Blockchain Series Part I: Origins of the Blockchain Buzz

By Henry H. Ngan, MBA, CPA

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Since an infamous white paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was published in October 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto (his or her identity has never been confirmed), it was the beginning of an era of Blockchain & Cryptocurrency.  I was often asked how Blockchain has gotten so much attention over the last 9 months or so.

In my opinion, what really got this whole Blockchain evolution started was the significant price appreciation of Bitcoin in 2017.  At the beginning of 2017, the price of Bitcoin started at around $1,000 (USD).  As the year went on, it went as high as around $20,000 and closed the year around $13,000 or so. Bear in mind that the majority of the gains happened in the second half, in particular 4Q17.  The chart below shows Bitcoin prices in 2017.

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Assuming you bought Bitcoin at the beginning of 2017 around $1,000, at it’s highest  around $20,000, that’s approximately a 20x or 2,000% return.  At the close of 2017 around $13,000, it would effectively net a 13x or 1,300% return.  With these kinds of extraordinary returns, that is what really got many people (both investors & speculators alike) excited about it.  Thus, it’s no surprise that many started looking into Bitcoin.  Individuals started researching Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrency to try and understand what this euphoria is about.  By then, some people might have realized that Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency are the digital assets/currencies (applications) and Blockchain is the underlying technology (foundational technology).  Another way to look at this is to think of Facebook, Google, and Amazon as the applications and the Internet as the foundational technology. In essence, it was the significant price gains of Bitcoin in 2017 that have many discovering Blockchain, and thus uncovering the potential and excitement of this new technology.

In future articles, we’ll continue to explore Blockchain as the foundational technology and it’s applications, and the potential impact on various industries.

Henry H. Ngan, MBA, CPA

E-mail: henry.ngan@hhncapital.com

Note: Certified in BlockchainTM  & CryptocurrencyTM

Dated: July 2018

Henry is a CPA in the state of New York and a Certfied Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Expert who graduated with his MBA from Fordham Gabelli School of Business and also studied at Columbia Business School. A speaker, lecturer and thought-leader, Henry considers himself a Blockchain Evangelist and is a FinTech expert. He is also fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

 For more on Henry Ngan’s professional background, please visit his LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/henry-h-ngan-mba-cpa-bb4b944/

 

 

Wayfair Sales Tax Nexus Ruling: What does it all mean?

Download or read the PDF here.

By Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA

Taxnologi Solutions, LLC – CEO/Principal

 

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As I am sure you know, the Supreme Court ruled on June 21, 2018 in favor of South Dakota which enacted a statute requiring out-of-state retailers to collect tax if that retailer has engaged in $100K in sales or 200 transactions in the state.

In retrospect, prior to the oral arguments in April, there seemed to be a strong sense in my professional circles that the Supreme Court had no other option than to overrule the “physical presence” requirement in Quill.  However, immediately following oral arguments, there was a swing in the pendulum of positions that perhaps the Court was going to “punt” and push the decision back to Congress.

Well, it was nail biter waiting on the final opinion, but the Supreme Court did decide by the narrowest of margins, 5-4, to overrule the longstanding rule of the land, Quill. As I read the opinion drafted by Justice Kennedy, I found myself highlighting sections, paragraphs, and interesting comparisons the way I did when I first read Quill in my Constitutional Law class in law school. Back then, however, my highlights were out of duty and the strong desire not to fail “Con Law”. This past week it was different. I had a true interest in connecting the dots, understanding the analysis, and relating back to what I had read in Quill over 20 years ago. Back in law school I had no idea that Quill would be part of the fundamental basis of my every day professional life in the state and local tax arena. It was probably 5 years after I had graduated from law school that the “light bulb” had finally turned on and I found an appreciation for what my law professor had been lecturing on in terms of “Due Process”, “Commerce Clause” and “stare decisis“.

And once again, these three concepts were cited throughout the opinion in Wayfair: Due Process – 14 times, Commerce Clause – 47 times and stare decisis – 14 times. However, I think what I found most surprising was Justice Kennedy’s strongly worded and recurrent suggestion that ruling in Quill was flawed and wrong. It highlighted that rejection of Quill’s physical presence standard is necessary to prevent the Court’s prior precedents from creating an “artificial competitive advantage”. The Opinion even went as far as to state that Quill had created a “sales tax loophole” and “judicially created tax shelter”. Wow!

I could go on and on about what I found most intriguing about the Opinion, but instead of boring you with my tax geekiness, I want to leave you with what I think this all means.

So here it goes:

1) Although many taxpayers (and practitioners) may beg to differ, I do believe that at the end of the day, the Court came out with the right decision. Why? Because for the last 5-10 years businesses have had zero clarity on what physical presence means on a state-to-state basis as concepts of click-thru, affiliate, marketplace, cookie, and economic nexus weaved and bobbed their way thru state tax rules, laws and court opinions.  Now, there is more clarity…not complete clarity, but more.

2) The ruling helps to level the playing field between in-state companies and out-of-state companies while also recognizing that small businesses need some degree of protection. I found that the fundamental concept of fairness to be prevalent throughout Kennedy’s Opinion. However, I still believe states will need to ensure that the burden of compliance is eased for smaller businesses through more standardized definitions and simpler reporting requirements.

3) We’ll need to wait and see whether:

  • Congress steps in to narrow the application of this new standard of “virtual presence”,
  • Notice & Reporting rules in states like WA, CO, PA and 7 other states will change, increase, or go away,
  • $100K or 200 transactions is the minimum, maximum or somewhere in the middle in terms of a “reasonable” threshold, and
  • 3rd party software or state administered solutions will sufficiently help ease the compliance burden for smaller companies.

As I’ve said to many of my clients this week that called and emailed with questions, the journey continues and let’s wait to see how the dust settles. Stay tuned!!

Tax News & Updates

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Exemption Certificate Management Tips: Analysis to Automation

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Check out the latest article by our CEO, Joni, on SalesTaxSupport.com!

Here’s an excerpt…

“Let’s start with a fundamental question that many start-up companies often ask me… Why do I need to collect exemption certificates – and how best to do that? Well – first things first …

What exactly is an exemption certificate?”

Click here to read the article!

 

To Exempt or Not Exempt: Tips on Exemption Certificate Management

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By Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA  – Taxnologi Solutions, LLC

To download the PDF version, click here.

Let’s start with a fundamental question that many start-up companies often ask me:  Why do I need to collect exemption certificates? 

Well let’s first explain what is an exemption certificate.  An exemption certificate is generally issued by a buyer to a seller that quite simply states “do not apply sales or use tax to my purchase”.  It can take many forms including

  1. Multistate Tax Commission Certificate of Exemption which can be issued for multiple states where a company has an exemption. You can find this certificate at: http://www.mtc.gov/Resources/Uniform-Sales-Use-Tax-Exemption-Certificate
  2. State issued form that includes a blanket exemption for all purchases, industry specific exemptions such as manufacturing, or special purpose such as an occasional sale or temporary storage.
  3. A letter which includes the purchaser’s company name, Federal Identification Number (FEIN #) or state registration identifier, description of the exemption claimed, and jurisdiction to which the exemption is claimed.

What happens if you do not collect exemption certificates?  Well, an auditor will potentially assess a deficiency under audit in most circumstances if you do not have record of a customer’s exemption for applicable charges for which you did not assess sales and use tax.  This assessment generally will include penalties and interest in addition to the tax due.  Also, consider that if you incorrectly failed to assess tax or collect an exemption certificate, more than likely you will have a difficult time later collecting the tax from the buyer or may lose a customer if you do pursue collection of the tax.

What can you do to effectively manage your sales and use tax audit exposure as related to customer exemptions?

  1. Understand your company’s sales cycle.  Often your sales folks have the best relationships with your customers and are the first point of contact.  Therefore, taking the time to understand how a sale is initiated, closed and posted is an important step to establishing a policy on how to handle exemption certificate requests and management. 
  2. Gather groups involved with customer engagement and initiation, account management, retention and invoicing.  These groups can include sales, accounting, operations, sales, and/or collections.  I suggest providing an overview of how sales and use taxes work and why gathering exemption certificates are important.
  3. Solicit feedback from your key groups.  Rather than independently directing that a certain group or groups are responsible for collecting the certificates, collaborate with key groups to establish where in the sales process gathering of exemption certificates best fits. Questions to consider:
    1. Should a customer be designated as exempt by the sales representative upon initiating a sale to a new customer and then communicated to the tax department? Or should another group like accounting or customer service be involved first?
    2. What should be the form of communication for an exempt customer and who is responsible for obtaining the certificate? 
    3. If a certificate has not been received by a customer claiming sales tax exemption, how will this affect customer account set-up or invoicing?  How will credits for exempt customer initially taxed for lack of exemption certificate on file be handled?  Does the Finance or Tax Department need to approve the credits?
  4. Finally, consider software tools available to help manage exemption certificates.  Some ERP systems have some tax exemption functionality but usually these systems are less robust than off-the-shelf exemption software packages.  If you have a third-party sales and use tax software like Vertex or AvaTax, verify if your license includes exemption certificate management.  Many of the exemption certificate management software packages can also be licensed as a stand-alone solution.

Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA, is the Founder/CEO of Taxnologi Solutions, LLC located in Aurora, CO.  She has worked for over 18 years in federal and multi-state tax income tax compliance and consulting, sales and use tax, tax automation, and property tax compliance.    Joni has a specialized skill set in the sales and use tax automation arena.  She has served as project lead on several integrations and tax conversions for large Fortune 100 companies.  In addition, she assists start-ups and online retailers maneuver the complexities of nexus, multi-state filings, and VAT responsibilities.

She has both industry and public accounting experience with Big Four firms and large national firms. She is a wife, mother of 4 and native of Colorado. Joni enjoys snowboarding and gardening in her free time.

The Changing World of Tax Technology

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By Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA- CEO/Principal Taxnologi Solutions LLC

As I look back on my career over the past 16+ years, not only have tax technology services changed but the accounting industry is much different place. I actually started off doing tax software implementations of telecom tax software which generally spanned at least a year from project kick-off to go-live. My counterparts in the “Sales tax” practice usually had a 3-6 month implementation timeframe with tax research and taxability determination set up. However, telecom tax had a much more detailed project scope and timeline because the complexity involved not only sales tax but a wide array of regulatory surcharges, 911 fees and other gross receipts taxes that could apply to a single charge. There were only a few software vendors to choose from but usually it was narrowed down to 1 or maybe 2 depending on price point, industry, and ERP system. Our team usually worked with IT consulting firms such as Bearing Point and Accenture to assist with the “technical” aspects of the projects such as API (“Application Program Interface”) development.

Fast forward to 2016, there are many more “tax software” players out there with solutions for all size companies and a wide range of industries. The role of the “tax consultant” has expanded significantly and includes more technical skills such as the ability to write SQL queries and in-depth knowledge of ERP systems. At the same time, integration timelines can be shorter in some respects with the increase of “plug and play” connectors that reduce the time needed for API development. Yet, sales tax has become a lot more complicated and issues of nexus, tax base expansions, new technology, and internet sales and services offerings have all created a ‘gray” area in indirect taxation. Not to mention the increased global footprint of businesses both big and small.

The good news is that all of this “change” is quite beneficial for the businesses that now must maneuver the obstacles of indirect taxes. Online start-ups and ecommerce businesses now have cost effective solutions available to help manage their compliance responsibilities with cloud based applications.   In addition, there’s a lot more industry specific content available for the food & beverage, manufacturing, construction and many more industries with unique rules.

All the choices in the market of tax software solutions and the ever-changing world of sales tax might seem momentous and overwhelming when it comes to finding a solution that is the right fit. However, with good planning, focused execution, and extensive online tax resources to help with your journey, your business can effectively and efficiently implement the right solution.

Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA, is the Founder/CEO of Taxnologi Solutions, LLC located in Aurora, CO.  She has worked for over 17 years in federal and multi-state tax income tax compliance and consulting, sales and use tax, tax automation, and property tax compliance.   Joni has a specialized skill set in the sales and use tax automation arena. She has served as project lead on several integrations and tax conversions for large Fortune 100 companies.

She has both industry and public accounting experience with Big 4 firms and large national firms. Joni worked for several years for Big Four accounting firms such as KPMG and Ernst & Young providing tax compliance and consulting services to clients in a variety of industries.  She is a wife, mother of 4 and native of Colorado. Joni enjoys snowboarding and gardening in her free time.

 

How to Assist Your Accounting Clients With Determining Nexus

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More and more in today’s ever changing digital economy, clients are challenged with running and growing their business while complying with tax rules that continually evolve and expand. In the state and local tax arena, I find that clients don’t know what they don’t know. This issue does not only impact small businesses and start-ups but also established companies.

Thus, the first step with assisting your clients with their multistate obligations is determining whether they have the obligation to file: Nexus. A client is deemed to have nexus where that client has “sufficient contacts” with the state or locale to succumb to the jurisdiction of the tax authority and obligation to collect and remit tax.

The challenge we face as practitioners, however, is that the definition of “sufficient contacts” set forth in the Quill case continues to expand and explaining this complicated landscape to a client is not easy. Thus, it is important to gather some fundamental information about the clients’ business as part of the initial analysis of nexus:

  1. Identify all states where the client has sales. Also, in states like AL, AK, AZ, CO, ID, IL, and LA, identify the local jurisdictions where your client makes sales as these places have some local registrations and reporting requirements.
  1. Identify all states where client has people. People includes sales, corporate or other employees. This information should also include any contractors or agents acting on company’s behalf. This area tends to trip up a number of companies as they assume that contractors will not create nexus.

In addition, in most states having agents such as dealers or other relationships where a third party is selling, servicing, repairing, or delivering your goods or services for a commission or fee will create nexus.

  1. Identify all states where the client has property. Property includes tangible, intangible, real property and inventory.   This property can be either owned, rented or offered on approval to consumers.
  1. Identify any related entities and activities between the companies. Find out whether the affiliate conducts any advertising or other services for or on behalf of your client in any states.

Many times clients assume that activities they engaged in throughout the various states are treated equally by all states for purposes of nexus. While many states adhere to the similar standards for nexus such as physical presence, economic, affiliate, and click-through nexus, the manner in which these standards are interpreted vary widely.

Thus, once you gather information related to your client’s activities, further analysis of the state or local rules is necessary to make a final determination of nexus. Here are some common activities that constitute nexus in various states:

  1. Physical presence in a state such as an office building, field office, or warehouse owned or rented by the company.
  2. Employees or contractors working in a state.
  3. Intangible and tangible property in a state including inventory and equipment owned or rented by the company.
  4. Having an affiliate in a state.
  5. Remote sellers with online links provided by residents in a state (i.e. click-through nexus).
  6. Software as a Service(SAAS), Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), or downloads by your customer in a particular state.

Keep in mind that these definitions and rules continue to evolve as does your client’s business. Accordingly, revisit your nexus analysis with your client periodically to ensure they stay in compliance with filing requirements.

Joni Johnson-Powe, JD, CPA, is the Founder/CEO of Taxnologi Solutions, LLC located in Aurora, CO. She has worked for over 17 years in federal and multi-state tax income tax compliance and consulting, sales and use tax, tax automation, and property tax compliance.   Joni has a specialized skill set in the sales and use tax automation arena. She has served as project lead on several integrations and tax conversions for large Fortune 100 companies.

She has both industry and public accounting experience with Big 4 firms and large national firms. Joni worked for several years for Big Four accounting firms such as KPMG and Ernst & Young providing tax compliance and consulting services to clients in a variety of industries.  She is a wife, mother of 4 and native of Colorado. Joni enjoys snowboarding and gardening in her free time.

 

2017 Mid-Year Sales Tax Changes

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2017 Mid-Year Sales Tax Changes

Repost from Avalara

Dealing with change is standard operating procedure for many companies: employees leave and are hired; new products are introduced and old ones phased out; there are booms, and there are busts. On top of all that, companies need to account for sales and use tax changes. Significant changes in rates, regulations, and product taxability often take effect July 1, which is the start of a new fiscal year in all but a few states.

At the end of 2016, we shared many of the sales tax changes set to occur January 1, 2017. These included state sales tax rate changes in California and New Jersey, the expansion of sales tax to certain services in North Carolina, the prohibition of taxing more services in Missouri, and a bevy of recently enacted soda taxes and tampon tax exemptions. At mid-year, we’re seeing a few propositions that signify a dramatic shift in online sales tax revenue.

 

States want to collect more tax revenue from remote sales

Perhaps the most notable trend of 2017 is states’ push to obtain tax revenue from remote sales. This isn’t new. States have been working to tax out-of-state sellers for years, but their efforts have been hampered by Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) — the landmark Supreme Court ruling that a state can only tax businesses physically located within its borders.

In recent years, states have found creative ways to work around the physical presence precedent upheld by Quill. They’re taxing businesses with ties to in-state affiliates and those that generate a certain amount of business through links on in-state websites (commonly known as click-through nexus). Increasingly, they’re also taxing companies with a certain amount of economic activity in the state (economic nexus). Unfortunately for states in need of additional sales tax revenue, these affiliate, click-through, and economic nexus laws are difficult for states to enforce.

Therefore, many states are looking to different and more aggressive approaches. Two methods in particular have been gaining steam this year: use tax notification and reporting requirements, and taxes on online marketplace providers such as Amazon and eBay.

 

Use tax notification and reporting requirements

Colorado paved the way for states to impose use tax notification and reporting requirements on non-collecting out-of-state sellers. After spending years stuck in court, its policy takes effect July 1 — the same date a similar policy starts in Puerto Rico. Vermont recently passed one and made it effective retroactively, on January 1, 2017. Other states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, are considering use tax notification and reporting measures.

Sending annual reports of consumer purchase activity to consumers and state tax authorities is more work for remote retailers, and Colorado and the other states could be using their policies as a back-door approach to getting out-of-state companies to register and collect. Even if companies choose to not take that route, use tax reporting should help states increase their use tax collections.

 

Taxing online marketplaces

Minnesota is the first state to enact a tax on marketplace providers. HF 1 will take effect at the earlier of July 1, 2019, or when the Supreme Court modifies its decision in Quill — though the effective date could change if Congress passes legislation allowing states to tax remote sales.

North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and a number of other states are also interested in taxing marketplace providers, and their efforts are likely to continue or resume as 2017 wanes. But not all agree it’s a good idea: New York lawmakers blocked Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to tax them earlier this year.

 

Congress could tackle online sales tax

Federal lawmakers are much preoccupied with tax reform and repealing or revamping the Affordable Care Act. Allowing states to tax remote sales transactions, or definitively preventing them from doing so, seems to be low on their list of priorities. However, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected from Washington, so a federal solution to the problem of untaxed remote sales should not be entirely ruled out.

Two bills have been introduced that would authorize states to tax certain interstate sales: the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017 and the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017.

A bill that would codify the physical presence standard set by Quill and further limit states’ ability to tax interstate sales has also been introduced: the No Representation Without Representation Act of 2017.

 

Other sales tax changes

Many of the trends seen at the start of the year are continuing as 2017 progresses. Florida has enacted a tampon tax exemption, Seattle a soda tax. Tennessee is lowering the state sales tax rate on food and food ingredients, there are calls to add a statewide sales tax in Alaska, and although he failed to achieve it this session, Governor Jim Justice has been pushing to raise the state sales tax rate in West Virginia. The taxation of services — including online music and movie streaming services — remains a hot and hotly contested topic. And, as always, a plethora of local sales tax rate changes take effect at the start of each new quarter.

Don’t be lulled into complacency during the dog days of summer: There’s a lot happening in the world of sales tax right now. Staying on top of these and other changes will allow you to prepare for them. Download Avalara’s 2017 Sales Tax Changes Mid-Year Update to learn more.

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What is your employee listening strategy?

What is your employee listening strategy?

Please download the PDF version here!

Excerpt taken from The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty

“To be listened to is, generally speaking, a nearly unique experience for most people. It is enormously stimulating. It is small wonder that people who have been demanding all their lives to be heard so often fall speechless when confronted with one who gravely agrees to lend an ear. Man clamors for the freedom to express himself and for knowing that he counts. But once offered these conditions, he becomes frightened”.— Robert C. Murphy


Believe it or not, your organization needs an employee listening strategy.

What do I mean by this?

Many organizations administer an annual employee engagement survey and then stop there. By doing just that, they miss the opportunity to truly listen to what their employees like or dislike about the organization, their manager, their role and more.

This also undermines the most valuable reason for listening: Action!

Here are some things to consider when crafting an employee listening strategy:

Why are you listening?

For organizations that administer employee engagement surveys annually, they often do not know why they are doing it. Is it just to say that your employees have a voice? Is it to tell employees that you “listen” to them frequently?

Why are you listening?

Is your employees’ happiness and satisfaction the end, or is there an underlying reason your organization wants to ask your employees questions annually?

Knowing the “why” behind any employee listening program is crucial, because then everything else can fall in line.

How will you listen?

There are a myriad of ways to gather the voice of your employees. The most popular of which is the annual survey. While annual surveys are great for organizational benchmarking and gauging your employees’ overall relationship with your organization, there are many ways to get unfiltered and trustworthy feedback from your employees:

Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are real-time surveys that are short and provide immediate feedback to managers and the organization. They are excellent tools to drive more employee engagement and create a culture of transparency.

Managers Meetings

Whether we are talking about team meetings, or one-on-one meetings, managers have a unique opportunity to clear away the barriers to true employee listening. These meetings should remain the safe place for parties to ask questions and provide feedback. When managers listen to their team members, it promotes trust and honesty.

The perfect combination for a successful relationship.

All employee meetings

I do not believe that “All-hands” employee meetings are the more credible way to gather a big picture of employee sentiment. Nonetheless, it is a great way to share information and get an initial pulse of opinion. I like to call this the “allergic reaction” that the information sharing may or may not create. Once you are able to gauge that initial response, you can plan for more pointed feedback methods to follow.

Focus groups

As someone who has Empathy and Relator as my two top strengths, I really enjoy and am quite successful gathering unfiltered feedback via focus groups. I usually recommend a good cross-section of employees. I do not include supervisors in these groups unless I am meeting with that group in particular, because I find that employees cannot loosen up and open up with management present.

             

 One-on-one interviews

This is one of the most effective ways to gather raw feedback, particularly if they trust the interviewer and know that their feedback will remain anonymous. This is where the rubber meets the road with employee listening, because I have found that employees rarely hold back.

Employee Happiness Audits

In many cases, human resources or some other internal resource may be the ones gathering this feedback. Unfortunately, more often than not, employees don’t trust those internal stakeholders for a variety of reasons. In this case, it may make total sense to bring in an outside consultant to use some of the methods above to gather unfiltered feedback. This may seem counter-intuitive to some, but often the outside consultant is perceived as non-affiliated or non-interested, and thus, automatically garners more trust. You will know what will work for your organization when the time arrives.

What will you do after you have listened?

So, what will you do with the feedback once you gather it?

What is your plan of action?

