Those of us in the outsourcing environment often hear that it's just too difficult for companies to get their ducks in a row and move the sales tax function to an outsourcer. After all, there are issues around process control, data transfer, vendor quality, and timing. My advice is that you're overthinking it. If you find the right outsource partner, you'll also find the they ensure everything else just takes care of itself. And setting yourself up for a January-due-February start is the ideal arrangement.
So, if the challenge is finding the right sales tax outsource partner, then devote the time you need to explore the right things...those attributes that ensure you that the outsourcer has a legacy of doing things correctly and satisfying clients. I'd explore pertinent things like:
- Get the history of the firm's specific sales and use tax compliance experience;
- Put your eyes on a complete customer list that allows you to pick someone to call for a reference - not just the shills;
- Get introduced to the specific person who would be serving your company and confirm that they are a tax & accounting rock star;
- Be absolutely sure the vendor can get your sales tax compliance engagement implemented in days...not weeks;
- Find out how many sales tax auditsthey have been involved in and what outcomes they were able to influence;
- Determine how the firm handles sales tax notices...and if they have any volume of notices, eliminate them from contention;
- Assess the company's sales tax IQ - can your accountant answer simple questions or do they refer you to someone;
- Look at the cost and if it's significantly cheaper than your cost, or the high bidder, you'll get what you pay for.
The New Year is the optimal time to make a change in the way you handle sales tax. So celebrate the year by saving yourself time, money, and stress by finding someone who knows sales tax like the back of their hand, but serves like they are one of the sales tax professionals you would like on your staff. But, you better get going if you want someone to start your work in time for the New Year - February is just around the corner!