Customer story

Cram-A-Lot crushes sales tax

Results

Flexible implementation
Increased compliance
Improved processes

Company overview


Customer
Cram-A-Lot

Industry
Manufacturing 

Based in Springdale, Arkansas, Cram-A-Lot helps some of the largest businesses in the world manage their waste and recycling programs at the lowest possible cost. When this growing manufacturer of compactors and balers needed to reduce a burdensome tax workload, they turned to Avalara.

Tax challenges


Cram-A-Lot was required to file in 45 states, creating a burdensome monthly sales tax workload for the finance team. CFO Jim Stuckey estimates that one member of his department typically spent three weeks each month preparing and filing up to 70 sales tax returns while other responsibilities were left unattended.

To complicate matters even further, Cram-A-Lot’s former tax automation vendor sent quarterly rate updates on a CD. IT personnel had to update the company’s internal database with the “new” rates. According to Jim, “you might find out six months down the road that you were charging the wrong rate.” This put the business at risk. In one case, a state auditor charged back taxes of $20,000, not including interest and penalties. 

The burden of calculating taxes slowed down the sales team as well. A salesperson trying to provide a quote might call in to check taxability on 30 different line items, each of which had to be individually researched, slowing revenue and potentially risking the sale. 

In addition to return, rate update, and sales woes, Cram-A-Lot used the “shoebox method” to collect and store customers’ exemption certificates. Keeping certificates updated and accessible in the event of an audit proved impossible.

Why Avalara?


Cram-A-Lot identified three must-haves for a new sales tax automation system:

  • Real-time tax rates
  • The ability to customize for items with special taxing rules
  • Easy integration with Infor SyteLine (now CloudSuite Industrial)

Avalara’s sales tax solution quickly emerged as the best choice. Because AvaTax is delivered as a cloud service, Cram-A-Lot applies continuously updated tax rules and rates to each line item when the transaction happens. 

Transaction tax data from AvaTax is provided to Avalara Returns, which automates filing in every jurisdiction. Now, instead of paying each jurisdiction individually, Cram-A-Lot makes a single ACH payment to a secured account, and Avalara Returns takes care of the individual returns and payments.

Customer
Cram-A-Lot

Industry
Manufacturing

Tax type
Sales and use

Integration
Infor CloudSuite Industrial, SAP-ECC

Tax challenges

  • Company growth
  • Tax complexity
  • Process inefficiency

Products used

Avalara AvaTax
Dynamically delivers sales and use tax calculations, based on the latest rules and rates in our tax engine, to a shopping cart or invoicing system at the time of purchase.

Avalara CertCapture
A highly scalable solution to securely collect, store, and manage tax documents in the cloud and automate exemptions at checkout.

Avalara Returns
Automatically gathers data from AvaTax to prepare and file sales and use tax returns and remit payments across multiple jurisdictions every filing cycle.


Benefits

  • Flexible implementation
  • Confident compliance
  • More efficient filing
  • Adding states with ease

“With Avalara, there’s a night and day difference in our sales tax audit preparedness.”

Jim Stuckey
CFO

“With Avalara, there’s a night and day difference in our sales tax audit preparedness.”

Jim Stuckey
CFO

Results


Cram-A-Lot has enjoyed multiple benefits. The tax workload has been dramatically reduced, saving the team three person-weeks each month. At the same time, the accuracy of tax calculations has significantly improved.

Improved compliance in the cloud
Moving from an on-premises system to a cloud-based solution has reduced the amount of system maintenance required. “As long as the internet is up, we’re in business,” explains Shaun Swearingen, who runs information systems for Cram-A-Lot. “Initially we were concerned about latency being a factor in a cloud solution, but that hasn’t been an issue.” 

A better process in place
Cram-A-Lot now manages exemptions with ease. Certificates are stored in the cloud and are searchable by line item if required in an audit. Customers are automatically notified when an exemption certificate is about to expire and they can provide the new certificate using a web form. And there’s no need for sales to wait on manual tax research to provide a quote, so the sales process is accelerated.

Ready for auditors
Perhaps most importantly, the amount of energy spent preparing for and participating in audits has been greatly reduced. “We have a list of what they’ll want to see in advance,” Jim says, “and we’re ready when they get here.” Audits go faster and smoother, with penalties all but eliminated. 

“Preparing financial statements, providing financial analysis, running the department … these are all things that had been put on hold for sales tax,” says Jim. With Avalara, “it’s a night and day difference.”

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