Avalara – AvaTax Calc
Best Fit: Businesses with sales tax reporting obligations across multiple jurisdictions throughout the U.S. and Canada. AvaTax also supports those businesses that have overseas subsidiaries with single country VAT requirements, and offers transaction processing in over 50 countries, with plans to expand on this capability over the coming months.
- Directly integrates with a business’ accounting and sales systems
- Rates and rules for over 14,000 jurisdictions are continuously maintained by Avalara, no updates required
- Broad reporting and oversight capabilities.
- Optional exemption certificate management service (AvaTax Certs) is available
- AvaTax Returns provides automated compliance processing
- Complies with Streamlined Sales Tax and other state treaties
- No built-in DIY e-filing or payment options
- Primarily for client-side use
Avalara the AvaTax Calc system reviewed here is designed to integrate directly into a business’ accounting system, online sales management or ERP. This allows for automatic, real-time determination of sales tax rates as an order or estimate is being entered or processed either by a business user or though e-commerce sales. The other core product offerings from Avalara include AvaTax Certs, for exemption certificate management, AvaTax Returns, for outsourced compliance reporting, and TrustFile, a non-integrated sales and use tax system for entities with less complex compliance needs.
Basic System Functions - 4.75 Stars
Initial installation and syncing to the business’ accounting and sales system is guided by AvaTax support and training specialists. The program can be integrated into most small, mid-sized and larger entity accounting systems and ERPs, including QuickBooks, Peachtree, Intacct and NetSuite. Initial system setup includes determination of taxability rules for all inventory products, SKUs and other data.
After implementation, the system is essentially a web-based tax lookup utility that works with the business accounting system to automatically determine and calculate tax rates and amounts across all potential jurisdictions based on a physical address. Since taxability of specific items can vary greatly across states and local jurisdictions, this process helps keep the business in compliance when selling items which are subject to taxes in different locations.
Most user interaction with the program is related to reporting. Upon completion of a transaction, each sale is broken down by invoice line, giving users the ability to drill down to each lower level jurisdiction. The system supports multiple simultaneous state, county, city, district and special jurisdictions. Users also have web-based access to a forms library, basic exemption certificate management (advanced options are available in the separate module), and liability reports.
The program can be used for any number of businesses being managed on the same accounting system, and supports entities with multiple locations. Because the core tax rate engine is web-based, reporting and other data can be accessed remotely, even if the business’ accounting system is locally-installed.
Compliance Capabilities - 4.75 Stars
The AvaTax Calc database is one of the most comprehensive systems on the market, with up-to-date, historical and pending future rates for more than 14,000 jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada, as well as VAT compliance for 39 countries. These rates, and all of the special taxability rules and sales tax holidays, are maintained and automatically updated by Avalara’s professional staff.