TrustFile, an Avalara Company — TrustFile Sales & Use Tax
From the August 2011 Review of Sales & Use Tax Systems
Best Fit: Businesses wishing to e-file their sales and use tax reports for multiple location businesses in one or more of the 12 supported states, and those who wish to electronically pay these liabilities.
TrustFile is available in versions for 12 states (see list below), offering electronic and print-based filing, as well as electronic payment, for businesses with sales tax reporting obligations in those states. The system also offers tools for users or professional firms managing multiple client entities. In addition to these states, the company offers the TrustFile Forms Library, a collection of more than 1,000 state and local forms available in PDF format, allowing for print-based filing to states without an e-file mandate. The TrustFile system was originally developed more than 20 years ago, and has continued to evolve technologically, particularly since its acquisition by Avalara a few years ago. The vendor also offers the AvaTax sales tax compliance system, which can be integrated into the accounting software of businesses with more volatile taxation needs.
Basic System Functions:
TrustFile is an installed program that offers downloadable software, as well as CDs and web-based updates, with a guided installation process and the ability to set it up either on a standalone PC or on a network with multiple users/preparers. The system is primarily designed for direct use by business managers, but also supports the management of sales and use taxes for multiple entities, with user licenses allowing up to five separate EIN filers, and additional license packages available.
The primary interface is fairly basic, opening to a blank work area with pull-down menus and a few icons for key functions, including opening companies, editing electronic payment information, initiating e-filing and checking transmission status. The system offers a Tax Preparation Wizard that guides users through data-entry tasks, or preparation can be performed on a more manual basis. Through either method, data entry takes place on form replicas that automatically populate business data and perform calculations in real-time. TrustFile includes forms and utilities for managing deductions, exemptions and other sales and use tax factors. The system’s forms library can be accessed directly from a pull-down menu. Overall, TrustFile offers basic navigation and data-entry work screens with few advanced features. 4
There are 12 editions of TrustFile, each designed to provide sales and use tax (and some related compliance) for one of the following states: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. All subsidiary jurisdictions within these states are supported, including for entities with multiple locations within each state. However, each of the programs is independent of the others and do not integrate with each other, so businesses with compliance requirements in multiple states, such as Florida and Georgia, would need to use both state programs.
Each of the TrustFile systems offer the same general interface and features, but with form support specific to the state. Its work screens provide basic form replicas with minimal customization options, although a wizard is available to guide users through preparation functions. Forms can be e-filed and payments remitted electronically to each of the 12 states for which there is a program version, or can be printed. In addition to the state programs, Avalara offers TrustFile Forms, a separate forms library that has approved PDF versions of virtually all state and local forms for all other states, which can be manually prepared and print-filed.
Program and tax rate updates are available via CD (for an additional handling fee) or can be downloaded through the system or from the website for free. The program does not have an automatic update checking feature.
The system offers a few basic reporting options, including company and location lists, import and communication logs, and receipts/acknowledgements for electronic transmissions. All of these, as well as state forms, can be printed, viewed on screen or saved to PDF format, which provides for paperless management. It does not offer output of data into formats importable by accounting programs. The system can import from CSV formatted files, allowing a two-step import from most financial applications.
TrustFile includes a traditional Help utility, and filing instructions are offered as a separate PDF document (but not integrated into the program). The vendor’s support website includes a resource center with demos, whitepapers and research, and webinar videos and user forums are also available. Standard technical support is included with system pricing, while higher support packages are subscription-based. Advanced training options are also offered.
Executive Summary & Pricing
TrustFile is best suited for small to mid-sized businesses with multiple locations within one or more of the states supported by the program. The e-file focused system is simple to use, though lacks some advanced features and report output options. Each state edition is priced at $159 per year, which supports filing for up to five entities in that state. Additional user licenses are available for $99 each.
2011 Overall Rating: