2011 Review of BNA Software – BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms


BNA Software - Sales & Use Tax Rates & Forms


From the August 2011 Review of Sales & Use Tax Systems

Best Fit: Mid-sized and larger businesses with growing SALT compliance complexity, and firms managing compliance for multiple entities. Also businesses wanting comprehensive tax tables for export into their live sales and accounting systems.

BNA Software offers installed and online programs for sales and use tax management, including rate lookup, a rate table export utility, and a comprehensive sales and use tax forms library. The system reviewed here is the combined BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms Online, which provide compliance tools for all U.S. states, as well as cities, counties and special taxing jurisdictions. These are actually two separate systems, one for forms preparation and one for rate lookup. And while they don’t directly integrate, they can be used either individually or together to find appropriate tax rates for virtually any taxing jurisdiction and then complete the appropriate forms. The system also includes a rate export function that allows rates for any or all jurisdictions to be imported into another software application.

Basic System Functions:


  • Very easy-to-use
  • Comprehensive: All U.S. jurisdictions
  • PDF, Excel, XML, CSV, Text output
  • Multi-client management tools
  • Schedulable rate table export feature
  • Web-based delivery means easy access and no updating
Potential Limitations:
  • Rate lookup and form preparation not integrated
  • No e-filing or electronic payment options

The core forms preparation system is housed in a program that, although it is served via the web, appears and performs like an installed program, providing a non-browser application window and traditional work environment with icons and pull-down menus for accessing key system features. The system can be set up to provide management for any number of tax paying entities, and the use of profiles allows users to quickly create subsequent returns for an entity, with all basic company contact information, EIN and tax permit data automatically populating forms.

Form data entry is generally simple to perform, with tabbed access to automatically calculating data fields and line-by-line right-click access to official form instructions. The system has a comprehensive collection of forms, schedules and worksheets for all jurisdictions. Users can create new forms or access existing ones using selection lists at the top of the screen.

The other part of the program offers sales and use tax rate lookup or tax table export, both accessed via a browser login that provides a search utility with options for searching by ZIP Code, city, county, state or all, as well as the option to browse jurisdictions alphabetically. When displaying results, it includes a single-screen view of state, county and city tax rates, historical and pending rate changes, notes on special districts, an integrated calculator, and also information on special treatments, including combined/split rates, maximum tax levels and override rates.

Compliance Capabilities:

The forms preparation system includes a library of nearly 3,400 self-calculating forms for state, county, city and other jurisdictions across the United States, as well as exemption certificates, registrations and general business forms required by the jurisdictions such as powers of attorney, applications for disclosure, notices of closeout and settlement proposals. As previously noted, forms can be pre-populated with business entity data, and entry sheets for financial information are easy to understand and use.

Although the system is SaaS, Sales & Use Tax Rates Online does not offer integrated e-filing or electronic payments to taxing authorities. Instead, forms must be printed and mailed or data transferred into state sales tax reporting websites.

In addition to traditional sales and use tax rate searches, the lookup system offers additional features, accessed via tabs across the top of the browser screen, including a “Browse Jurisdiction” function that allows drilldown capability, the ability to save favorites, a “What’s New” section and the Rates Exporter utility, which lets users download rate tables, and even schedule downloads to automatically occur at specific times and into particular formats. These tables can then be imported into another software application. Since the program is online, BNA Software constantly maintains the tax rate tables, which include accurate rates for more than 58,000 jurisdictions in the United States.


The BNA system allows users to print, view on screen, or save all generated forms and instructions into PDF format, and the rates export can be saved to Excel, CSV, XML or text files. As previously noted, the rate lookup system and the forms preparation systems do not integrate with each other. In order to insert a rate into a form for calculation, the user must first find the appropriate rate, then add it to a form manually, after which the system will automatically calculate the results based on sales, exemptions, deductions and other factors.

The auto-scheduling export function delivers the rate tables, in the format desired, to a recipient via email, with the person then able to update sales or accounting systems, as necessary.


Right-click menus give line-by-line instructions for all forms, and the program includes an electronic user manual. Tutorials are also available for a variety of tasks, including opening and working with forms, creating and applying profiles, and printing forms. Additional support features, such as FAQs and a resource center with whitepapers, articles and webinars are offered on the BNA website. Live, toll-free telephone technical support is included with system pricing.

Executive Summary & Pricing

The two components of BNA Sales & Use Tax Rates and Forms Online (the forms preparation and rate lookup utility) are easy to learn and use, and provide comprehensive compliance support that includes all taxing jurisdictions in the United States. The program does not offer e-filing or electronic payment of sales and use tax returns, but can be used in preparation of forms that are then submitted online via a state website. The system is best designed for mid-sized and larger businesses with multiple locations or varying nexus definitions that require compliance with multiple jurisdictions. Its ability to manage any number of business entities also makes it a good selection for firms managing these compliance processes for multiple entities. Pricing is $925 per year for unlimited access and use of both the forms preparation and rate lookup systems.

2011 Overall Rating: