What will your documents prove?

BY MARK BEVINGTON

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In tax, what was in the minds of decision makers can matter. Yet a request by evidence-hungry authorities for e-mail correspondence can be bad news. What to do? They are often relevant but how often does their provision actually help resolve a dispute?

Their unstructured and voluminous nature often means they obscure, not clarify, and make matters far worse if each side cherry-picks ‘helpful’ quotes. A potential hearing which turns on thousands of e-mails can force taxpayers to accept an outcome they know isn’t fair. The alternative? Tell your story first and tell it well. The best accompanying analysis allows the whole story to be more robustly, objectively and succinctly told, vastly improving protection against cheap shots. Amazing tools exist but are unused by many. It may take effort and skill to use them productively but it’s effort worth spending if you want your documents to prove anything.