(1) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Revenue be allowed to enter into contracts with certified public accountants to audit taxpayer accounts. It is further the intent of the Legislature that contracts not be used to supplant existing departmental staff or as an alternative to hiring staff when that would be more efficient.
(2) Subject to appropriations by the Legislature, the Department of Revenue shall contract with certified public accountants to conduct an audit of any person who is subject to a Florida revenue law. Furthermore, the Department of Revenue may contract with a private firm to facilitate the securing of the services of certified public accountants, licensed outside this state, to conduct audits on persons who are subject to the revenue laws of this state and who are located outside the state.
(3) Contracts for more than $25,000 but less than $50,000 shall be approved by the executive director of the Department of Revenue. Contracts for $50,000 or more must be approved by the head of the department. Contracts under this section shall be interpreted under Florida law, and any action for resolution of any dispute related to any such contract shall be brought under Florida law. Contracts may contain such other terms and conditions as the department deems appropriate under the circumstances, provided, no fee or any portion of a fee for audits contracted for pursuant to this section shall be based on the amount of tax assessed or collected as a result of the audit.
(4) The department shall establish, by rule, procedures for the selection of certified public accounting firms wishing to enter into audit contracts pursuant to this section. Such procedures shall contain, but not be limited to, the development of a rating system that takes into account pertinent information, including the firms’ fee proposals, and rank such firms participating in the process, to determine which firms will receive audit contracts.
(5) The department shall establish a training, certification, and review procedure that will ensure that audits performed pursuant to this section are of the highest quality.
(6) Certified public accountants entering into such contracts must be in good standing under the laws of the state in which they are licensed. They shall be bound by the same confidentiality requirements and subject to the same penalties as the department under s. 213.053. Any return, return information, or documentation obtained from the Internal Revenue Service under an information-sharing agreement is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and shall not be divulged or disclosed in any manner by an officer or employee of the department to any certified public accountant under a contract authorized by this section, unless the department and the Internal Revenue Service mutually agree to such disclosure.