Verifying Business Account Status

Buying an Existing Business

Before buying an existing business, the purchaser should ask the seller for documentation of any tax, penalty, or interest due to the Florida Department of Revenue, since the purchaser could be liable for what is owed in relation to the business. The purchaser can withhold enough of the purchase money to cover the liability until the seller pays the amount due. While the sale is pending, the purchaser should have the seller hold an amount in escrow equal to any potential liability.

The seller can ask the Department for a Certificate of Compliance as proof the Department has not issued a Notice of Intent to Audit Books and Records and there are no outstanding liabilities on their account. The seller can provide this certificate to the purchaser as proof of good standing when selling a business or business interest.

Applying for Federal Grants or Loans

A taxpayer can also request a Tax Clearance Letter (status of account) to be used when applying for certain federal grants or loans. While this letter provides the status of an account, it does not exempt the business from future audits that may cover periods before the business was sold.

Both the Certificate of Compliance and the Tax Clearance Letter represent a point in time and show that the taxpayer does not currently have outstanding audit assessment notices, tax delinquencies and/or bills. If a significant amount of time lapses between issuance of the certificate and the sale, a new certificate may be requested.

How to Request a Tax Clearance Letter or Certificate of Compliance

You can apply online for a Request for Tax Clearance Letter or Certificate of Compliance. The requester's name must be listed on the Florida Department of State - Division of Corporations showing their association with the company or they must have a Power of Attorney (Form DR-835 PDF Icon) on file with the Florida Department of Revenue.

The request must include all of the following information to prevent denial:

  • The business name, name of the requester (including signature), business address, telephone number, fax number and email address.
  • An identification number (such as Business Partner Number, Federal Employer Identification Number, Certificate of Registration Number, etc.)
  • A copy of the driver's license for the Power of Attorney or authorized agent registered with the Florida Department of State. The picture ID must be readable or processing may be delayed.
  • A properly executed Power of Attorney (Form DR-835 PDF Icon), if you want a qualified party to represent you.

You may fax your request to 850-922-5254 or mail it to:

Florida Department of Revenue
PO Box 8045
Tallahassee, Florida 32314-8045

Note: When possible, the Florida Department of Revenue responds to inquiries by either email or telephone. Confidential information included in an email response (e.g., tax number(s), SSNs, etc.) will be sent using the Department's secure email software, Microsoft Office Message Encryption (OME). Microsoft OME requires you to establish a Microsoft Live account for your email address and create a password. You may need to turn off spam blocking tools and/or change security options to receive secure emails from the Department.

The standard time frame for processing is 7 to 10 business days from the date the Department receives your request. Please allow additional processing time for mailed requests.

How to Request a Transferee Liability Audit

When a business or stock of goods is sold, the unpaid sales tax liability (if any) of the former owner may transfer to the purchaser, unless the Florida Department of Revenue issues a Certificate of Compliance or conducts a transferee liability audit. Either the buyer or the seller can request the audit:

  • The seller can submit the Seller's Application for Transferee Liability Certificate (Form DR-842 PDF Icon);
  • The purchaser can submit the Purchaser's Application for Transferee Liability Certificate (Form DR-843 PDF Icon), along with a signed sales agreement included with the request.

Because tax information is confidential, the Department will provide only the seller with the audit results and transferee liability certificate.

Who conducts the audit?

Generally, the Florida Department of Revenue conducts the audit. However, for sales tax, you can hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who is qualified to conduct sales and use tax audits for the Department.

Florida Department of Revenue Audit: If you want the Department to conduct the audit, send the completed Seller's Application for Transferee Liability Certificate (Form DR-842 PDF Icon) or Purchaser's Application for Transferee Liability Certificate (Form DR-843 PDF Icon) and signed sales agreement to:

Florida Department of Revenue
PO Box 5139
Tallahassee FL 32314-5139

Hiring a CPA: For sales tax audits, you can hire a qualified CPA to conduct your transferee liability audit. Qualified CPA practitioners are certified in sales and use tax through the Certified Audit Program (Form GT-800065 PDF Icon).

The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a list of CPA practitioners who are certified to conduct sales and use tax audits for the Department. When you select a CPA, he or she will tell you what information is needed to conduct the audit. You are responsible for paying the fee to the auditor you select.

When the audit is complete, the Department will notify the current owner of the business of tax, penalty and interest due (if any). If there is a delay in the sale of the business, you may request a Certificate of Compliance for the periods not covered by the audit.

Note: Sales tax is the only tax for which a certified audit may be completed.

For More Information

For more information about certificates of compliance or tax clearance letters, contact your local service center or call the Department's Tax Information and Assistance line at 850-488-6800 Monday-Friday, excluding holidays.

If you have general questions about transferee liability audits, contact the Department's Case Processing Section at 850-617-8565 or email RevProcs@floridarevenue.com.

If you have questions about the Certified Audit Program, call the Department's Certified Audit Section at 850-617-8578, or the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA) at 800-342-3197. Visit the FICPA's website for more information on the Certified Audit Program and the list of qualified CPA Practitioners.