Sophia H and Marie Koza
Pictured: Sophia Hassman and Marie Koza

When Denver Green Belt Sophia Hassman became a tax audit supervisor two years ago, she took over the training of new staff tax auditors. In previous years, the audit unit hired one or two people a year, but because of the tenure of the unit, eight people have been hired in the past year and a half. New hire training had previously been performed by tenured supervisors with invaluable knowledge that was not all written down. Because of the increased hires the audit unit needed to change and structure the process for a group format and define everything so nothing was forgotten.

“There’s a lot  of valuable materials for new employees, which had all been scattered in our shared drive. I wanted everything together, all the forms, tests, and courses that the new employees needed to take, so I created a manual with direct links for new staff auditors that has defined expectations and checklists. Now, both of us know what is expected day-to-day, from learning the tax code to applying the concepts. In case a new supervisor took over this role, I created another supervisor guide to complement the auditor guide, which has more information and guidance.”                     – Sophia Hassman, Tax Audit Supervisor


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Phase 1 of the guide contains a checklist that’s relevant to all new employees, such as what orientation courses they are required to take, how to request time off, how mileage works, setting up voicemail, etc. It also includes tasks that are specific for the tax audit unit, including reading the tax code, going over resources and presentations, and completing a series of tests to check the employee’s understanding. Sophia helps the new auditors understand the ins and outs of the tax code before they go out and audit a business for tax compliance.

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Phase 1 also includes ensuring the new employee understands how to apply the various software systems, workpapers, and statistical skills they’ll need to use once they are independent auditors. Sophia collected special cases and exercises created over the years to provide the new employee with experience and learning opportunities to apply these skills to example cases. She also relies on more experienced tax auditors to help coach the new employees, providing leadership experience to senior staff and to be another guide for the new employees.  A new employee completes Phase 1 in a month, after which time they are paired with senior or lead tax auditors to perform and conduct training audits of Denver taxpayers also known as Phase 2.

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The guide then sets out expectations and a workflow diagram for these training audits. The manual also has a checklist of tasks for audits conducted solely by the new employee (and overseen by the training supervisor). It takes about a year for a new auditor to get fully up to speed, and this on-the-job training provides a supervised, real-life application of everything they learned in Phase 1.

“It’s nice to have the checklists for me as well, so I don’t forget anything I need to teach them. Everyone knows what’s expected, and current auditors can reference the new employee manual if they want a refresher. This manual is fluid and updated regularly, to update links and include new material. I’ve started on a manual for supervisor’s duties as well, since several of the six supervisors are eligible for retirement in the next three to six years and new supervisors will need to know how to accomplish certain tasks.”   – Sophia Hassman, Tax Audit Supervisor

This ‘New Staff Tax Auditor Manual’ is an excellent representation of standard work, helping to ensure new employees receive consistent training and are clear on what is expected of them the first several months on the job. Peak staff are planning to modify this manual for new team members, and it’s been shared with other sections of the Department of Finance as a great example of a new employee onboarding manual and a simple innovation.

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