Customer case study

TaxOps embraces sales tax automation

“It’s better to gain efficiency and expand the scope of services. Be curious, understand the nuances, and always learn. It delivers a better client experience, and it’s more fun.”

– Judy Vorndran, CPA, Esq. Owner, TaxOps


Tax challenges

  • Sales tax complexity increasing
  • Compliance requires expert scrutiny
  • Tax exposure constantly changing

Results

  • Avalara Tax Compliance Suite’s 700 pre-built integrations provide easier sales tax automation 
  • Automating sales tax frees up resources
  • Tax compliance confidence

Boutique firm grows customer value by outsourcing sales tax operations

South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. changed the rules on sales tax, making keeping up with rapid fire changes in rates, rules, and laws challenging for all businesses. In Colorado, the challenge to streamline the tax regime has positioned the state at the bottom of the 2018 Council on State Taxation Scorecard on the State’s Sales Tax Systems. 

From its base in Colorado, Judy Vorndran of TaxOps has built a thriving state and local tax (SALT) specialty business consulting practice serving companies across the U.S. and beyond. While all of the firm’s clients have capable finance departments, few of them have the specific expertise needed to ensure the tax compliance, minimization, and planning that is essential to growth-oriented businesses. 

The highly specialized nature of the firm’s SALT practice balances the strategic and tactical in a way that fosters a close relationship with clients. Judy and her team pride themselves on going deep on SALT — everything from nexus and taxability studies to apportionment analysis, audit assistance, and sales tax automation — which can only come from decades of combined experience. 

SALT compliance is a source of potential risk for just about every business, and the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision has raised the stakes.“ Businesses are the government’s invoicing system,” says Judy. “Tax calculation needs to be done with fidelity and integrity or somebody gets in trouble. After Wayfair, nobody knows how to easily identify what their liabilities are.”

Embracing automation

There are as many state tax collection systems as there are states, and each one has its own idiosyncrasies. Tracking compliance requirements — which are changing all the time — across multiple states can be overwhelming. 

“It’s problematic to have to know all that,” Judy explains. “For example, Colorado has a combination of close to 900 statutory cities and counties for sales tax collection. If you were to select all of them, you’d be wrong. There’s a lot of minutiae — different kinds of licenses based on the flow of transactions that many clients don’t understand. We help them make the right selections for their nexus within the Avalara console.”

Judy and her TaxOps team are vigorous proponents of sales tax automation for their clients. “If they need to collect taxes in a lot of places, they’re not going to do that themselves,” she explains. “I say, let’s solve the problem with a solution that’s incredibly affordable and effective. That’s where Avalara comes in.”

The Avalara Tax Compliance Suite is comprised of: 

  • AvaTax, for accurate tax calculation
  • CertCapture, for collection, storage, management, and renewal of exemption certificates
  • Avalara Returns, to prepare and file tax returns automatically

“I usually recommend the full suite, and then we help manage it,” says Judy. “We get access to our clients’ Avalara console, and we insure decisions get made correctly.” 

A major selling point for Judy is Avalara’s connectors — meaning the Suite’s hundreds of prebuilt integrations with other software such as ERP and G/L systems, and state tax portals . “With Avalara, you get automated, set up nexus and pick jurisdictions, pick rules based on your business, it integrates with your systems and the correct tax shows up on the invoice. You collect i t, the reporting goes into Avalara so the client knows where to remit it, and those records can be pulled for an audit.”

In addition to the obvious risk-mitigation benefit, Judy estimates that getting her clients automated with Avalara saves them at least a day in processing time for each jurisdiction. “I remember doing a bid for a multinational restaurant chain with 76 entities,” she elaborates. “They had several people working around the clock for three weeks every month to file their sales tax returns.”

Adopting a growth mindset

Automating sales tax for clients has a compelling benefit for TaxOps. Judy indicates, “Avalara liberates us to focus on the more strategic aspects of our practice. The way you make money is by providing value to customers and knowing and solving the issues. By embracing automation, you can free up resources to enhance the higher-margin aspects of your practice. When something changes, we have work to do. It’s way more interesting, and it enriches your experience and your relationship with your clients.” 

Judy admits that most CPA firms would have to embrace a new way of thinking about their businesses in order to adopt this approach. “It’s a culture change,” she says. “It’s better to gain efficiency and expand the scope of services. Be curious, understand the nuances, and always learn .  It delivers a better client experience, and it’s more fun.”


Avalara Sales Tax Compliance Suite

Avalara supports quick deployment by providing over 700 pre-built integrations to business applications.

Avalara AvaTax

Delivers sales tax calculations to your shopping cart or invoicing system, and aggregates your transaction data so you can calculate what you owe in Returns.

Avalara Returns

A filing service so seamless you’ll barely lift a finger -- Returns pulls your data from AvaTax to prepare and file your returns. If you choose, we can even remit payments for you.

Avalara CertCapture

A seriously upgraded way to manage tax documents in the cloud for tidy, audit-ready records. Syncs with AvaTax to automatically apply exemptions at checkout.

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