Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 16 seconds

REVIEW: Sales and Use Tax Products

Superheroes are all the rage in Hollywood. We've had Batman, Ironman, and soon the Green Hornet featured in action-packed adventures on the big screen. I like to think of sales tax vendors in a similar vein. Without these vendors, we would be at the mercy of rogue tax authorities, with their unwieldy rate changes, jurisdictional gerrymandering and dastardly dizzying product classifications. We would lead dark and dreary lives filled with daily tax rate lookups, rule validation, and infinite audit adjustments. Thank goodness we can reach for the red phone when we get overly taxed.


We've got four sales tax vendors to review, each with their own unique superpowers.

Let's take a look at their latest offerings, in alphabetical order by vendor:
1. Avalara
2. BNA
3. Speedtax
4. CCH: Wolters - Kluwer

Bainbridge Island, Wash.
(877) 780-4848
Price: For QuickBooks about $1,000; For Dynamics GP $3,000 to $5,000.

RelaxMan (or RelaxMon): Avalara's Avatax
These guys are all about chillin'. Their mission is to reduce the pain of sales tax management (and presumably replace it with Tiki Huts and an ocean view.) They are an outsourced cloud-based solution provider and with their recent acquisition of TaxCient they can also help you manage sales tax exemption certificates.

They make their home on the cloud but integrate with your accounting application wherever it resides. In the last year, they have expanded their ecommerce capabilities by offering connectors to Demandware, Magento, ASPdotnetStorefront and Americommerce.
They deliver a powerful punch with their offering that includes: sales tax calculations, return and remittance filing, exemption management and sales tax services. They have continually enhanced the Avalara Accountants Program and now program members can deliver client sales tax services and white-labeled tax returns.

Superpower: Able to cross remote locations with a single internet connection.

BNA Sales and Use Tax Forms

BNA Software
Arlington, Va.
(800) 372-1033
Price: Sales and Use Tax Rates, starts at $1,270 ( with Exporter); $950 (without exporter).

Disseminatrix: BNA's Sales & Use Tax Rates Online and Sales Tax Form.
They don't need a fancy cape or a specially equipped cave. This supplier is out to meet the needs of its customers without making a fuss

If you need tax tables that are accurate and sharable, these guys can come to your rescue. Ideal for multi-location retailers who run stand-alone point of sale solutions, they provide web-delivered tables that can be customized to your location.

If you're in Boise, Idaho running a retail store, that's the only rate information you need. If you are at corporate headquarters, you want to download the rates and quickly get them out to your retail locations.

BNA offers a forms service as well. You go online and get whatever forms you need for a specific jurisdiction, then enter information and get calculation assistance. This superhero won't arrive in a fancy car or a flashy motorcycle, but for retailers and others in need of an accurate, reliable solution, they always show up in the nick of time.

Superpower: Able to get the right amount of information to individuals working in decentralized locations.

SpeedTax Manager
Laguna Hills, Calif.
(888) 349-2441
Price: SpeedTax Core,  starts at about $800 for 1,200 annual transactions. SpeedTax Lite, t $20 per month with no setup fee. SpeedTax Plus, returns and remittance service, starts at $600 for 12 annual returns.

The Green Console: Speedtax Manager
Another one of the cloud dwellers, this superhero is all about customer service. Their solution was designed by CPAs and includes a central management dashboard that brings relevant sales tax information together in one place (Hence the catchy moniker.)

Like Avalara, they offer a full set of sales tax offerings, including exemption certificate management through their relationship with CertCapture (www.certcapture.com). They have had success with Top 100 CPA firms who either recommend the Speedtax solution to clients or use SpeedTax Pro as their engine to provide automated returns and remittance services for clients.

They integrate with a number of leading software products and have seen significant growth in serving online retailers. They now offer separate reporting of sales tax by company location (or outlet).

They have recently teamed up with a sidekick, Fujitsu, who has joined them in bringing surveys and other important information to market.

Superpower: Able to serve companies at any point on the small-to-enterprise business spectrum.

CorpSystem Sales Tax Office

Riverwood, Ill
(866) 513-2677
Price: For use with Microsoft Dynamic AX, $16,319 to $23,180 (first year) for companies with annual revenue up to a billion; 75 percent annual renewal fee.

SuiteMan - CorpSystem Sales Tax Office
The Sales Tax Office product is one of a number of solutions in the CorpSystem family that are designed to rid the streets of rogue tax rates applied improperly. It is a desktop solution designed to integrate with transactions at the point of processing. Other offerings include Sales Tax Online (which integrates with Microsoft Dynamics AX or GP) and Sales Tax Returns Online.

Like other products in this review, Wolters-Kluwer helps companies manage their exemption certificates through their CorpSystem Sales Tax Office product. Unlike other vendors, they also offer a service bureau option (called CorpSystem Sales Tax Compliance Services) where companies can hand over their sales tax challenges to a team of CCH preparers.

Wolters-Kluwer is closely aligned with Microsoft in their product offerings and connectors. Perhaps these two behemoths share a belief that their clients should implement a stack of solutions from a single vendor.

The sales tax solution is just one of many weapons in the Wolters-Kluwer product arsenal that helps Wolters-Kluwer in their valiant fight to eliminate paper from the desks of CPAs everywhere.

Superpower: Able to meet your sales tax needs in a number of different ways.


Geni Whitehouse CPA.CITP, CSPM
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Founder of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard, an organization focused on communication skills for smart people.  With past roles ranging from partner in a CPA firm to leader of the technology practice in a firm, she has a wide range of experiences to share.  She is a former software company executive and industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. She is passionate about finding interesting ways to talk about what some might consider boring subjects and has discovered that there is no shortage of material. She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard.
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