Sink or Swim: A Guide to Surviving Sales Tax in 2017

Businesses may feel out of their depth as states look to test the waters on tax compliance in the coming year.

Sales and use tax compliance can be a complex problem for many businesses. It almost feels like you need a bowie knife to cut through the regulatory red tape, although knowledge may be a better weapon in this case. So stay sharp with Avalara’s 2017 Sales Tax Survival Guide.

Published every year to help businesses better understand the challenges they are up against when it comes to complying with sales and use tax regulations in the U.S., Avalara’s latest Survival Guide is refreshed for 2017 with insight into what’s new and what’s changed at the state and federal level, common challenges around sales tax compliance, and tips for staying on top of your tax obligations.

sales tax

States are testing the waters in 2017

States are facing budget deficits and they need revenue from taxes. Sales and use tax is one of the largest generators of this revenue, but collecting it has become more difficult as how Americans buy, sell and consume goods and services has evolved beyond what’s defined by state tax laws. For example, Congress has yet to act on outdated federal internet sales legislation; services now outpace goods in consumer spending but aren’t taxed with the same consistency; and digital delivery of software, books and other media and streaming services have states perplexed when it comes to setting standards for taxability.

This has led many states to get aggressive – hiring more auditors, expanding nexus definitions (a connection with a state that triggers an obligation to collect and remit sales tax to that state) to target out of state sellers, implementing use tax reporting policies, increasing state and local sales tax rates, and extending sales tax to more products and services.

Survival of the fittest

While not every aspect of managing transactional tax causes pain for every business, it’s pretty certain that at least some areas will pose a challenge given how quickly the rules changes.

The 2017 Sales Tax Survival Guide walks you through 10 critical compliance challenges, from determining nexus to managing exempt sales to understanding the implications of drop shipping on your business and dealing with audits and lawsuits. Each section is also buoyed with best practices for overcoming these challenges, and links to addition information should you need to go more in depth on a topic.

It’s a must-read reference for anyone who is responsible for tax compliance in their business. And it’s available for download here.

Shore up compliance

As helpful as it is, no guide is a replacement for good practices. The most valuable takeaway from the Survival Guide is a greater awareness of just how burdensome tax compliance can be on a business – large or small. Trying to keep up with ever-changing state tax rates and rules puts a strain on accounting and finance teams in terms of the research and due diligence required.

You can remove that burden with tax automation software like Avalara AvaTax. Much of the work that goes into proving sales and use tax compliance – calculating tax rates, verifying customer information, updating taxability rules, applying exemptions, remitting sales tax and even filing tax returns – can be handled easily and efficiently in your accounting system with little to no manual work required. It’s easy to set up and use, guaranteed accurate, and budget friendly. Avalara is a preferred provider of tax software for more than 500 e-commerce, shopping cart, ERP and accounting systems and used by more than 20,000 companies worldwide. Talk to your system or application provider about using AvaTax to manage transactional tax.

READ NOW


Permission to reprint or repost given by Avalara. Content previously published at www.avalara.com/blog.

Don’t Get Fooled by Nexus Rules

April 1 is commonly known as April Fool’s Day. It’s also the date when Amazon started collecting sales tax in four more states — Maine, New Mexico, Hawaii and Idaho —bringing the total to 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Amazon is no fool and sales tax nexus is no joke. States are tired of losing revenue from tax-free remote sales and are starting to crack down on businesses who fail to register or collect sales tax when their sales activities are deemed substantial enough to warrant it. Amazon’s decision to volunteer to register to collect sales tax in more states may simply be pre-emptive to ensure that, should their sales into that state meet nexus thresholds in the future, their bases are covered.

While merely speculative as to motive, it is a smart move – and one that other companies may want to consider. The Quill v. North Dakota decision is decades old now, and the physical presence standard for nexus doesn’t adequately cover e-commerce. Congress still has yet to rule on new federal online sales tax legislation, despite multiple opportunities to do so. As a result, states are starting to reinterpret nexus to their own benefit in an attempt to collect tax revenues they feel are owed them. Under these broader terms, businesses can establish nexus through such activities as attending trade shows, engaging drop shippers, hiring remote employees, and (yes) online sales.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

Amazon was one of the first e-commerce sellers to challenge remote seller nexus rules – an action which dubbed those policies “Amazon tax” or “Amazon laws.”  In the nine years since the e-commerce giant took New York to court over its 2008 Amazon tax law, the floodgates have opened to even more nexus changes at the state level, first with affiliate nexus and click-through nexus, and more recently with economic nexus laws.

