Growing globally with landed cost automation

Sales tax in the United States is complex, but because Americans are raised with it, the thousands of jurisdictions and special taxes seem to make (at least a kind of) sense.  As soon as a company starts making overseas exports, the level of complexity increases significantly — especially because many other countries use tariff and import fee types that are unheard of in the United States.


Every nation sets its import tariff and duty rates based on its own unique circumstances.  In general, less developed countries have higher tariff rates than more developed ones, and seven of the 10 countries with the highest harmonized tariff rates are located in the relatively-undeveloped area of sub-Saharan Africa.


In developing and developed nations alike, high import fees are sometimes charged on specific goods as a protectionist policy, in order to boost domestic industry.  In others, import fees are charged on items perceived as luxury goods, or which are seen as having significant social impact (such as cars).


No matter what goods you’re exporting, selling to a new country for the first time can present unforeseen compliance challenges.  Value added tax (VAT), goods and services tax (GST), and import duties or special tariffs can all add significant cost to transnational transactions.  When all of these costs are added together to make a total cost for a good shipped overseas, the total sum is called the landed cost.


When businesses try to manually calculate the landed cost of their shipments, it’s easy to forget one or more components — especially when shipping to unfamiliar countries.  Even if you remember everything, using outdated information or making a mistake about a jurisdictional border could mean problems at customs clearance, extra charges to your customer, or a chunk eaten out of your profit margins.


At Avalara, we’re always seeking out a new way to make tax compliance easier. This year, we’ve made it easier than ever to start exporting while maintaining full compliance.  With Avalara LandedCost, cloud-based automation of landed cost calculation is a click away.  This state-of-the-art calculation solution gets rid of surprises at customs, keeping customer satisfaction and profits high.


Don’t let worries about customs and tax compliance keep your business from growing.  Learn more about export compliance with our white paper: Grow Global: 5 Reasons to Automate Landed Cost Calculation.



The fine art of sales tax — and vice versa

In 2015, fine art sales amounted to a whopping $63.8 billion.  While this is nearly 5 billion dollars less than the art market’s all-time high in 2014, visual art is still a big business.


Art sales pose interesting problems for sales taxation.  Some of those problems boil down to that most eternal of questions: what, precisely, is art?  Is it just a painting? Or is it an investment?


In the United States, sales tax is only charged to the end user of a product, not wholesalers or retailers.  If you buy a Picasso to hang on your wall for all to see, the artwork is clearly tangible personal property, and you’re the end user — that means you’re on the hook for sales tax on the total purchase price.


But what about if you bought the artwork as an investment, planning to sell it again?  The answer depends on how soon you want to sell it and what you do with it in the meantime.  If you purchase the art for immediate resale and put it on the market very soon after your purchase, you can avoid sales tax, as you are not the end user.  In order to do this, you’ll have to obtain a reseller certificate and show it to the seller to avoid paying the tax.


However, let’s say you have every intent of reselling your brand new painting — when the market looks better.  In the meantime, you plan to hang it up.  What happens, then?  The answer is that you still have to pay sales tax: any personal use of a work of art, even if accompanied by a later resale, qualifies as taxable.


Don’t just take our word for it: the state of New York has been cracking down recently on phony “resellers” who don’t really qualify for sales tax exempt purchases.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, announcing settlements totaling $7.2 million pertaining to art sales and use tax violations, says: “Art buyers may not avoid sales or use tax simply by claiming that artwork they enjoy at home is intended for resale. That rule is clear, and my office is committed to ensuring the art industry follows it.”


Big ticket prices make buyers want to call themselves “resellers,” but they also attract the attention of the tax authorities.  According to the state of New York, you need evidence that you’re a bona fide reseller or investor: records of frequent sales, maintaining a separate place of business, or advertising your gallery could all be used to show that a tax-free purchase was not an abuse of tax law.


The basic rule? The only way art purchases qualify for reseller exemptions is when they’re exclusively intended for resale, not display.


If the state finds out you’re using an exemption certificate illegally, you’ll be on the hook for the amount of the tax liability — and double the amount, plus a punishing 14.5% interest rate, if the state considers the tax avoidance to be deliberate fraud.


Art may be subjective, but sales tax is not. There’s real value in knowing the rules. For compliance tips, check out Avalara’s Sales Tax Survival Guide.




More states dare to mess with nexus

24 billion. That’s the amount of uncollected sales tax from ecommerce retail sales at last count. Those billions of dollars are a powerful motivator for U.S. states who are collectively facing $19 billion in budget shortfalls over the next 18 months. As states get more concerned (and creative) about revenue sources, they’re turning their attention to nexus.


Sales tax nexus is defined as a seller having a “sufficient physical presence” in a state to make them liable to register in that state to collect and remit sales and use tax. Over the years, this presence has broadened to include activities such as employing remote staff, attending trade shows, warehousing inventory or using drop shippers or third-party fulfillment.  More recently, states have extended their reach further through click-through nexus and affiliate nexus laws aimed at remote sellers.


But it’s not enough. As ecommerce continues to gain momentum, a once-monumental court decision (Quill v. South Dakota) that established boundaries for nexus is fading into obscurity. Despite multiple attempts to pass internet sales tax legislation, federal government leaders remain at loggerheads on the topic. Tired of waiting, states are taking action. In recent months, several states independently put forth more than 40 bills to challenge Quill.


The states’ problem: the sales tax base is eroding

As many as 17 states are projecting budget deficits over the next year. Rather than raise sales tax rates, some states, including Alabama, South Dakota and Vermont, see economic nexus as the answer. Unlike more traditional nexus guidelines, economic nexus is based solely on sales revenue or transaction volume.


Ohio started imposing economic nexus for sales and use tax in 2005, requiring companies with $500,000 or greater in sales to collect and remit tax to the state. Michigan does the same for $350,000 or more in receipts. Washington has a similar law and other states are following suit. Currently, there are 28 bills pending in 13 states related to economic nexus for sales and use tax.


The thresholds of economic nexus can be quite low. In South Dakota for example, $100,000 in annual sales or 200 separate transactions (of any dollar value) give a company economic nexus in the state. Alabama’s threshold is higher ($250,000), but includes a provision for intent to conduct business through advertising.


In effect, these laws give businesses nexus even without any physical connection with the state.


The sellers’ problem: multi-state compliance

What does these mean for sellers? Bigger compliance headaches, for one. Businesses with multi-state nexus are already burdened with having to ensure point of sale, ecommerce systems, and shopping carts are set up to calculate the correct tax in each state and jurisdiction in which they are obligated to register and collect sales tax. With economic nexus, this becomes even more cumbersome, as many businesses will now have nexus in states where they previously did not under a physical presence standard. And if states are being this aggressive about passing new nexus laws, you can bet they’ll be equally aggressive about enforcing them (read: more audits).


Having to comply with economic nexus laws could quickly push businesses beyond the threshold of managing sales tax manually. Learn more about the burdens of economic nexus — and why switching to an automated solution is a more viable (and reliable) strategy — in this short, informative video.




10 business events that could signal it’s time to automate sales tax

The biggest barrier to companies automating sales tax is often inertia. Without a shake-up of the status quo, the de facto response is “why change?” or “I’ll get to it later.” It typically takes something significant to get people to pull the trigger on sales tax automation.


Here are 10 common “events” that could signal it’s time to make a change when it comes to how you manage your sales tax.

  1. Growth. More resources, more market share, more customers, more revenue…. More is good, right? Yes. But growing a business can also mean more obligations to collect and remit sales tax. Expanding into new states, either physically or operationally (wider distribution, ecommerce sales or geographically dispersed customers) can quickly create additional tax complexity and compliance burdens. If international markets are on your growth plan, then you’re also looking at value-added tax (VAT) and landed costs and the management of those taxes on top of U.S. sales and use tax.
  2. Financing. When a funding event happens — be it private or institutional, an IPO, or even an exit strategy — investors will be laser-focused on your business, finances and compliance practices. Most companies don’t realize that how you manage tax, including sales tax, can impact valuation. Discovery of unfavorable audit outcomes or mismanaged sales and use tax can kill a deal. You may also be subject to new tax rules depending on how you plan to use that funding. Hiring, product development, expansion — all of these growth activities can change or add to your sales and use tax compliance requirements. Be sure you’re doing everything right now so you avoid surprises later.
  3. Acquisition and mergers: The strategic decision to acquire or merge with another company may be obvious, but the process is typically less elegant. The meshing together of people, assets, systems and processes is often lengthy and complicated. Who has time for the minutia of sales tax? Not finance and IT; they’re focused elsewhere. Yet, many of the motivators for acquiring a business — more market share, a broader product mix, even physical property — are common tax liability triggers. No matter how inconsequential tax compliance may seem during a merger, it should not be overlooked.
  4. Key Hires: A new CFO or controller will likely want to dive deep into how you currently handle compliance and may even have some good ideas on how to better operationalize and optimize the business. This could mean re-evaluating your financial systems and filling any gaps by onboarding new solutions, like sales tax automation, that can advance these objectives.
  5. New products or services. For most sellers, adding another item or brand to the mix isn’t a big deal. But taxability can become an issue for businesses making more wide-sweeping changes. For example, a software company that decides to sell digital downloads in addition to CDs, a furniture company that adds installation and delivery services, or a cosmetics and beauty supply company that branches out to include a line of nutritional supplements and health drinks — all of these new products or services can have vastly different taxability rules and rates from state to state.
  6. New sales channels. Deciding to sell through more or different channels can also add to your sales tax burden. For example, manufacturers or suppliers who sell direct to consumers, or traditional retailers who branch out into ecommerce, may quickly find that they now have multi-state nexus (an obligation to register and collect sales tax in states) based on these new channel sales activities. Subscription-based, SaaS delivery, and multi-level selling models also come with their own sales tax headaches. Any news sales strategy carries some risks. Sales tax shouldn’t be one of them.
  7. Technology platform changes: As your business grows, your technology platform and functionality needs will evolve as well. Software and SaaS solutions that integrate with ERP, ecommerce systems and accounting systems can add value without being cost prohibitive. Talk to your providers about available add-ons, like Avalara AvaTax tax compliance software, which can help you scale operations and grow more efficiently.
  8. Attrition. It’s never fun to cut back, but doing more with less is a legitimate strategy. In the past, this often meant overburdening staff with extra work or outsourcing taxes and other burdensome activities to bookkeepers or accountants. Today, reliable, affordable SaaS providers, like Avalara, can automate these processes for you. Avalara AvaTax handles all areas of tax compliance (calculation, filing, reporting) and scales to the needs of your business now, when things are tight, and later, when you’re ready to grow again.
  9. Audit. While a sales tax audit is never definite, there’s also no guarantee that you won’t be audited. If you haven’t been through one, it’s hard to know what to expect or how much time it will take to prove you’re doing sales tax right (or that you aren’t). Either way, audits are costly. Wakefield estimates that the average audit costs a company $114,000. If you have been through an audit and it didn’t go well, you’ll likely stay on state auditors radars and will be subject to repeated scrutiny. As they say, the best defense is a good offense. Not only do AvaTax customers pass audits without penalty 50% more often than companies that don’t automate sales tax, but Avalara even offers a 100% audit accuracy guarantee.
  10. Regulatory changes: Many states are making wide-sweeping changes in how they tax products and services as a means to generate more sales tax revenue. For example, last year 11 states considered changing their tax laws to start taxing services in addition to goods — something that 18 other states already do. And this year, 17 states are considering changing their nexus laws or introducing new economic nexus thresholds. Often, these changes are done last minute or with minimal notice, so it’s not always easy to know when they happen or how they affect you. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a sales tax holiday can be significant if you’re not prepared.


It’s highly likely that your company will undergo one or more of these “trigger events” in the near future. So why wait? Avalara AvaTax software integrates into your billing systems now so that when the inevitable happens, you’re already ahead of the game.


For a more personal view of how these events impacted leading companies and why they decided to change how they manage tax compliance, download Competitive Advantages of Sales Tax Automation, a look at how industry leaders use tax automation technology to optimize their business.




Hosting Solutions by Because Certified Engineers Make All the Difference! is a leader in hosting solutions for many different reasons. The least of which is the fact that the engineers that clients will reach if they have a question are all technically certified and trained on every Sage product. In addition to providing outstanding Sage hosting they are also an Intuit certified QuickBooks Hosting partner.

This puts miles ahead of their competition. Most Sage customers and partners choose over all other hosting companies because of their certified engineers, 99.99% uptime, dedicated servers, server redundancy, Mac, Droid, and iPhone Support, 15 days retained backups, 256 encrypted secured login, and much more.

But, why take just their word for it, when you can hear it straight from the customers’ mouth! Glowing testimonials are one method for determining the success of a company, judge for yourself from the testimonials:

We signed up for your hosting service a few months back and it works better than expected. We were concerned with the speed of the connection but it works much quicker than our old internal system. is the perfect solution for companies with employees at multiple locations or with employees on the go. Being able to log-in from any computer, anywhere is a necessity in today’s business environment.

