful impulse usually ends up being ignored, at best. Or at worst the extra information creates a problem later for the business owner who was only trying to be helpful.

There are a lot of details involved in an audit. If one detail on your spreadsheet doesn’t match a record - even if it’s only a typo - then the auditor will understandably be a little concerned about relying on the spreadsheet or other record. It will lower trust and create more work for the auditor.

Most auditors would prefer to see your original records, even if the original records are hard to read. The auditors are used to sorting these records. They expect to see a business that keeps regular records, but they aren’t too worried about spreadsheets created just for the audit.

And to answer the question in the headline, there’s no need to drop off boxes of records or invoices. Whatever electronic records keeping system you’re using will be fine. Print it out, make a PDF, and send it via email. If there’s too much to email, then you can put the records on a memory stick to be mailed to the auditor.

Elizabeth Steen has 10 years experience in regulatory compliance and agency regulation. She’s worked in the United States Senate and as a contractor with federal and state agencies that include TSA, DHS, and the SEC.

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