Add sales tax compliance referrals to your practice’s revenue strategy

If there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. That’s certainly true when it comes to taxes. Rates, rules, treaties, and industry norms all shift throughout the year, putting accountants in a perpetual state of catch-up. 

Meanwhile, recession-spooked businesses are looking for ways to maximize revenue-generation from accounting staff. As such, accounting practices are being tapped to handle more and more services. The ability to cater to a broader range of your clients’ needs can set you apart from the competition.

Many practices are concerned about meeting increasing client demands, especially in light of the chronic shortage of tax professionals. One simple solution to serving clients beyond the parameters of your firm’s capabilities is a robust referral program.

Read on to learn more about:

The types of financial services clients are asking for

Accounting practices are well-versed in managing business taxes, financial records, and other bread-and-butter services.

But as commerce evolves, tax and regulatory compliance become more time-consuming, complex, and error-prone. Businesses are more commonly turning to outside accountants with niche expertise for a variety of challenges.

Client advisory services

With client advisory services (CAS), there are compelling benefits for both sides of the business relationship:

  • Clients work with professionals who understand the intricacies of their operations, customers, and financial details without having to dedicate full-time staff to those processes.

  • Accounting practices can build a lucrative business line based on better serving their clients’ needs. When CAS is done right, the close nature of the relationship can result in lower client turnover.

Tax compliance

Sales tax, VAT, GST, and import taxes are all complicated beasts in their own right. They’re also crucial for businesses to manage correctly. At a minimum, errors can upset customers, hurting the bottom line. Worst case scenario, noncompliance can result in steep fines, penalties, revocation of trade privileges, or even jail time.

It’s no wonder businesses are turning to compliance experts to handle their taxes.

License management

For growing or diversified companies, business licensing presents a variety of challenges, including:

  • Obtaining licenses across jurisdictions with differing rules

  • Acquiring special licenses for specific products

  • Renewing licenses on time based on expirations or product changes

Because licensing is an ongoing issue, helping clients with the process can create a recurring revenue stream for your practice.

Tax research

Most small or midsize businesses just can’t afford to hire tax researchers. But because rules and regulations are changing all the time, they risk falling out of compliance without knowing it. That’s where you can come in.

An accounting practice that offers tax research services can:

  • Provide much-needed value in helping clients stay compliant

  • Keep up with the latest in tax legislation

  • Apply new knowledge to tax-related services across its client portfolio

How referrals can benefit your clients

If you see the value of offering these services, but can’t feasibly expand your staff or tech stack, referring your clients can be a great option.

Many practices form referral relationships to each other for specialized services. You can also refer your clients directly to a software solution like Avalara.

By automating compliance tasks in-house, your clients can benefit from improved accuracy, reduced error, and a single source of truth for tax- and compliance-related information across their sales channels.

And because Avalara is securely managed in the cloud, your clients can offer remote vendor access to your team, so you’re all working from the same page.

How referrals can benefit your practice

By providing referrals to trusted, secure third parties, you help your clients get the services they need without adding complexity for your staff. 

Referrals can also help you maintain your client roster. Without a trusted resource available to handle the services you don’t offer, your clients will need to find someone on their own. They could end up with a competitor that may siphon away the services you do perform.

Finally, the Avalara referral program pays commissions to referring practices. So rather than turning away business, you can incorporate referred services into your revenue stream.

Helping your clients with automation

While death and taxes are rumored to be the only constants, it’s safe to say tax compliance complexity could easily be added to that list. 

Cross-border commerce is growing in importance for businesses of all sizes. But selling in markets abroad adds a layer of complicated international trade requirements.

Even domestically, things aren’t exactly simple. State legislatures don’t want to give up taxation autonomy and it’s hard to envision a single sales tax system being implemented in our lifetime.

Which means businesses without sufficient financial staff will be leaning on their accounting partners for the foreseeable future. Whether you choose to offer sales tax compliance services in-house or create a robust referral program, it’s important to have on-hand solutions for your clients — ideally a solution that creates or maintains revenue for your business.

 

This post was updated September 19, 2023.

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