—Alex Taylor, General Manager Tube Enterprises / Integrity Medical Solutions

The team takes great care of our clients. They are responsive, helpful, and most importantly, patient with our QuickBooks users. The platform has great speed, dependability and reliability. Adams QB, Inc. strongly recommends for QuickBooks hosting.

—Marjorie Adams Adams QB, Inc. is dedicated to hosting Sage clients, as well as their many other products. They are proud of their certified and trained engineers, and encourage any business to call them with any questions they might have about why they should switch hosting providers to

SoftwareLink Provides Multiple Industry Solutions

As a leading partner for SAGE software, SoftwareLink provides solutions nationwide to multiple industries. Whether your industry is accounting and financial, distribution, or manufacturing, SAGE software can help you optimize every facet of your business. And SoftwareLink helps get you there because since 1996, they have been assisting their clients with multiple avenues and strategies for processes, as well as providing solutions that will help business owners better manage their business needs.

Benefits to the Wholesale Distributing Industry:

  • Global companies can manage multiple currencies, languages and legislations.
  • Manage inventory allocation routines, and automate landed costs.
  • Improved warehouse management capabilities.
  • Promotion management and sophisticated pricing.
  • CRM (Customer relationship management).
  • Logistics.
  • Enhanced after-sales service.
  • Availability of third party software solutions for data collection; shipping software to reduce costs and track shipments, as well as automating customer shipment notifications.

Benefits to the Manufacturing Industry:

  • Manage financials and scheduling.
  • Maintain quality control.
  • Increase productivity & enhance customer service.
  • Better manage supply & demand to reduce inventory carrying costs.
  • CRM (customer relationship management).
  • Global companies can manage different currencies, etc.
  • Streamline and enhance procurement, manufacturing & customer management processes.
  • Work together with the entirety of your supply chain partners, suppliers, and customers.

Benefits to the Accounting/Financial Industry:

  • Depending on the SAGE solution purchased, choose between simple accounting, complete accounting, and managing your entire business.
  • Simple accounting includes easy online accounting, accepting online payments & simple invoicing.
  • Complete accounting includes payroll processing and tax updates, inventory and job management, and accounting and business management.
  • Managing your entire business includes on-premise and cloud options, industry-specific solutions and advanced enterprise resource planning.

Whether you choose Sage 100 for smaller businesses or Sage X3, SoftwareLink provides best practices and processes that overwhelmingly meet the client’s business management needs. Their staff is fully certified so that whenever you, the client, have a question or problem, they can help immediately. The staff also has real-world industry knowledge that will only add to your SoftwareLink experience. Contact them today for more information on how you can better streamline and manage your company with SAGE software.

Reasons Your Company Needs to Implement Sage ERP Software

Once a certain level of productivity, traffic, and diversity is being reached within a company, it’s time to implement a software system that can handle everything all in one place, without disrupting current conditions and that will serve to enhance and streamline efficiency. Sage ERP software is perfect for many industries including pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and food and beverage.

Why should your company be using Sage ERP software?


  • Enhance your customer service capabilities. Customers don’t like to be kept waiting, and when you have Sage ERP at your fingertips, they won’t have to. You’ll have faster and more accurate access to customer history and information, giving you the customer service advantage.
  • Become more efficient. With a Sage ERP solution, there’s no need to manually enter data, which eliminates these and other repetitive processes. A Sage ERP solution also makes it easier for companies to collect data and create custom reports.
  • Information is all in one spot. No more rifling through different databases to find separate pieces of information. When you implement a Sage ERP solution, you have all of the information you need in one single location, plus it is always kept up-to-date.
  • The ability to increase your security. You can put certain restrictions in place to improve security, plus, installing a new system improves the security, consistency, and accuracy of all of the data.
  • Improve your reporting capabilities. With Sage ERP software, now when data requests come in they can be responded to more accurately and easily. Also, IT won’t need to be relied upon, freeing them up for other tasks.

Why Software Link?

A business application and consulting company for the past 20 years, Software Link has been providing our clients with innovative strategies, processes and solutions to help them manage their business needs. As a long-time Sage partner, Software Link offers our clients premier Sage Software Products including Sage X3, Sage 500, Sage 100 and Sage 50 to help manage a diverse number of industries.