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 For example, Congress has yet to act on outdated federal internet sales legislation; services now outpace goods in consumer spending but aren’t taxed with the same consistency; and digital delivery of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

What is the Point of AXIO Core Financials with Dynamics 365 for Operations?

At first glance, it just doesn’t make sense that SBS Group (or anyone for that matter) would create a third-party solution to enhance financial management for one of the world’s most noted financial management solutions.  I’ve had several potential clients ask about this and my answer is always the same:  It is about helping our customers realize business value faster.

When a business invests in technology, they expect tangible results.  Whether they’re aspiring to enhance operational performance, improve the customer experience or capitalize on new opportunities, the goal is to provide genuine business value in the least amount of time.  The days of waiting for smart technologists to reverse engineer generalized solutions to the needs of individual companies over the course of months and years has been put to pasture by the advent of cloud computing.

We’ve implemented ERP solutions for thousands of companies and have learned a thing or two about the kind of configurations, enhancements and customizations that different types of buyers will need.  We put that knowledge to use with every engagement, and in the case of AXIO Core Financials, we start well in advance of the engagement.

After all, Microsoft did their part. They created Dynamics 365 for Operations which is arguably the most robust ERP platform on the market today.   It is an extremely flexible, scalable Cloud ERP platform that takes advantage of the entire Microsoft Office and server stack.  It is up to our team to bend, balance and bedazzle the solution so that it operates as if it were created exclusively for each customer…and to do it quickly and efficiently.

“Bedazzling Dynamics 365 for Operations” with AXIO Core Financials

So how exactly do you bedazzle financials?  Well, you begin by understanding who you’re bedazzling it for.  AXIO Core Financials is designed to help larger, enterprise-level organizations who require universal integration of finance across any number of countries, companies and other entities. We often work with professional services firms who have operations and projects around the world and distribution companies with complex ownership and revenue management structures.  Complex operations require special attention to the setup of even the most fundamental system components.  AXIO Core Financials includes:

  • Multi-company, multi-currency management.
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • General Ledger
  • Fixed Assets
  • Procurement and Sourcing
  • Product, Inventory and Warehouse Management
  • Banking and Advanced Credit Management.
  • Regulatory support
  • Human Resource Management
  • Advanced commissions management.
  • Excel Budget Importing
  • Master Data Management Import Templates
  • Pre-Defined Business Process Flows w/ Swim-Lane Diagrams
  • On-Screen and In-App Task Guides
  • Content-Sensitive Help and Training Material

AXIO Core Financials enhances global scalability, compliance with GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley, and DCAA requirements and spans all the important back-office processes in your firm to give you unparalleled insight and control of all critical financial functions.

Sample Screen-Shot of Bank Management Workspace

AXIO Core Financials Bank Workspace with Dynamics 365 for Operations

Sample Screen-Shot of Credit and Collections Workspace

AXIO Core Financials Credit and Collection Workspace with Dynamics 365 for Operations

Faster Time to Value

By leveraging best practices and lessons learned over more than 30 years to create AXIO Core Financials, our team has been able to decrease the related Dynamics 365 for Operations implementation by an average 30-45%. And, our clients get a much-improved experience with fewer frustrations and confidence knowing that their solution has been vetted and approved by the Microsoft AppSource Team.

AXIO Core Financials on Microsoft AppSource

Learn more about AXIO Core Financials on our website or see it in Microsoft’s AppSource along with other SBS Group solutions like AXIO Professional Services for Project-Oriented firms.

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

Cloud Technology is the Future – Time to Upgrade (Part 2 of 2)

This is the sixth in a series of six blogs, which attempt to provide airport accounting managers with information on how they can improve their financial management processes.  The previous blogs covered the following topics:

This blog continues the discussion from blog number 5 on cloud computing and describes how airports can take advantage of advances in cloud technology.

In addition, readers are encouraged to read my white paper (Modern Airport, Modern Tools) that covers the same topics in a summarized form.

What about Security? Is my data secure on the Cloud?

Security is a big issue whether you are using on-premises or cloud computing. Many companies think their data is safer on-premises, but the opposite is usually true.  There are many issues that impact security, including:

  • Firewalls to prevent hackers from getting into you network
  • Data backups, including storing some backups off site
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity
    • What happens if your IT server room catches fire and burns to the ground? How do you recover your data even if you have an offsite backup? You would need another server to restore your data onto and bringing up a new server can take time.
  • Anti-virus protection
  • Manage and control user access and identity
    • Comprehensive identity management is the linchpin of any secure system. You must ensure that only authorized users can access your environment, data, and applications.
  • Encryption of data as it travels between devices and your server
  • Protection against malware and phishing emails

The chances are that your local IT services do not offer the same security as a multi-million dollar data center, let alone the billion dollar data centers operated by Microsoft.