The penchant for states to change or introduce new nexus laws has made it increasingly difficult and risky for businesses who sell online or into multiple states to keep track of their sales tax obligations. While it may not make sense for smaller to mid-size e-commerce sellers to volunteer to collect sales tax as universally as Amazon is now doing, it would be wise to have a solution in place to help you manage sales tax nexus — one that will scale with your business as it grows or changes.

Know your nexus

Nexus is an issue that Avalara gets asked about a lot. So much so, that they created a page on their website dedicated solely to helping companies understand nexus and even find out what nexus laws apply to each state where they do business.

Companies frequently engage Avalara’s professional services tax experts to help them determine their nexus obligations. And complying with multistate nexus is one of the biggest motivators to companies deciding to onboard Avalara’s tax automation solutions. Avalara’s software makes critical sales tax decisions automatically, pulling from the largest and most comprehensive tax database in the world and applying accurate, verified, up-to-the minute rates and rules to all your transactions. In most cases, Avalara is a simple integration to existing financial systems so setup is fast and easy. Avalara can also assist with exemption certificate management, as well as filing and remitting of sales tax returns.

For a refresher on nexus obligations, read Avalara’s guide, Everything you wanted to know about nexus (but were afraid to ask).

Permission to reprint or repost given by Avalara. Content previously published at www.avalara.com/blog.

READ NOW

SBS Group to Host Dynamics 365 Webcast for Microsoft Partners with MSDynamicsWorld.com

The webcast will discuss the latest Stratos Cloud Alliance initiative – the Stratos Dynamics Digital Transformation program – and how it helps Microsoft partners sell Dynamics 365.

SBS Group, a leading information technology services and consulting firm, has announced they will be presenting a webcast with MSDynamicsWorld.com focused on a special program for Microsoft partners to sell Microsoft Cloud Solutions. The webcast will occur Thursday, April 27 at 12 p.m. ET.

The webcast, entitled “Survive the Digital Disruption – Build a Dynamics 365 Practice in 30 Days,” will introduce SBS Group’s Stratos Cloud Alliance, a new program for Dynamics partners looking to expand their breadth of solutions while minimizing investment. The Stratos Cloud Alliance offers three flexible partner models (including a white-label option) where partners can leverage a comprehensive portfolio of Microsoft Cloud Business and Productivity Solutions, ISV Products and Tools, and Partner and Customer Services. Additionally, attendees will be introduced to Stratos Cloud Alliance’s new initiative, Stratos Dynamics Digital Transformation (S2DT), a program to help partners build a Microsoft Dynamics 365 practice in 30 days.

The presenters for the webcast are Joseph Longo, Scott May and Dave Wallen. Longo is the Chief Operating Officer at SBS Group; May is the Director of Channel Programs, Stratos Cloud Alliance at SBS Group; and Wallen is the Vice President of Marketing at SBS Group. All three presenters bring over 60 years of Dynamics partner experience combined.

Registration for the webcast is free. To register, visit http://bit.do/D365-30-Days.

The Stratos Cloud Alliance partners receive best-in-class e-commerce capabilities from a dedicated partner team and access support services designed to simplify onboarding and streamline the partner experience. To learn more about the Stratos Cloud Alliance, visit http://www.dynamics365partner.com.

About MSDynamicsWorld.com
MSDynamicsWorld.com, a GuidePoint Media publication, is the leading global independent authority covering the world of Microsoft Dynamics. MSDynamicsWorld.com is the Microsoft Dynamics community’s resource for news, expert advice, tips, best practices, white papers, case studies, and analysis.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

Dynamics 365 Questions, Answers, and More Questions

The launch of Dynamics 365 by Microsoft in late 2016 drove a lot of excitement, anticipation and even apprehension within the Microsoft Dynamics reseller channel and customer community.  Some were quite positive and others less so.  One feeling shared by nearly everyone involved was:  Confusion.

