From the August 2005 Review of Sales & Use Tax Software
AvaTax ST is somewhat of a newcomer to the Sales and Use Tax application marketplace and is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses. AvaTax ST is a hosted sales and use tax web service. We have all heard about hosted web services, but may not have given much thought to it. Examples of hosted web services are Fedex.com,
UPS.com and Mapquest.com. AvaTax ST users connect their (order entry) accounting (or e-commerce) systems via an Internet connection to the web service database. Once connected — integrated — to the user’s accounting system, AvaTax ST sets to work validating the customer’s address, calculating sales tax for each transaction, and serving up dynamic, ready-in-a-flash, drill-down reports featuring
a full audit trail.
AvaTax ST is an “on demand” web service. Rather than having to make significant investments, purchasing and/or subscribing to sales and use tax software, followed by installing the software and updating tax tables on a monthly basis, AvaTax ST provides subscribers with an inexpensive high-performance, constantly updated online sales tax database. AvaTax ST’s scalable pricing will appeal to all IT budgets. Users integrate with and can quickly deploy AvaTax ST. As this is a service, there is no hardware to buy, install or maintain. The appeal is clear: Other sales and use tax solutions can be expensive, time consuming and require extensive IT resources within an enterprise. AvaTax ST needs no IT resources to activate and use. Most important, correct sales tax calculations mean that accounting personnel are removed from making quick tax jurisdiction decisions. AvaTax ST is transparent and secure, and sales tax calculations are easy, automatic and accurate.
AvaTax ST presently comes integrated with QuickBooks, Great Plains, MAS 90/200, MAS 200 SQL, and ACCPAC Advantage Series. AvaTax ST can also be custom configured to run with e-commerce and third-party applications. For 3,300 transactions per year, Great Plains users will pay an activation fee of $449.95, with a monthly payment of $99.95. Additional transactions will cost $.47 each. As well, if you prepay annually, you’ll receive 5 percent off the annual subscription price. For QuickBooks users, pricing after the initialization fee is $9.95 per month (with no transactions) plus $.50 per transaction, which is for very low-volume users; and the entry-level package price is $29.95 per month. Specific and more detailed pricing is available at http://avalara.com/index.cfm/page/pricing.
Navigation & Data Entry – 5 Stars
AvaTax ST includes a user administrative module, which manages reporting entities, users, user rights, nexus, “rule” exceptions, taxability, report generation, street address validation (zip+4) and tax rate lookup.
Paper Filing, Electronic Compliance & Payment – 2 Stars
Presently, AvaTax ST does not prepare sales and use tax forms; there is no support for paper filing or electronic compliance and payment. Avalara has, however, announced a marketing and technology partnership with STF Services Corporation, the creator of SuperForm Products. By licensing SuperForm from STF, AvaTax ST, which automatically calculates and reports sales tax, will extend its functionality to include a forms utility that will identify, automatically populate, calculate and produce completed sales and use tax returns. AvaTax has been on the market for approximately 18 months,
and I anxiously await future needed development.
Rate Updates – 5 Stars
Rate updates are performed and provided continuously by AvaTax ST. You simply connect to the web service and forget about updates.
Help/Training – 4 Stars
Support for AvaTax ST is provided by Avalara Technical Services including traditional telephone and e-mail customer support as well as instructional and troubleshooting materials. FAQs are also available online.
Relative Value – 4 Stars
AvaTax ST offers an excellent value as an alternative to traditional sales and use tax products that support small
to medium-sized businesses. Lack of tax form preparation is certainly an issue, but according to Avalara an automated forms solution is under development and will be available by August 1. For companies who find they having a nexus in multiple states, AvaTax can be a literal lifesaver.
I spoke with users who seemed genuinely pleased with their decision to subscribe to the AvaTax web service. They were definitely an excited group. One user said, “It’s super easy to work with and has excellent training. AvaTax ST is a great product.” Another said that “data entry is seamless and automatic. We trained over the phone. There are no updates [because it]
is all taken care of on the AvaTax side. Our cost savings has been great.”
2005 Overall Rating – 4 Stars