Avalara Founders Scott McFarlane and Rory Rawlings

Xconomy’s Curt Woodward wrote a story today covering Avalara’s stance in the internet sales tax landscape:

After a year of epic battles with politicians and brick-and-mortar competitors, Amazon.com has made sales-tax policy a relatively sexy topic in the business world. But another Seattle-area technology company has been working for years to navigate complex sales tax systems—and it’s growing like a weed.

The story touches on Avalara’s unique geolocation technology, and Avalara’s unique company culture:

Even though their particular island is of the more frigid San Juan variety, the company embraces a pretty lighthearted culture that counters the potentially dry subject of sales tax policy… when we met recently at the company’s Seattle office, CEO Scott McFarlane’s shirt stripes, watch face, and laptop skin were all being employed to display Avalara’s signature bright-orange color scheme.

It’s not all Hawaiian shirts and orange decor in the article, however:

There are about 11,000 different taxing districts in the U.S. alone, with overlapping boundaries, shifting rates, and long lists of exemptions. Selling the same item to two homes in the same neighborhood could actually mean charging two different amounts for sales tax, if they’re on opposite sides of a tax boundary. And retailers are deputized as the tax collectors, taking in all the revenue up front and sending the government its cut.

Calculating sales tax is complex — and so is writing about it. But Curt Woodward does a nice job summing up the business challenges of sales tax. The Pacific Northwest is lucky to have this writer and Xconomy covering the technology industry here locally.

Go read the article.