Some products were going away completely.  Others became foundational elements to new offerings.  Some didn’t change at all, but their future became suspect.  Even Microsoft employees were confused.  And I’m not referring to the retail assistant working the Microsoft Surface kiosk at the mall.  I spoke with 20-year Microsoft veterans whose current position were focused on Microsoft Dynamics and even they were confused.

And why not?  New products.  New product groupings.  New license models.  New deployment models.  New reseller programs.  New prices.  New database architecture.  New reporting tools.  Man! My first look at pricing included a 70+ slide PowerPoint deck that was wall to wall content.  I attended multiple online meetings where things were explained (those that could be explained…many kinks still needed to be worked out and some decisions weren’t finalized).

Eventually, and with the help of the team at SBS Group, I sorted things out.  The new product groupings, naming and license models started to make sense to me.  I found myself wondering why they hadn’t done this sooner.  Today, most of us who make our living in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem have made friends with Dynamics 365 and the potential it provides our customers.  Apprehension has been replaced by enthusiasm and eagerness to innovate.

Did we forget about you?

After I figured out Dynamics 365, I started to assume that everyone had.  My introductions to the offering became more succinct and my focus centered around the big ideas, like: Common Data Services, PowerBI and the almighty Cloud. These are important, but often it is in answering the most simple questions that provides the best foundation for learning.

Below are a few questions I hear again and again:

What is the difference between Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 Financials?

Dynamics 365 has two editions, Enterprise and Business editions. The Enterprise edition is optimized for 250+ employees and includes the capabilities of Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics AX products that existed in market pre Q4CY16. The Business edition is optimized for 10-250 employees and includes Dynamics 365 for Financials. Business edition and is not inclusive of Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV or Dynamics SL.

What is the difference between Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1 and Plan 2?

Enterprise Edition Plan 1 gives you the flexibility to work with any app functionality. Plan 1 includes flexibility to use Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, and full PowerApps P2. Licensing becomes simpler because all Plan 1 business application rights are included.

Licensing for Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 1

Enterprise Edition Plan 2 Plan 2 includes access to Plan 1 functionality plus Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 2 Overview

Why would I need Plan 2?

Plan 2 adds Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations to the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 for Operations provides cloud-based ERP designed to help your entire enterprise work smarter with connected systems—including financials, demand planning, supply chain management, project management, project accounting, human resource management, retail, and much more.

Where did CRM go?

CRM is alive and well, but is packaged differently since the release of Dynamics 365 Enterprise and Business Editions.  Dynamics 365 delivers the full spectrum of CRM through five individual apps— Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing —that work seamlessly together. So you can implement just what your business needs now, and add others as those needs grow.

In fact, if you are a current Dynamics CRM Online customer you’ll find that converting to Dynamics 365 will require considerable thought.  There is no direct relationship between the previous structure and the new structure.  Instead of levels (essential, basic and professional), you’re now providing access to users based on their job function. In the end, it is a better fit all around but reaching out to your partner or Indirect CSP for help will make life much easier.

If Office 365 is part of Dynamics 365, do I get a discount if I already use Office 365?

No.  They are meant to work together, but there are many options for subscribing to Office 365 so these are separate decisions.  Office 365 is a collection of online services designed to work together to provide enterprise-grade, anywhere access to email, file sharing, and online meetings. Office 365 includes features that allow administrators to add users, manage passwords and licenses, and much more. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) takes advantage of the Office 365 administration features to simplify user management. Dynamics 365 (online) users are created and managed in the Office 365 admin center.

A Dynamics 365 (online) subscription doesn’t include Office 365 applications such as Exchange Online or SharePoint Online. You can significantly enhance your company’s online, collaborative experience by integrating Office 365 applications with your Dynamics 365 (online) subscription. However, that requires a separate purchase.

Is Dynamics AX still for sale?

Microsoft has recently extended the mainstream support date of AX 2012 R3 to October 2021. This is perfect for companies who have recently implemented AX 2012 R3 and those requiring more time to migrate to AX7 and Microsoft Azure.

Dynamics 365 for Operations will be available to purchase on-premise starting in June 2017 and a preview will begin in April.  The special caveat to remaining on premise is as follows:  The on-premise data will not benefit from Microsoft’s intelligence capabilities of embedded analytics, machine learning, or other capabilities available to cloud subscribers.

