As every motor fuels tax analyst knows, filing taxes is an exercise in managing complexity in the face of immovable dates. If you’re filing several returns across multiple jurisdictions, simply managing the dates for all the returns can be challenging. For a single reporting period, you need to collect transaction data; assign transactions to schedules; complete the return forms; conduct any necessary internal reviews; collect any required approvals; generate e-filing documents; process payment for taxes due; and submit the return to the jurisdiction. Each step must proceed on schedule if the return is to be submitted on time. And of course, the dates associated with each of these process steps will vary by return.

Many of our customers have attempted to manage this complexity using spreadsheets and simple desktop calendaring tools. While these tools may provide date awareness, they add management complexity and lack the tracking, escalation, and tax system integration capabilities necessary to ensure on-time filing. And that leads to tremendous opportunity for late returns, which in the best case will require filing for extensions, and in the worst can result in fines and penalties.

That’s why we recently added an integrated tax filing calendar to Avalara Returns Excise Enterprise. The tax filing calendar allows you to define key dates associated with each return – dates such as create-by, review-by, internal-completion, and jurisdiction due date. The dates mandated by a jurisdictional tax law – such as the return due date – are built into the system. Others can be automatically created through configurable rules, like “final approval date is one week prior to the jurisdiction due date.”

Once the dates are defined, the tax filing calendar provides at-a-glance status visibility so that tax managers and analysts know exactly what filing activities have been completed or not completed, and what key dates are upcoming for any jurisdiction and return. In this way, the entire filing process can be managed and measured to internal and external deadlines associated with each return, ensuring on-time filing and compliance with internal business controls.

Some of the neat features of the tax filing calendar are:

  • Calendar view – Presents a calendar-based view of tasks and due dates, providing visibility into filing status of returns across jurisdictions.
  • Event management – Enables events and related information to be created, scheduled, modified, and tracked through the filing process.
  • Custom event definition – Allows tailoring of calendar events to your unique business requirements using custom fields and status values.
  • Automated tax calendar creation – Creates calendar events and associated tax sessions automatically for each filing period of a return.
  • Return-based events – Handles events that are relative to key dates for the return. For example, “3 days before the jurisdictional due date of the return.”

As you can see, the tax filing calendar is quite powerful. And best of all, it’s tightly integrated into Returns Excise so that it can do intelligent things like create tax sessions automatically at the beginning of each filing period, or provide status on whether a return has been successfully generated for the current period. With the tax filing calendar, Return Excise customers have yet another tool at their disposal to ensure their tax returns are filed on-time and processed efficiently and in accordance with internal business controls.