Yes. One key reason you are asking the questions you are asking should be so that you can respond to your employees’ specific needs and suggestions.

The absolute worse thing you could do is to gather feedback and then just sit on it and do or say nothing at all about it again. This will be the fastest way to breakdown trust between the organization and the people who keep it moving forward.

You may also never “hear” from them again.

Here are a few things to consider in this regard:

Who decides what gets fixed?

Have you established some type of governing body that can review the feedback or employee suggestions and decide what gets fixed or acted upon? Please do not just keep all of the feedback housed with the senior leadership team and expect that they will have time to make needed improvements.

Should they be a part of the deciding team? Yes, but there are other key influencers that should be a part of the process as well.

Who is accountable to act?

So, once you have decided who will be a part of the reviewing body, you will also need to know who is responsible to act on the feedback?

Would it be beneficial to have the leaders directly responsible for the area or teams providing the specific feedback to be the ones to lead the improvement efforts? Alternatively, should you appoint non-interested persons to lead the improvement efforts? These questions and more are things to consider when considering who is accountable to follow-thru on the feedback

How do you track improvements?

This can be easy or this can be hard. Much of the difference rests on the internal tools that are available to “close the loop” and track efforts that are taken to act on the feedback.

No matter what tools are available, someone has to facilitate the creation of action plans and measure the success of improvement efforts above organization. If you leave this part of the listening strategy to chance, you might as well never ask the question. It is in the acting upon the listening that trust is built and culture is curated.


Heather R. Younger, J.D. is the best-selling author of, The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty and founder of Customer Fanatix, an organizational development firm whose mission is to inspire leaders to use their employees’ voices to create more loyalty and engagement. Heather does this through corporate workshops, executive coaching, personalized consulting and her speaking engagements. If you want to learn more about setting up your own employee listening strategy, you can contact Heather at her website at customerfanatix.com, or at heather@customerfanatix.com.

Heather

Growth activities that can be life (and tax) changing

By Kerry Alexander

Growth isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, companies expend a great deal of energy and resources deciding which pursuits will move the needle the furthest toward achieving specific goals, and where to prioritize their time and investment.

Oftentimes sales and use tax gets left out of this equation, especially when it doesn’t appear to directly correlate to the task at hand. Certain growth activities, like adding new locations, products, or sales channels, instinctively signal a need to alter sales and use tax compliance practices. With others like financing rounds, acquisitions, or technology platform changes, tax implications aren’t as obvious and therefore are more likely to be overlooked. Yet these are often the situations where compliance strategies can have the greatest and most lasting impact.   

Below is a brief glimpse of how sales and use tax compliance can come into play for 3 business growth activities that can be life (and tax) changing: financing events, M&A, and technology platform integration projects.  Here’s what you should be aware of when going through these processes. 

Financing events

For any financing event, public or private, investors look closely not only at how you plan to grow the business, but also how you are managing it now. Poor sales tax management practices or unfavorable audit outcomes can impact valuation, jeopardize funding, or even nullify deals. High visibility events like funding rounds and IPOs can also bring your business to the attention of state auditors looking to draw in more tax dollars.

Mergers and acquisitions

The meshing together of people, assets, systems, and processes is no simple feat. So, it’s not surprising that business integration issues following M&A transactions are one of the biggest things keeping company execs up at night.  Between due diligence, integration, accounting/financial reporting, and post-acquisition compliance, who has time for the minutia of sales tax? It can be easy to overlook tax obligations or liabilities, which can raise red flags with investors early in the process, or with auditors later.

Technology platform changes, consolidations or upgrades

During change events, it’s good practice to evaluate your financial systems and fill any gaps with new solutions or functionality that can advance your growth objectives. For example, tax automation software that unites critical transaction data from disparate systems and processes can alleviate compliance issues during post-merger integrations, reducing audit risk and avoiding delays in closing the books.

Download the complete whitepaper for further insights from leading industry leaders.

Permission to reprint or repost given by Avalara. Content previously published at www.avalara.com/blog.

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