Estimated reading time: 9 minutes, 12 seconds

REVIEW: Sales and Use Tax Software

cash registerSales and use taxes could hardly be a more simple matter. Calculate your total sales for the month, multiply by the tax rate for the jurisdiction (usually city, county and state) and remit to amount due. If you somehow forget to do it, or miscalculate the amount, that jurisdiction will happily double-check your work and correct your math.

But this simple system is about to be turned on its head. A simmering feud between the taxing jurisdictions and out-of-state sellers will come before Congress, likely resulting in a new law mandating that the tax be based on the location of the buyer, not on the services the state renders to the sellers.


There's a long backstory, dating to the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Quill v. North Dakota. But for the purposes of this evaluation, the cogent point is that the feud is likely to be settled this year or next. Overturning the court's decision requires only the passage of a new law. Congress, faced with budget woes, can no longer afford to keep doling money out to the jurisdictions, and will likely vote to allow sales taxes on interstate commerce.

This means that accountants will be deluged with clients who require assistance in figuring out the bewildering array of new taxes they will need to collect and remit to as many as 11,000 different taxing jurisdictions. And that the accountants will, in turn, need software.

Once the law is passed, expect most of the major players to jump in with both feet. For now, there are only a handful of companies that are actually offering sales tax solutions. For now, we examine four of the top solution providers.

Bainbridge Island, Wash.
(877) 780-4848
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Plans that start as low as $150.

AvaTax, a cloud-based sales-and-use tax service, integrates seamlessly with more than one hundred ERP, financial, point of sale and ecommerce applications. Its Software Development Kit allows for fast integration with customized platforms and those not currently served.

Its status as a cloud-based system enables AvaTax to deliver real-time sales tax calculations based on up-to-date sales-and-use tax rates and rules, including sourcing rules and jurisdiction assignment. A patented jurisdictional assignment engine allows for accurate calculations when zip code information alone may result in errors. Avalara's Geo-Location Engine technology (a visual depiction of which can be seen online at www.geosalestax.com) supports a new range of use cases where an address is not available, such as construction sites, or where an address has not yet been established. Its mapping system, based on precise latitudes and longitudes of each location, handles the full range of 11,000 taxing jurisdictions with accuracy. The service is optimized for mobile commerce applications, and Avalara is a certified Streamlined Sales Tax provider.

Recent enhancements include a significant improvement to the AvaTax Certs product line, building on existing functionality for online retailers in collecting tax-exempt certificates. AvaTax Certs e-commerce functionality now allows clients to place a URL that launches the certificate creation wizard anywhere on their websites. The certificate collection process occurs without the need for customers to leave the shopping cart environment.


BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms

BNA Software
Arlington, Va.
(800) 424-2938 (select option 3)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Starts at $993.

BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms
BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms provides up-to-date rates and forms for more than 58,000 taxing jurisdictions in the United States, and is offered in both on-site and online versions that are updated monthly.

Two products that work together, the rates product offers CPA firms a customizable product to handle sales tax filings in multiple jurisdictions and/or with a medium-to-low volume of sales tax returns. Rate information can be exported ready to integrate into rate tables within POS/billing/financial applications. Included are more than 3,400 sales-and-use tax forms, including exemption certificates, business registrations, powers of attorney and form instructions. All of the forms are government approved and feature built-in calculations. The web-based rates lookup and maintenance system allows users to bookmark frequently referenced locations for easier rate monitoring.

The Forms Filing system prepares and prints signature-ready sales and use tax forms in blank form or PDF file formats.

Recent enhancements include continuously updated tax rates via the Internet. And the use of email push technology, which sends rates information on a scheduled and automatic basis via email, facilitating the maintenance of rate tables through ready-to-import updates in the file format preferred by the professional.


CCH CorpSystem Sales Tax SaaS Pro
Riverwoods, Ill.
Price: Starts at $1,425 annually, not including a one-time setup fee.

CCH CorpSystem Sales Tax SaaS Pro
CorpSystem Sales Tax SaaS Pro, a cloud-based, console-driven system for CPAs and CPA firms, provides sophisticated tools for the preparation, filing and remittance of sales and use tax returns for multiple clients.

This is a new product designed specifically for the CPA. It allows firm preparers to have a single set of log-in credentials for access to all assigned clients, and multiple preparers and reviewers can work on the same client simultaneously. It is part of a product family of sales and use tools that also includes Sales Tax SaaS Core for CPA clients to calculate sales and use tax, and the Sales Tax SaaS File and Remit for CPAs or clients who prefer to outsource their entire sales and use tax compliance process. These products exist on a single platform, so preparers may easily drill down into details on transactions, make adjustments to either calculations or returns, and designate processing methods (normal or gross-up at the client and tax authority levels.

The console and interface simplify data entry and update for details that include nexus, taxability, sourcing rules, exemptions, exceptions, shipping locations, SST volunteer status and other settings. In addition, the system seamlessly integrates with leading ERP solutions from Sage, Microsoft, NetSuite and Intuit. Once the integration is complete, real-time sales tax calculations occur invisibly within Customer Maintenance, Sales Order Entry, and all other affected tasks like voids and returns, while transaction data is captured for reporting, filing and audit defense. Address research, rate look-ups and manual error are eliminated, reducing the time expenditure on each transaction while improving compliance.


OneSource Indirect Tax for Determination
Thomson Reuters
Carrollton, Texas
(888) 885-0206
oneso This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price:Starts at $45,000.

OneSource Indirect Tax for Determination
OneSource Indirect Tax software is an on-premise, global indirect tax solution that integrates in real time with financial applications to provide the determination, calculation and recording of transaction taxes. The global determination capabilities are critical for multinational companies operating in tax jurisdictions worldwide, enabling them to consolidate tax compliance and remittance in a single location.

The software includes SAS 70 certified tax content that supports sales-and-use tax rates and rules for the U.S., VAT and GST rates and rules for more 170 countries. It offers configuration tools that can be used to determine the most accurate tax possible given limited transaction data. This applies to not only addresses such as ship-to and ship-from, but other data elements that may be missing from the transaction. The tax professional has wide-ranging flexibility and control to ensure that the company's tax policies are applied to all transactions-even when data is limited.

There are no limitations to the number of transactions that can run through the system or how it is deployed for test, development and production. OneSource Indirect Tax automates both the tax Determination-ddetermination, calculation and recording-and the Compliance Returns-filing and remittance. A Tax Control Panel and Workbench enables tax professionals to manage the system with minimal use of IT resources. And the system includes integration with leading financial applications.

Recent enhancements to the software include improved control over tax transactions, details compliance logic for retailers, and more flexible exemption certificate data integration. It also includes full support of Bracket System logic to determine fractional sales and ecommerce rates, as required by the states of Alabama, Florida and Maryland.


Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

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