The increasing adoption of electronic commerce and the related national/global nature of the business has created challenges for merchants on the tax calculation and filing front. Read on to learn more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to Avalara and yourself.
Peter Horadan: I’m EVP of Engineering and CTO for Avalara. We help customers with managing their transactional tax. That includes sales tax, VAT, or GST. Our business is to deal with the staggering complexity of dealing with transactional taxes so our customers can get back to business.
Sramana Mitra: Can you talk about your customers? What kind of customers use this technology?
Peter Horadan: We have over 20,000 customers around the globe. They span all sizes and all industries. We have customers who range from part-time online sellers to some of the largest global industrial companies. One of the fun things with our business is getting to deal with so many different situations.
Sramana Mitra: What is the style of the companies that you work with?
Peter Horadan: The interesting thing is there’s no particular style. Our application applies to every business. Every business in the world has a government that says, “You’re going to be our tax collector. You’re going to follow our complicated rules for determining taxes. You’re going to fill out our forms and send them in. We’re going to audit you and if you get it wrong, we’re going to fine you.” Every business has the complicated problem of doing government compliance. There’s nothing that defines our customer other than they’re in business, they’re doing sales, and they have to comply with transactional tax requirements.
Sramana Mitra: Are we talking about very large enterprises or we talking about mid-sized enterprises?
Peter Horadan: We have, literally, all kinds of customers from the smallest part-time online seller who’s selling something as a hobby, all the way to very large companies.
Sramana Mitra: Where is the bulk of the business? Is the bulk of the business large companies? Where is the sweet spot of the business?
Peter Horadan: It’s really everyone. We try to focus on making it simple. Our motto is make sales tax less taxing. Even for the smallest company, we have a solution that makes it easy for them to get up and running and there’s not too much complexity even for the largest company where we’re handling some of the most complicated needs and making it easy for them.
Sramana Mitra: How do you do it? What’s special about what you do?
Peter Horadan: One of the things that’s special is our delivery over the cloud. We’re entirely a SaaS-delivered service. We also do real-time tax calculation. Whenever our customer makes a sale, we will calculate the transactional tax on that sale. Once the filing period ends, our job is to do whatever filings are required and remit the funds that are collected. We do that at an incredible scale. Last year, we filed over a million tax returns. We calculated over $100 million in taxes everyday, and we collected over $14 billion of taxes that year.