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All of us that just survived the onerous deadlines of multiple tax seasons in the last several weeks know one thing for sure - everyone requiring a tax return from you is short on money.  As deficits rise, the local ecomomies shrink, and pressure for public services heightens, there appear to be no winners.  But there are losers.  Big losers.  And it's those of you filling out tax returns which are accompanied by bigger checks than you've ever written before.  It seems the small and medium-sized business is bearing an overwhelming burden in their attempts to keep up with the open hands thrust their way.

Nowhere is this more true than in the sales and use tax business.  We've gone through a first quarter with more legislation, increasing oppressive nexus and taxability changes, increased state and local tax rates, and unprecedented audit activity.  The pressure to keep your small/medium business relevant in the market is pressure enough.  But the taxman has to be paid...despite your market relevance.

Unfortunately, it doesn't feel like all of my tax contributions (and yours) are making much of a difference.  State and local govenments are scrambling for dollars, canceling programs, missing obligations, and worried for their futures.  So where will this pile of money come from?  My guess is that you already know the answer.

You and I will continue to feel the pressure from our state and local agencies with more difficult rules, higher tax rates, increased audit pressure, stealth taxes, and stronger enforcement.  It's hard enough to keep up with already, both intellectually and fiscally.  So...are you ready?  Do you have a sales tax consultant ready to guide you?  Are you committed to having your sales and use tax return preparation and compliance in order?  Do you have a game plan for sales tax audits aimed at your blind spots?

Most of you aren't ready, or so it seems when I speak to you in passing.  Don't fall into the trap of waiting for a taxing authority to discover your blind spots and strike up an unnerving conversation.  Be prepared and get help.  There are dozens of talented sales tax professionals who can pay for themselves by proactively advising you.  And they can help dig you out of a tax predicament very quickly.  The key is for you, as a private business, to stay frosty and be prepared.  You're gonna need help for that, because the taxman IS coming.  As one world-famous financial counselor suggested - start with the small stuff and work your way up to the more imposing issues.  There's no better time to start with the small stuff, than when you control your own destiny and are proactively armed with expert advice.

Doug Starr

Written by Doug Starr