My favorite analogy to the question of whether your data is safer on-premises or on the Cloud is whether your money is safer in the bank (Cloud) or under your mattress (on-premises).

The Future of Accounting Software…

Microsoft launched a new cloud service in late 2016 called Dynamics 365.  I decided to include some information on this new service in this blog post since it is a great example of cloud computing and represents the future of accounting software. If you haven’t already heard about this software as a service, read on….

There are two flavors to this service, Dynamics Enterprise and Dynamics Business.  The Enterprise version is intended for larger companies and is based off Microsoft Dynamics AX 7. The Business version is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and is intended for smaller businesses with up to 250 employees.  Dynamics 365 adds accounting software to other services that are already offered by Microsoft such as Office 365 or new services that are being created such as sales and marketing applications. The Business edition would be suitable for most airports.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications in the Cloud. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials is the accounting application within the Business edition and is priced at around $40 per user per month, making it very competitive and compelling for many airports.

Dynamics 365 for Financials includes the following:

  • Workflow Management
  • Financial Management
  • Purchasing
  • Sales
  • Inventory Management
  • Project Management
  • Requisitions and Quotes
  • Timesheets
  • Personal Information (HR)

The menus are very simple and the system is designed to be easy to install so that you can get up and running very quickly.

Dynamics 365 is integrated with Power BI, which was discussed in a previous blog, and can be accessed from a laptop, tablet or smart phone.

The system also integrates with Office 365, so that you can create purchase orders within your email system and send them to suppliers – this is extremely cool!  If you would like to see this, contact me.

Microsoft is updating the software every month so users are constantly using the latest version of the software. This software is only available on the cloud. We have developed an airport version of this product – contact me for more details.

What are the Economics of Cloud Computing?

In order to decide between a Cloud or on-premises solution, I recommend you take a look at the cost of the two different models.  When I prepare a quote for a customer, I usually do this for them and look at the total cost of ownership over a period of 5 years.  Why 5 years?  Because some of the costs are monthly or annual costs (monthly subscription fees or annual maintenance costs) and some are up-front initial costs (consulting fees for implementation). Once you decide to implement a new system, it is going to last you for at least 5 years, if not longer. Most companies stick with their system, good or bad, for a number of years since the cost and disruption of making a change can be significant.

Let’s take a look at an example. The following table shows the cost of an on-premise system compared to a PaaS and a SaaS Cloud service. These numbers are made up and there may be other costs that should be included in a real cost-benefit analysis, but this example illustrates how you could compare the different solutions.  The big difference between an on-premises and cloud solution is the cost of local IT personnel and other IT costs relating to an on-premises system such as the cost of the servers, disk drives, data center costs and other hardware and software costs.  If you outsource your system to the Cloud, these costs will mostly go away since you could re-deploy these resources or eliminate them.

cloud technology cost of ownership

In a SaaS solution, you will pay for the software on a subscription basis, which means you will not need to pay for annual maintenance of the software and you won’t have to pay for the up-front purchase cost of the software.

The cost of the PaaS and SaaS models needs to be looked at carefully. It may be less expensive to purchase the software and have it installed on a cloud server rather than pay for the monthly subscription for the software over the next 5 years. However, if you purchase the software, you will be responsible for any upgrades.

Ask your vendor to help you with this cost analysis.

Take Action…..

There are many advantages to implementing a cloud solution, and you could reduce the cost of your system while improving the performance, services offered and security of the system.  Contact me if you need help with understanding the benefits of cloud computing, or help with any of the other topics covered in this series of blogs.

Paul Fernandez B.Sc., ACMA, CMA
SBS Group Pacific Canada

About Paul
paul-fernandezPaul Fernandez is the general manager of SBS Pacific Canada, which is part of the SBS Group. He has worked as a professional accountant in industry for 25 years in various senior financial positions. He founded his consulting practise 15 years ago and has worked as a consultant implementing accounting systems at many companies, drawing on his own experience to advise clients on the design of their chart of accounts and multi-dimensional reporting structures. Contact Paul at pfernandez@sbsgroup.ca.

 


Looking for a modern financial management solution for your airport?

white paper download

Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud and On-Premise : The Best of Both Worlds

Major news in the enterprise Dynamics community was broken last week. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations is nearly ready for a hybrid deployment, meaning enterprise-level firms will be able to experience the best of both worlds. The hybrid cloud deployment allows enterprise firms, who could not consider a cloud-only solution, to receive the multitude of benefits of Microsoft cloud technology while still maintaining the security and control they need in order to run their firm.

