Picking the right provider to handle your business’s sales and use tax compliance is a big decision.

Businessman shaking hands with a colleague in the office-1

Dissatisfaction the norm?

Many businesses are already working with an outsourced sales tax provider but are not completely satisfied. If you feel you could do better with a new sales tax compliance provider, you’re not alone.

Almost three-quarters of financial leaders (71%) are unhappy with the way they manage sales tax, according to a recent survey commissioned by TaxConnex regarding concerns related to multi-state sales tax obligations. Among respondents who are managing sales tax with an outsourced software provider, 56% said they aren’t completely satisfied.

Why are they so unhappy? Reasons include (in order of importance):

  1. lack of customer service; no reliable point of contact from the provider
  2. not enough of the work done by the provider
  3. an increase in notice activity from tax jurisdictions;
  4. late or missed tax payments (a huge risk).

What are companies looking for in a provider? According to the survey, companies want expertise (41% of respondents), flexibility (21%), customer service (19%), transparency (13%) and, lastly, a good price (6%).

How to search

Whether you are looking to replace your current provider or looking to get sales tax off your plate, you should first look at the advantages of outsourcing sales tax compliance - savings in time and money, reduced burden on in-house staff, access to expertise and support and improved efficiency and accuracy. You shouldn’t be outsourced to a company to manage sales tax compliance for you but still suffering most of the headaches and work. And you shouldn’t have to add more work to your staff for something that is easy to outsource to a qualified provider.

What are your options? There are an array of sales tax automation software companies, specialty firms, and CPA firms that provide some level of compliance outsourcing, but before you make a decision consider these key questions.

  • What’s their focus? Do they specialize in sales tax compliance at the state and local levels?
  • How is their customer service? Can you reach someone when you need to? Are they based domestically or offshore?
  • Do they manage the aspects that are most important to you? Are they experts in their field, provide the level of customer service desired, and are they flexible enough to meet your specific business needs?
  • How do their fees work? Will you be charged additional fees for services that you may assume would be included?
  • Do they manage the aspects of sales tax that you need help with? Nexus and taxability determination? Calendar management? Audit assistance?
  • Who holds the liability for errors?

Get proposals from at least two firms, identify the services you need and give details about your business. Make sure the providers understand your business and your needs and ensure they can help with what you’re looking for. Also ask about pricing of the services included, it’s never fun to be caught off guard with upcharges for basic needs.

How to switch

If you are currently outsourced and are looking to make a change, switching can be much easier than you think. Once you’ve picked a reliable and supportive partner, here’s a checklist to ensure everything’s in place for a smooth transition:

  1. Review your contract terms to understand the cancellation policy with your current vendor.
  2. Finalize your pricing and contract terms with your new partner prior to cancelling.
  3. Gather the information needed for the transition, including tax calendars, data files, e-file credentials and so on.
  4. Send a cancellation letter to your current vendor.
  5. Request copies of all returns previously filed.
  6. Determine how to respond to notices from prior period.

Don’t let the fear of making a switch hinder your decision to look at a more reliable option.

Sales tax compliance can be daunting. With so many businesses unhappy with the way they are managing compliance, don’t let your business get stuck in the same circle of discontent. Alleviate the burden of sales tax on your staff and let an expert manage it for you.

If you’re looking for a partner who will truly take sales tax off your plate, consider talking to TaxConnex – contact us to learn more.

Robert Dumas

Written by Robert Dumas

Accountant, consultant and entrepreneur, Robert Dumas began his public accounting career on the tax staff at Arthur Young & Co., followed by a brief stint at Grant Thornton. In 1998, Robert founded Tax Partners, which became the largest sales tax compliance service bureau in the country, and later sold it to Thomson Corporation. Robert founded TaxConnex in 2006 on the principle that the sales tax industry needed more than automation to truly help clients, thus building within TaxConnex a proprietary platform and network of sales tax experts to truly take sales tax off client’s plates.