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Native American and Tribal Audits

Date: 12 Oct 2018

Native American audits and accounting needs are as unique as every tribe. Since tribes are sovereign nations, they have a fiduciary responsibility to conduct audits. These tribal audits can be complex and difficult to navigate, which is why we created this short guide to understanding your Native American auditing needs.

Tips for hiring a CPA for tribal audits

When looking for a CPA, it’s important to find someone who understands the complex challenges and opportunities that impact Native American entities.

Look for a firm or independent auditor who meets these basic qualifications.

  1. Specialization in Native American tribes and tribal organizations: the array of laws, regulations and standards that apply to Native organizations and enterprises are complex. It’s particularly important for tribal organizations to hire a specialist instead of a generalist when it comes to a financial professional.
  2. Proven history of working with tribal organizations and tribal governments: one of the best ways to determine whether or not a firm has this specialization is to to ask for proof. Who have they worked with before? How long have they worked with those clients? Ask plenty of questions.
  3. Dedication to ensuring a seamless, high quality customer experience: the auditing process is not only about meeting regulations, but about finding financial opportunities to maximize profits, streamline accounting systems, and more. Look for a firm or individual who has genuine enthusiasm for this type of work.

Why you should approach tribal audits as an opportunity

An excellent auditor will help you find ways to improve as an organization, but it’s always good to be prepared and educate yourself about your financial needs as well. Here are a few ways you can leverage the expertise of a professional.

  1. Improve your internal accounting system: continuously improving your own documentation and accounting processes is a good way to avoid costly mistakes. Consider this Montana tribe, who was unable to account for 14.5 million dollars due to their internal accounting system. This is why it’s so important to work with a professional that will not only audit your organization, but look for ways to improve — or prevent high-risk mistakes like these.
  2. Improve overall business performance: your audit should deliver valuable business insights when done correctly. In fact, according to a Deloitte survey, companies that capitalize on internal audit findings are more likely to grow their business as a whole. With a specialized auditor, this is equally applicable to tribes as it is to traditional businesses.

Stay informed and ahead of federal changes

In 2018, many tribal enterprises and organizations are concerned about potential changes to tribal sovereignty or audit requirements. Fortunately, a good professional can help you navigate these changes while balancing your ongoing auditing and accounting needs. If you’re ever concerned about any potential changes or updates in federal laws, regulations or standards, consider it a great opportunity for discussion with your CPA.

Contact us

For more information, or to see how our team or certified public accountants at Harshwal & Company can help, please get in touch with us today. We love to work with our clients to meet their needs and present their operations in a good light.

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