Why are there Dynamics 365 PSA and Dynamics 365 Operations PSA solutions.

We get this question often and have written a blog post just on this topic.  Check it out here “When is Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) the right fit?”

In a nutshell, it just depends on your business model and the complexity of your project management and project accounting needs.  Companies with more complex project accounting or regulatory requirements are almost always going to opt for project management built around ERP (Dynamics 365 for Operations).  When project management is less complex, but bid management and early cycle scoping are more important, then the Dynamics 365 PSA solution may be a better fit.

What is Microsoft AppSource?

Microsoft AppSource is the equivalent to whatever app library is available on your phone.  When you are looking to add functionality to your mobile device, you click on the Microsoft “Store”, Apple “App Store” or Android’s “Google Play”.  You search, learn, try and ultimate purchase or subscribe online.  AppSource is similar, but for users of Microsoft’s B2B solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

“Microsoft AppSource provides a modern discovery and provisioning system for these solutions. For customers, Microsoft AppSource is your destination to easily find and evaluate the apps from Microsoft and our partners that drive your business. For ISVs, Microsoft AppSource is your destination to market line-of-business (LoB) SaaS apps to business users. Drive discoverability and usage of your apps within an existing global network of business customers through co-marketing opportunities, lead generation and the support of Microsoft’s worldwide ecosystem and sales force. Harness Azure’s leading, secure and intelligent cloud services platform and tools to deliver differentiated apps to customers.”

More Dynamics 365 Questions – Send’em my way!

Obviously, there is no way to answer everyone’s questions in a single blog post…but I would love to give it a shot.  If you have questions about Dynamics 365 or would like to explore new ideas, please feel free to reply to this post.  If I can’t answer your question, you can bet that someone on our team can.

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem and products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

Dynamics 365 For Operations Tip: Vendor Prepayments and Revenue Recognition for Fixed Price Projects

Hello, Good to be back here on the blog !!! Jumping straight into the topic here today about a new addition of a feature for vendor prepayments in relation with fixed price project revenue recognition !!

Issuing large amounts of prepayments to vendors is often a common business requirement for large scale, long-term fixed price projects, which involves a lot of sub-contracted work. Vendors often request prepayments for the subcontracting services they are contracted to deliver for these projects. These prepayments can sometimes be just a flat amount based on mutual decisions, or it can sometimes be a percentage of the total cost of the subcontracting service. There can be several months of gap between when the prepayments are issued and when the vendors actually deliver the services.

For such projects, customers usually recognize revenue on a percentage completion basis and need the ability to include these vendor prepayments in the project percentage completion calculation of the project for revenue recognition/revenue estimates calculations.

In this post, we will evaluate one of the new features of Dynamics 365 For Operations (Referred as D365 – Operations from here on), which allows us to consider these vendor prepayments automatically when running the monthly revenue recognition/estimates for fixed price projects for calculating the % completion of the project.

For this demonstration, I have setup a fixed price project and the associated contract already. This project is setup to recognize revenue on a % completion basis.

Contract Setup

Project Setup

The Project Manager has created and submitted the purchase requisition for approval so that the services can be procured from Rebar Supply Co. Ltd. See screenshot below.

PR Submitted

The purchase requisition gets approved by the designated manager and the Purchase order is automatically created. See screenshot below.

PR Approved

The Project procurement team/Project manager then sets up the prepayment details on the project purchase order that was automatically created upon approval of the requisition.

PrepaySetupOnPO

Finance and Accounting team now processes the prepayment invoice to initiate the prepayment to the vendor.

Prepay Invoice

Prepayment

Now that the finance team has processed the vendor prepayment for the subcontracting work, let us now go ahead and see what happens when they run the monthly revenue recognition process for this project.

Notice that system was able to consider the vendor prepayment cost for the project and was able to determine the percentage completion based on the total project budget/forecast defined. See screenshot below

PComp

When this revenue recognition entry is posted, the revenue amount (based on Percentage complete and the total contract value) will be posted to general ledger. We all know how it works from here 🙂

That’s it for today !!

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics 365 enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2, Dynamics 365 for Operations and more.

%d bloggers like this: