When it comes to sales and use tax compliance in an Omni-Channel Marketplace (OCM), there are risks to avoid and opportunities to seize. For CRUSH 2016, Avalara’s national tax compliance conference, May 9-11 in New Orleans, we sat down with one of the conference speakers, Rachel A. Le Mieux, a partner with Peterson Sullivan, LLP. Rachel discussed the highlights of her session, benefits and strategies of an OCM, and what she is most looking forward to at the conference.
Avalara: The title for your session at CRUSH 2016 is “Strategies for Compliance in an Omni-Channel Marketplace.” What is an OCM all about?
RLM: First, you have to understand that an OCM is customer driven and all about making the shopping experience as easy as possible with the ability to use multiple mobile devices to shop anytime, anywhere. An OCM also creates a turnkey customer experience where you can browse in-person, buy online and return in-store, while providing opportunities for sellers to collect and use data on customer buying habits.
Avalara: What are three concepts you hope CRUSH attendees better understand after attending your session?
Rachel A. Le Mieux: I want attendees to see how selling in an OCM can potentially increase their nexus footprint, as well as understand that technology is constantly evolving and changing the way customers purchase goods and services. I also want them to see the bigger picture when it comes to avoiding risks. There are approximately 12,000 taxing jurisdictions in the United States, and it doesn’t matter how large or small your business is; the continued use of manual compliance practices creates risks and the potential for large audit assessments. Automation is the key to reducing human error in sales/use tax calculations.
Avalara: What are some of the important strategies you like to use when it comes to dealing with multiple sales channels and technology for sales/use tax compliance?
RLM: Key to this is to create a strategy for dealing with the potential for multiple payment types, such as gift cards, coupon codes, credit cards, reward programs and good, old-fashioned cash. Also, based on various state tax laws, you have to ensure your tax rate calculations are correct, and you also must make sure your technology allows you to track the potential for unclaimed property.
Avalara: How has technology impacted sales/use tax compliance?
RLM: Simply put, technology may create a lower cost and a more efficient way to collect and remit the proper amount of tax. Technology makes possible the ability to integrate different applications to track the location of your inventory, where your product is being shipped, how your product is being paid for, whether your product or customer is exempt from tax, and whether you’re even required to collect sales/use tax.
Avalara: What are you looking forward to most at CRUSH?
RLM: Meeting new people and exploring New Orleans for the first time in my adult life.
Join Rachel A. Le Mieux for her session, “Strategies for Compliance in an Omni-Channel Marketplace,” on May 11. For more information on CRUSH 2016, visit our website that includes all conference sessions, speaker bios and location information.