Audit's don't usually start unannounced. There is normally a period before the audit starts when IRD does a risk review. If you can identify errors at that stage then there is the option of making a voluntary disclosure. That will minimise your costs and resolve the issue. If matters carry on to an audit the next step is entering the dispute phase where IRD will issue you with formal documents called a Notice of Proposed Adjustment (NOPA). That is the beginning of the disputes phase.
There can be some tension between you and your accountant at that point because there may have been an error made by your accountant or it may be one of those situations where a fine judgment call needs to be made as to whether you are right or not. You don't want to be in the dispute process if you are not going to win the dispute. That is where tax barrister come in. They are independent and can give you frank advice as to whether you will win the dispute or not. Where James Coleman adds value is in terms of the quality of those judgments.
He has unbeatable experience in this space. This is because James has argued more tax cases in New Zealand than any other tax barrister. You can review the cases James has appeared in by visiting the Ministry of Justice's Judicial Decisions Online website and searching for Coleman in the counsel box. James has been arguing tax cases since 1991 so as over 28 years’ experience. But the dispute starts along time before the court stage is reached. It starts with the risk review letter. This is because at that stage there is an option of resolving the dispute through the voluntary disclosure process and avoiding shortfall penalties.
This website also contains a partial list of the cases he has appeared in as well as copies of some of the judgments. The cases James has argued include a large number of the leading cases in terms of New Zealand tax law. He is truly a tax expert.