Some enterprise level firms, specifically manufacturers and retailers, rely heavily on smooth and consistent production in order to make their business profitable. As such, these companies tend to lean towards ERP and business solutions that are held and controlled locally. Additionally, some of these companies are forced into these types of solutions because regulations maintain that they capture and store a customer’s personal information locally. A cloud-only solution gives them the operating power they need to produce, but not the control or security they desire. That is no longer the case for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Dynamics 365 for Operations Hybrid Cloud Announcement

In a blog post on February 23rd, Sri Srinivasan announced and detailed the availability of a hybrid deployment for Dynamics 365 for Operations. Srinivasan is the General Manager for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud and Enterprise Group.

At the Summit ’16 in Tampa, Florida, we announced the plans for a hybrid cloud deployment meant to accommodate these specific scenarios, so that organizations can combine the best of both worlds. Dynamics 365 for Operations plans to enable organizations to run their business processes from application servers at the edges, meaning that transactions are supported by local application services and business data is stored locally. Each such facility running at the edge is called “My Workplace”. The central cloud node provides a single view of the business across distributed ”My Workplace” instances while utilizing the power of the Microsoft cloud for embedded intelligence in business processes.

Sri Srinivasan, Microsoft General Manager for Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud and Enterprise Group

Sri Srinivasan, Microsoft General Manager for Dynamics 365 for Operations

The Microsoft cloud connection ensures data aggregation, financial reporting, intelligence, and more. The cloud instance also provides the local installation with data failover in the Microsoft cloud, automated deployment and continuous updates, and elastic compute capacity to infuse “intelligence” into the business process when needed. This hybrid cloud deployment model scales out through federation of the on-premises nodes (My Workplaces), federated in the Microsoft cloud for a single, global enterprise view, which is a first for business applications.  By Summer 2017, we will support a single “My Workplace”, followed by federation of “My Workplace” instances in releases beyond. We are excited to offer this deployment option, “cloud and edge”, a true differentiated option that combines the power of cloud and on-premises in a unique way to offer scale, continuity, and intelligence.

Sri Srinivasan, Microsoft General Manager for Dynamics 365 for Operations

This is fantastic news for enterprise firms looking to harness the power of the Microsoft Cloud while still being able to run certain processes locally. Srinivasan went on to divulge that there will be an ON and OFF switch of some sorts that will allow companies to control cloud synchronization – keeping them in control of their business data.

Deployment Options

With this new deployment method, enterprise firms will have a real decision to make when considering Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Do they want to take advantage of all the Microsoft Cloud has to offer? Or do they prefer to have a server nearby storing key information and running select processes? Even further, firms may want flexibility to change their ERP environment after the initial purchase without having to re-deploy a brand new ERP solution.

Here is what the Dynamics 365 for Operation team is working on at Microsoft:

  • New and existing customers will have paths forward to license both local business data and cloud and edge deployments. Existing investments will continue to be accounted for in our licensing.
  • Customers can license local business data deployments via a Dynamics 365 for Operations license with Software Assurance/Enhancement Plan or a subscription model.
  • Customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance, may upgrade to local business data as they remain entitled to access new versions and updates.
  • Transitions to Dynamics 365 cloud subscriptions are available to customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance.
  • Cloud and edge software and services will be licensed under the existing Dynamics 365 cloud subscription licensing model.

Dynamics 365 for Operations Deployment Options

Enterprise firms can select from three deployment options. The below photo examines the different scenarios and details of each deployment.

Dynamics 365 for Operations Deployment Scenarios

AXIO Enterprise Solutions for Dynamics 365

SBS Group’s AXIO Enterprise Solutions are both available on Microsoft AppSource for enterprise firms interested in optimizing and strengthening their Dynamics 365 for Operations deployment and solution. AXIO Core Financials spans all the important business processes in your firm (accounts receivable/payable, general ledger, fixed assets, banking, etc.) and is built directly on Dynamics 365 for Operations. AXIO for Professional Services gives businesses the same features as AXIO Core Financials plus several additional features needed specifically by professional services firms such as project and resource management, project accounting, government contracting and much more.

Both solutions are designed for companies who have multi-entity, multi-currency, multi-taxation and multi-language requirements. With direct integration with Dynamics 365 for Operations, AXIO Enterprise Solutions provide global scalability, enterprise-class extensibility, built-in intelligence, and compliance with all GAAP, IFRS, Sarbanes-Oxley, and DCAA requirements.

Register for our upcoming webcast and learn more about Dynamics 365 for Operations and AXIO Enterprise Solutions.

“Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Software Companies with AXIO for Professional Services”
Thursday, March 16th
1 PM – 2 PM ET

register for webcast

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, 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 helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

%d bloggers like this: