2017 sales tax changes take effect Jan. 1

Repost from Avalara

Sales tax doesn’t often make headlines, but soda taxes, marijuana sales, tampon exemptions, and online sales tax did in 2016. That trend is likely to continue in 2017. The New Year will bring new taxes, new exemptions, and renewed efforts by states to implement internet sales taxes. It will also bring plenty of the usual suspects, like sales and use tax rate changes.

Read on for some of 2017’s most newsworthy sales and use tax changes. You can also register for the webinar to learn more about these changes and get a copy of the 2017 Sales Tax Changes report.

 State sales and use tax

The state sales and use tax rate in California will drop from 7.5% to 7.25% under Proposition 30, which temporarily increased the rate by 0.25% through December 1, 2016. The state rate decrease also affects certain partial state tax exemptions.

To offset a recent gas tax hike, the state sales and use tax rate in New Jersey will decrease from 7% to 6.875% on January 1, 2017. It will drop further in 2018.

North Carolina use tax will apply to businesses storing tangible personal property or digital property in the state for any period of time. This expansion of use tax is due to the enactment of Senate Bill 729.

However, Missouri sales and use tax will not be expanded to any currently exempt services in 2017. On November 8, voters approved prohibiting the expansion of sales tax to any services not taxed as of January 1, 2015. It will be interesting to see if Missouri legislators attempt to capture additional sales tax revenue another way.

 Soda tax

Soda taxes are slowly sweeping the nation. The Navajo Nation decided in 2014 to imposed higher taxes on sugary drinks and “minimal-to-no-nutritional value food.” Special taxes on sweetened beverages took effect in Berkeley, California in January 2015 and in Vermont six months later.

On November 8, voters in four cities approved proposed soda taxes, and two days later, the Cook County Council did the same. Philadelphia’s soda tax takes effect on January 1, and similar taxes take effect in Boulder, Colorado, Oakland, California, and Cook County, Illinois on July 1, 2017.

Pundits predict more cities and states will soon follow suit, now that soda taxes have been successfully enacted in these areas. Certainly there is interest. Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley has been calling for a tax on soft drinks for years and is likely to renew those efforts in 2017.

Tampons

A number of states enacted so-called “tampon tax” exemptions in 2016. The New York tampon tax exception took effect in September, while Connecticut’s won’t take effect until July 2018. The exemption for feminine hygiene products in Illinois takes effect on January 1. As with soda taxes, there’s a distinct possibility that other states will follow suit with tampon tax exemptions. Already, the District of Columbia Council is poised to exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers.

Netflix

Streaming services such as those provided by Neflix, Hulu, and HBO Go will be subject to sales tax in Pasadena, California, beginning January 1. Pasadena isn’t the first city to specifically tax these (they’ve been subject to tax in Chicago, Illinois since July 1, 2015) and it is unlikely to be the last: a number of other cities in California — including San Bernardino and Santa Monica — are being advised to collect tax on streaming services.  

Tobacco

As of January 1, California is extending cigarette and tobacco taxes to e-cigarettes and similar vaping products, “any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product,” and “any product containing, made, or derived from nicotine” and intended for human consumption. In addition, California’s tax rate on tobacco products will increase significantly once Proposition 56, approved on November 8, takes effect in early 2017. 

Sales tax exemption changes

New exemptions

Ohio will once again exempt investment bullion from sales and use tax beginning January 1.

Maine is expanding the sales tax exemption for products used in certain commercial activities as of January 1. Additional information will soon be available from the Maine Revenue Services.

In North Carolina, certain service contracts sold by or on behalf of motor vehicle dealers will be exempt, as will certain sales of food, prepared food, soft drinks, candy, and other items of tangible personal property at school sponsored events. Additionally, certain sales of repair, maintenance, and installation services that are part of a real property contract will be exempt.

Repealed exemptions

A temporary exemption for tangible personal property used for or in the renovation or expansion of qualifying aquariums in Georgia terminates as of January 1, 2017.

In North Carolina, retail sales of tangible personal property, certain digital property, and taxable services by certain nonprofits will no longer be exempt from sales and use tax as of January 1, and nor will purchases by a manufacturer of fuel or piped natural gas used solely for comfort heating.

Finally, the Wyoming Joint Revenue Committee looks favorably upon eliminating the sales tax exemptions triggered by economic development incentives. It remains to be seen whether or not that will come to pass.

Local sales tax

The following states have announced local sales and use tax rate changes, effective January 1.

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska (also boundary changes, which can impact rates)
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

More local rate changes for 2017 will soon be announced; on November 8, local sales and use tax rate increased were approved in several states, including California, Georgia, and Nevada.

Attend the 2017 Sales Tax Changes webinar on Dec. 15

To learn more about these changes and how they affect you, sign up for the 2017 Sales Tax Webinar on Dec. 15. Even if you can’t attend, register to receive the recording and a free copy of the 2017 Sales Tax Changes report.

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Election Day brings changes to sales taxes

Repost from Avalara

While the focus in the latest general election has been the presidential race, there were plenty of local ballot issues that will affect businesses in a very personal and immediate way. These include votes on sales taxes, several of which were passed in major metropolitan areas.

Businesses need to be aware of sales tax changes so that they are charging the right rate. But there may be other effects of sales tax changes on businesses, such as when a sales tax rate increase may encourage customers to purchase in lower-tax locales, for instance.

Here’s a rundown of some of the major sales tax ballots across the country and the results.

Sales tax restriction

Approved: Missouri Constitutional Amendment 4. This was probably the most far-reaching sales tax issue on the ballot in the U.S. While most sales tax ballot measures proposed sales tax increases, the Missouri measure will limit sales taxes, preventing the state from levying sales tax on any new service or transaction that was not subject to sales tax as of January 1, 2015.

The measure was put forward by the Missouri Association of Realtors as a way to protect real estate services from being taxed, but broadly prohibits any new sources of sales taxes.

The measure can be seen as a reaction to a trend in which states with stretched finances have increasingly sought new sources of revenue. In recent years, services have become much more of an economic engine, now making up approximately two-thirds of the current United States economy. In tandem with that growth, states have increasingly looked to services as a new base for sales taxes.

For businesses that provide services or sell goods that are not now subject to sales taxes in Missouri, the certainty that they will not have to deal with sales taxes in the future will probably be a source of relief.

However, the other side of the story is that limiting the sources of sales tax revenue could mean higher sales tax rates on eligible transactions, since the state is now restricted to those categories. Allowing new categories of transactions to be taxed would spread taxes over a larger number of transactions, meaning that the overall sales tax rate would not necessarily need to be as high. Restricting the sales tax base could also hamstring states’ abilities to reform their tax codes in order to stay competitive.

It remains to be seen whether other states will see similar proposals to limit sales taxes.

Sales tax increases

All the other sales tax ballot measures in the Nov. 8 election dealt with raising sales taxes in states and major metro areas.

California

A handful of big metro areas in California sought sales tax increases for transportation funding.

  • Approved: Measure M in Los Angeles County. This will raise the county’s base sales tax rate by 0.5% to 9.5% effective January 1, 2017, with local sales taxes going on top of the base rate. The tax rate hike will increase to 1% in 2039 and continue indefinitely. The increase will raise an estimated $860 million per year for the most ambitious transit expansion in Los Angeles County history, including expanded rail lines.

Currently, Los Angeles’ sales tax is the 13th highest of major cities in the United States; the new 9.5 percent sales tax means L.A. will tie with Oakland for eighth highest, according to the Tax Foundation.

  • Defeated: Measure B in Sacramento Countywould have raised the sales tax by 0.5% for 30 years, bringing the combined sales tax rate to 8.5 percent in Sacramento County and 9 percent in the City of Sacramento. The funds raised would have gone toward transit projects including a new expressway, a downtown Sacramento streetcar and a light rail extension to the airport. The measure was opposed by taxpayer activists who pointed to the Measure A sales tax already in effect that would have overlapped with Measure B for 20 years.
  • Defeated: Measure A in San Diego Countywould have raised the sales tax by 0.5% to 8.5% for 40 years in order to pay for new rapid bus lines and a trolley line, among other transit improvements. Local Republican and Democratic parties, environmental groups, labor unions and transit advocates opposed the measure for different reasons.

San Francisco

Defeated: Proposition K in San Francisco. San Francisco’s sales tax increase measure was unique in that the money raised would go to homeless services as well as transit improvements. This actually involved two different proposals: Proposition K, which would raise taxes in the city by 0.75% to a total of 9.25%, and Proposition J, which would require that $50 million per year from those sales tax funds go to homeless services and $101.6 million per year to be spent on transportation. 65% of voters rejected the sales tax increase. A “kill switch” provision for Prop J allows the mayor to nullify one or both funds by Jan. 1 if Prop K doesn’t pass.

Georgia

As in California, the sales tax ballot issues in Georgia centered on increasing sales taxes to fund transportation.

  • Approved: Fulton County transportation special purpose local option sales tax (TSPLOST)This measure will raise the sales tax by 0.75% for five years beginning April 1, 2017. The tax will raise up to $655 million over five years to widen and repair roads and bridges and add sidewalks in Fulton’s cities and the county’s unincorporated area.
  • Approved: Atlanta TSPLOST and MARTA sales tax. The Atlanta TSPLOST will raise sales taxes by 0.4% for five years, starting April 1, 2017, to fund improvements to the BeltLine, streets and sidewalks. Another measure will raise sales taxes by 0.5% to expand the MARTA transit system. The new increase would be on top of an existing 1 percent MARTA sales tax, which will decrease to 0.5% in 2047. Both the old and new MARTA taxes will expire in 2057.

With both the Atlanta transit and MARTA sales taxes approved, Atlanta’s sales tax will rise to 8.9 percent, increasing from tied for 51st highest of major U.S. cities to 14th highest, according to the Tax Foundation. By law, Atlanta can raise its local sales tax no higher than 9%.

North Carolina

Approved: Wake County public transit referendum. This ballot measure will raise the sales tax by 0.5% in order to fund a 10-year, $2.3 billion transit plan that will include a new rapid bus system and commuter rail between Raleigh and Durham. The increase will bring the total Wake County sales tax to 7.75% in the spring of 2017.

Oklahoma

Defeated: Oklahoma Question 779. This measure would have raised the statewide sales tax from 4.5% to 5.5% in order to raise an estimated $550 million for education, including teacher salary increases.

Combined with Oklahoma’s local sales taxes, the increase would have brought the average combined state and local sales tax in Oklahoma to 9.85%, the second highest in the U.S. after Louisiana, according to the Tax Foundation. Opponents questioned the effect the tax would have on the economy and whether funds would be distributed as promised.

Texas 

Approved: Arlington baseball stadium measure. This ballot measure will increase the local sales tax by 0.5% to raise $500 million in sales tax revenue to help build a new baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers. The hike will bring Arlington’s total sales tax rate to 8.5%, taking it from the 51st highest sales tax in the U.S. to the 21st highest, according to the Tax Foundation.

Virginia

Defeated: Fairfax County meals sales tax. In Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington. DC, with a population of around 1 million, the ballot included a proposed 4% sales tax increase on restaurant meals and prepared food. The increase would have brought the total sales tax on prepared food and beverages to 10%.

Opponents, including the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, argued that the proposed tax was unfair to the restaurant industry and said the increase would be too much on the heels of a $100 million real estate tax increase earlier this year. 

Washington

Approved: Washington Proposition 1. This measure affecting King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties will raise the sales tax by 0.5% to contribute to the ambitious Regional Measure Sound Transit 3 plan, which would expand the region’s light rail network, rapid bus transit and commuter rail. The increase, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, will come on top of an existing Sound Transit 0.9% sales tax and will raise Seattle’s total sales tax to 10.1%, the sixth highest of major cities in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. 

Stay up to date on sales tax rates and returns

Sales tax rates change all the time, not just in election years. And it can be easy to miss a change and charge the wrong sales tax rate—which can invite a visit from the state tax auditor. Avalara’s sales tax automation software can help. Avalara can also make sure you file sales tax returns correctly and on time. To learn more, download States and Dates: The one-stop guide to filing sales tax returns.

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If you’re a craft fair vendor, you probably need to collect sales tax

Repost from Avalara

From Seattle to Miami, craft shows, festivals, and fairs are ramping up for the holidays. As vendors prepare to sell everything from art and jewelry to housewares and beyond, many still have questions about how to handle sales tax at craft fairs. If you plan to sell at a craft fair, you may be wondering when to charge tax, which products get taxed, how to handle tax in different states. The truth is, if you plan to make sales at a craft fair, you likely have to collect sales tax. Do you have the info you need to do that in the right way? Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about taxing craft fair sales.

 Should I collect sales tax?

The answer to this question is often, yes. Most states require individuals and businesses that make taxable sales to register, collect, and remit state and local sales tax, even when the sales are temporary (e.g. craft fair sales).

However, there are a few exceptions to that rule. For example, no state sales tax permit is required in states without a general sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon. Alaska and Montana still allow local tax, so make sure you check on local sales tax requirements in those states.

In Arizona, event promoters can run all vendor sales through their sales tax license. In those cases, even though the promoters will remit tax to the state, individual vendors still have to charge and collect the right amount of tax.

In a nutshell, tax requirements for short-term or temporary vendors vary from state to state. It’s important to get informed before setting up shop in any state or in a new location in your home state. Tax experts at state departments of revenue can be a great resource. Tax automation software can also help. It automatically calculates the proper amount of tax for each location and makes filing easy.

How do I handle sales tax if I sell in multiple states?

We know sales tax policies vary by state. So don’t assume that what works in one state will work in others.

In some states, such as Ohio, one license/sales tax permit allows a vendor to sell in multiple locations. Yet other states, such as California and New York, require a separate sales tax license or permit for each location within the state. Illinois requires vendors traveling to one or more events to register with the Department of Revenue as a “changing location” filer. In addition, vendors may also have to comply with specific city or county requirements.

Then there are the tricky home rule states, like Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, and West Virginia. In these states, local jurisdictions, like cities and towns, can regulate sales and use tax themselves. Because of that, different cities in the same state can have different tax rules and rates. If you sell in a home rule municipality, you may have to obtain a special seller’s permit and remit the state portion of tax to the state and the local portion of tax to the city. Learn more about home rule here.

Once you register to do business in a state, you have to collect and remit the correct amount of state and applicable local sales tax on all taxable sales. State rates are constant statewide. However, the total rate you have to charge can vary by location because local rates often differ. For example, the combined sales tax rate is 10% in La Mirada, California but 7.5% in Ventura County, California. Furthermore, different locations in one city can have different rates — Denver, Colorado, has more than a dozen rates. To see combined rates for your locations, register for this free, interactive sales tax map.

What crafts or food items are taxable?

Most items sold at arts and craft fairs are taxable in most states with a sales tax; if you’ve collected tax on your products in six states, there’s a good chance you’ll have to collect it in the seventh state. However, there are sometimes surprising exceptions to that rule. For example, Rhode Island provides an exemption for sales of work by writers, composers and artists residing in and conducting business in the state. Most clothing is exempt in Massachusetts, but any individual item of clothing costing more than $175 is taxable on the amount over $175, and “apparel designed solely for athletic or protective use is taxable.” Clothing costing less than $110 per item is exempt from New York State sales tax, but only exempt from local sales tax in certain jurisdictions. To keep vendors on their toes, Connecticut periodically changes its tax policy on clothing. You get the picture.

The taxation of food can be even more complex. Prepared food, such as restaurant meals and concessions, is generally taxable. Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally exempt. But sometimes the taxability of certain foods depends on whether or not utensils are provided; sometimes it depends on the percentage of “prepared food” sold by the establishment; and sometimes it’s even more quirky. For example, in New York, a bagel sold uncut and cold is exempt but a bagel sold sliced and toasted is taxable. In California, “food products” are generally exempt but effervescent water, which many would consider a food product, is taxable. And when it comes to figuring out how candy is taxed, it’s often necessary to read the list of ingredients.

Sales tax rates for food can also be different than sales tax rates for other taxable goods and services in the state. For example, Missouri provides a reduced rate of state tax for all food that may be purchased with food stamps, which includes fresh produce, breads, dairy products and meats but does not include “food that will be eaten in the store;” several municipalities in Alaska exempt non-prepared foods during the long winter but tax them during the summer (when hungry tourists invade the state); and a growing number of states and cities are imposing a special tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.

Should sales tax be included in the price? Which states allow this and which don’t? Is it required to be marked if it is included?

Some states permit businesses to absorb the tax (pay it themselves instead of passing it on to the consumer). And some states allow businesses to include tax in the selling price, provided the policy is clearly visible to consumers. However, it is against the law to absorb tax or include it in the selling price in other states.

As always with sales tax, policies vary from state to state. For example, aside from a few “limited exceptions for sales of admissions or concession sales of prepared food,” sellers in Nebraska are “not permitted to advertise or imply in any way that the sales tax, or any part of the sales tax, will be assumed or absorbed by the seller or that the sales tax will not be added to the selling price.”  Yet it’s legal for Washington sellers to advertise the price as including sales tax, provided tax is separately stated on the invoice or receipt. The safest bet in many cases is to keep the sales tax separate.

What solutions are there?

Sales tax can be crazily complex, but don’t let that tax dissuade you from selling your wares at craft shows, flea markets, and holiday bazaars nationwide. Download Everything You Wanted to Know About Nexus to help you understand your obligations.

Having sales tax automated in your financial applications or billing systems can also remove any uncertainty you have about sales tax and make sure you are complying with the rules for collecting and remitting sales tax wherever you do business.

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How to use Sage CRM correctly for the simple tasks.

One item I usually feel is one of the most important and most rudimentary parts of a CRM is capturing the “communications”.  When I talk about communications with regard to Sage CRM, I mean all the things you as a user should be entering to track the interaction with your client.

Some examples include, follow up calls, document dropping any proposals or documents regarding the client, filing key email communications, tracking birthdays or anniversaries, track thank you cards sent.  Anything relevant that takes place between you and the client should be tracked.

How do you properly document these items in your CRM.

7K0A0032DO:

  • Enter the communication on the day they were scheduled, sent, completed, emailed etc. Don’t get me wrong, feel free to schedule something for yourself of which you may not get to until a week later.  But then change the date in the CRM to the completed date so it reflects accurately.  Sage CRM tracks tasks with a start date and a due date.  This is very useful for projects or things that have a drop dead date to be completed.
  • File emails but not ALL. In outlook your emails have a thread.  You should file the most relevant (usually the last one in the series) which will contain the thread of the previous emails.  No need to file 12 separate emails of people saying thank you and I’ll send it right over.  Just file the relevant ones that have the information that would be helpful to anyone reviewing or managing this client account.
  • Schedule follow ups immediately or they will get lost in your mind or notes. At least if they are scheduled in the CRM, they will be staring you in the face until you get to them.  In Sage CRM, these notes turn RED when they are“overdue.”.  You don’t want too many red items because they will tend to creep up on you.

7K0A0021DON’T:

  • Enter Nothing! Don’t do this.  It helps no one, especially you when it comes to maintaining your service to a client.
  • Put it off- if you don’t enter the communication or follow up details immediately ( or as close as possible), we all know it will not get done
  • File all emails. As mentioned above, you do not need every single communication you have had with someone to be saved for review.  This could cause the clients communication diary to be too cumbersome to sift through for important information.

Client Story:

I have been working with a client for the past few years with their Sage CRM product.  They have grown in usage of this product yet some things were not as important to them as others.    When a new employee came on, I trained her on all the basics of CRM and how to use it.  I always train with the company in mind and make sure to train the way they are using it or should be using the CRM based on my history with them.

The new employee started a bad habit immediately of which to this day she is still using.  I’ll call her Sherry.  Sherry was in charge of follow ups on old customers who haven’t placed an order in X amount of time and/or cold calling for purchased lists.  We all know this kind of follow up takes a lot of patience and multiple reaches before anything MIGHT come of it.  Sherry decided to track the follow ups in one single communication.  For example she may call 15 times within one month and not get through to the customer.  Instead of logging 16 separate communications showing that she called at this time or this day, she decided to lump them into one communication.  At a glance it looks like she only tried one.  It doesn’t show the history of calls she is making.  On top of that, it is hard to report on amount of calls she is making per day, week, or month, if they are bulked.   Sherry was trained multiple times on the correct way, per her company, to log these calls yet it hadn’t changed in many months.

The best practices for any CRM user are the ones that work, can be reported on to show they work, and get results.  Use your CRM correctly but most importantly, USE IT!

For more information on Sage CRM, contact Kari-Ann Ryan, Certified Sage CRM

What’s up with Amazon tax?

Repost from Avalara

Almost every internet retailer asks this question at some point: “Do I have to charge sales tax?”

Answering the online sales tax question is far more complex than it used to be. A good point of reference is Amazon. You may have a far different business than Amazon, but many states have made it the focal point of new sales tax laws. Those laws impact many remote sellers; even possibly you.

 Amazon tax in 2016

Amazon currently collects tax on sales shipped to 28 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Many of these states have enacted click-through or affiliate nexus legislation that presumes an out-of-state seller has nexus (an obligation to collect sales tax) when certain conditions are met. These laws are designed to get the big players, like Amazon, to collect and remit sales tax. However, the laws apply to many other retail and ecommerce companies besides Amazon. For example, click-through nexus policies require out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales tax when they compensate residents for sales made via links on their websites. Under affiliate nexus policies, other ties to in-state businesses may trigger a sales tax obligation.

Determining whether or not you have nexus in a given state can be tricky because state policies vary; for example, in California, click-through nexus is triggered if a business generates more than $10,000 in in-state sales during the preceding four quarterly periods, while in Connecticut, it’s triggered if a business generates more than $2,000 in the same time frame. It’s best to consult with a tax advisor before entering new markets or expanding online advertising, as a mere click on a website may trigger nexus in a new state.

Amazon doesn’t collect tax in the remaining 22 states, most of which don’t have click-through or affiliate nexus policies. However, Arkansas, LouisianaMaineMissouriRhode Island, and Vermont have all enacted remote sales tax laws — variations on a theme that all work to create a sales and use tax obligation for many out-of-state sellers, including Amazon. In order to avoid triggering nexus in these states, Amazon no longer permits residents to participate in its associates program.

But you may have to comply in these states. The Vermont Department of Taxes stresses that retailers with no physical presence in Vermont are presumed to have nexus for sales tax if they have agreements with residents to refer customers that resulted in sales in excess of $10,000 in the previous year.

Perhaps the most interesting recent news is that Amazon will be required to collect sales tax in Washington, D.C. beginning on October 1. The company doesn’t have a physical presence in the District, and the District has not enacted click-through or affiliate nexus. So what gives? Neither Amazon nor the District will comment. It could be a voluntary collection on Amazon’s part — it’s made such agreements in the past, usually in states where it plans a future physical presence. And indeed, The Washington Post reports that Amazon is looking for a good spot for a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the nation’s capital. If you do business in the capital, you will want to stay tuned to see what the law means for you.

 The future of online shopping: stores without walls

In the past year, Amazon has opened brick-and-mortar bookstores in Portland, Oregon, San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington. It will soon have stores in the Boston and Chicago areas, and CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders in May that there are plans to open more, though he provided no details.

Amazon isn’t alone. Savvy e-tailers from Birchbox to Warby Parker are opening traditional retail stores. Smaller internet businesses are also experimenting with pop-up stores.

If you’re thinking of taking your business to new channels, keep in mind it could impact your tax obligations. The more brick-and-mortar stores internet retailers open, the more places they give themselves a physical presence and an obligation to collect sales tax.

 State and federal efforts to change nexus policies

A handful of states are instituting economic nexus policies. This means that remote sellers may have to collect and remit sales tax in these states simply for making sales there. Economic nexus policies in Alabama and South Dakota have triggered lawsuits, and both states are prepared to argue their cases before the United States Supreme Court. If this happens, the Court could overturn Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the 1992 decision responsible for the physical presence precedent still followed today.

Meanwhile, federal lawmakers are striving to find a solution that will satisfy states and businesses when it comes to laws governing sales tax and remote sales. Four pieces of legislation are currently kicking around Capitol Hill: the Marketplace Fairness Act, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, the Online Sales Simplification Act, and the No Regulation without Representation Act.

Knowing where you have nexus and staying up-to-date on changing policies is crucial. Even though state laws vary widely, keeping tabs on Internet giants, like Amazon, can be a good way to see which way the tax wind is blowing. For the latest and greatest, check out where are we with federal online sales tax legislation?

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Submitted by Avalara

The NetSuite Reminders Portlet and the New Features

NetSuite has an extremely useful feature called the Reminders portlet. “Portlets” are what the boxes on the NetSuite dashboard are called. Their function is to display information which the user deems to be pertinent—much like the gauges on a car’s dashboard. The Reminders portlet is one of the most popular portlets. With just a couple tweaks, it can be very helpful to any NetSuite user.

What is the Reminders portlet? It’s exactly what it sounds like. It is a live feed that shows which tasks you must complete or which records you must deal with. For instance, it may show you how many invoices you have to print, how many phone calls you need to make, or how many orders you must receive. With the ability to create reminders from Saved Searches, the possibilities with the Reminders portlet are endless.

In this blog, we will show you some basic Reminder portlet configuration as well as some of the new features added in the 2016.2 update. The first thing we will do is go over how to add a reminder to your portlet, then we will show you how to create custom reminders from Saved Searches. New features will be explained as we go over each process, as they make more sense in-context.

So how do we add reminders?

First, hover over the upper right corner of the Reminders portlet, and click “Set Up”. Don’t worry if you don’t see the refresh button or the dropdown menu—they don’t appear till you hover over them.

Now you will see a menu of available reminders. Custom reminders are marked with a “C” in a green circle.

Reminder portlet -2

Reminders can now be dragged directly to the spot where you want them from the selection panel to the “Current Selections” panel.

Reminder portlet -3

You can also click the reminder’s name, though this will add it to the bottom of the list. If you do it this way but don’t want it at the bottom, you can drag the reminder to the appropriate spot after adding it.

In the above screenshot, you may notice a box in the lower left marked “Show reminders with zero results”. Checking this box will cause the reminders portlet to show you reminders even when there are no results. This may be useful in letting you know what you don’t have to worry about, as seen below.

Reminder portlet -4

Next, let’s go over how to make a custom reminder from a Saved Search.

For this example, we will use our custom Saved Search, “00 Customers – No orders in 2 weeks”. Here at WAC’s Florida office, we like to put “00” in front of the names of our custom searches because that causes them to sort to the top of the list. This particular Saved Search was created to show us which customers have not ordered for two weeks or more.

First, open the Saved Search which you want to make into a reminder.

Next, make sure your Saved Search is going to make a good reminder—that means you should check for duplicates and that the Saved Search is not returning unwanted results.

Now go and click the edit button.

Reminder portlet -5

When you get into edit mode, ensure that “Available For Reminders” is checked as below.

Reminder portlet -6

Zoomed in:

Reminder portlet -16

Make sure to save.

Now go back to your dashboard, hover over the upper right corner of the Reminders portlet, and click “Set Up” as before.

Reminder portlet -7

Now you should see the saved search in your available reminders box as below, and you can now add it to your Reminders portlet like any other reminder.

Reminder portlet -8

If you do not see your reminder, try refreshing the page and going back into Set Up.

A new option in 2016.2 is the ability to make reminders into headlines. To do that, drag your reminder to the “Headline” box, as seen below.

Reminder portlet -9

When you return to the dashboard, you will see that this puts the number on top of the reminder’s name and enlarges it for greater visibility.

Reminder portlet -10

Another option you have in 2016.2 for editing reminders is hovering over the reminder on your dashboard and clicking the little pencil which appears:

Reminder portlet -11

This gives you a box which contains some more options for the given reminder.

Reminder portlet -12

The options for each reminder vary, and with Invoices Overdue, you may have it remind you of invoices which are a certain number of days overdue.

You can also display the reminder as a headline from here, or add highlighting rules. Highlighting reminders is another new feature for 2016.2.

What are highlighting rules? They cause NetSuite to draw your attention to important reminders by highlighting them with a color if they reach a certain threshold.

Let’s say that you want NetSuite to draw your attention to the reminders if there are more than 200 invoices overdue.

In the above screenshot, under “Highlighting rules” you can see an option which says “+ Add Rule”. Click it. This creates a new rule and lets you tell the system what number it should highlight the reminder at, and what color to do it in.

Reminder portlet -13

A reminder can have multiple highlighting rules. For instance, you may want it to turn yellow if 50 or more invoices are due and red if over 200 are due. Simply click “+Add Rule” again.

Reminder portlet -14

Now save. Your reminders should look like this:

Reminder portlet -15

As you can see, the Reminders portlet is very useful and can be configured for almost any role in NetSuite. It is easy enough for any user with basic skills to fine-tune to best facilitate their job.

We hope that this blog entry has been useful to you, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Robert.White@wacptrs.com

 

Cloud ERP R.O.I. Simplified

Any residential solar panel salesman knows that one of the most powerful sales pitches is the Return On Investment pitch (R.O.I.)

A simplified R.O.I. calculation in the residential solar panel industry is to divide the total price of installation by the monthly average electric bill. That typically computes to anywhere from 5 to 7 years. “Think about it”, the salesman says, “in 7 years you will be free and clear.”

If you Google ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) R.O.I. Calculation you will get over 100,000 results. They take into account many variables and plug them into a mathematical formula, which gives you an idea on the R.O.I.

There are obvious costs, such as: the price of the software, implementation, data conversion, employee training.  Then there are secondary costs such as: learning curve, human errors, efficiency, employee enthusiasm, or lack thereof, motivation, and more.

Now, let’s simplify the R.O.I. calculation for a typical midsize company, moving from an in-house to a cloud solution

Current yearly expenses In-House or On Premise

  • IT Infrastructure: Maintaining Server hardware, software, updates, backup, anti-virus, anti-malware, plus more. For a mid-size company on the yearly contract, prices can range between $6,000 – $24,000.  Then you still have to add in the price of the hardware and software.
  • Yearly software vendor’s maintenance fees: Typically 17 – 25 percent of the retail price of the software. So that equates to anywhere from $2,000 – $20,000.
  • Install yearly updates: $3,500 – $10,000
  • Average Total: $32,000 per year this does not factor in loss of productivity due to server down, malware attacks, or other.

Current yearly expenses SaaS

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) yearly: Starts at $15,000 for an accounting, distribution and CRM (Customer Relations Management) solution.
  • Installation, implementation, and training: Starts at $25,000.
  • Human factor: Varies from company to company – We will plug in an arbitrary $50,000.

R.O.I Calculation

First Year = $90,000 – $32,000 = $58,000

2nd Year = ($58,000 + $15,000) – $32,000 = $41,000

3rd Year = (41,000 + $15,000) – $32,000 = $24,000

4th Year = ($24,000 +$15,000) – $32,000 = $7,000

Peace of Mind = Priceless!

We are WAC Solution Partners, a national company with offices in 13 major cities. Each one of our consultants and business analysts has a minimum of 20 years experience.

 Call us at (213) 262-2565 for a FREE system evaluation and analysis. 

The First Computer “Bug”

Did you ever wonder why a problem with a computer is called a bug?  Well, according to Admiral Grace Hopper of the US Navy, it happened on September 9, 1945.  Back then, computers took up an entire room and there were many tubes.  So on that day, a moth flew into the room and into the wires/tubes and shorted the circuits.  In the official log, the moth was actually taped to the page and the computer problem was notated as being “caused by the bug”.

Admiral Hopper was one of the first programmers on the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944.  The term “bug” had been used before in engineering projects, but this is the first recorded computer bug in history.  Just imagine if they had use the word moth when describing the original problem?  Would we be “de-mothing” computer programs today?

It is November.. Time to Analyze

Repost from WACAcumatica

It’s November, and it means the official start of the busy holiday season. In fact, many retailers depend on holiday shopping as a very large percentage of their main revenue for the year.

This is the time corporations are evaluating revenue projections versus actuals, expenditure budgets, and taxes.

Holiday_3The tool for producing the financial reports needed for evaluations is your business management software, also known as ERP.  Your ERP has diligently recorded every invoice, cash receipt, inventory purchases, vendor invoices and more. Maybe it is time to examine the actual tool itself, and compare its capabilities to what else is out there.

Here’s an easy way to determine your ERP’s, technological generation gap factor. Divide its age by 1.5 (18 months is considered a generation.) For example, if you have not upgraded your system since 2000, you are 10.6 generations behind. To put things into perspective, the first iPhone was introduced in 2007!

WAC Solution Partners, Greater Los Angeles is offering a FREE business management analysis. We delve into the current processes, compare them to similar businesses and best practices, then present the options. Sometimes, there is no real need to upgrade.  There may be an enhancement to the current processes, replacing a manual labor intensive process with a software solution, or designing a custom report. However, if management is considering an upgrade or a replacement of their current system, we are prepared to compare the pros and cons of the different solutions, based on the findings in our analysis.  WAC will then recommend the most efficient and cost effective solution for your business.

Food for Thought:

  1. What is the ROI of replacing your ERP system?
  2. Is the current technology helping you manage your business efficiently?
  3. Are your team members spinning their wheels doing repetitive work that could be replaced by automation?

We are WAC Solution Partners, a national company with offices in 13 major cities. Each one of our consultants and business analysts has a minimum of 20 years experience.

Call the Greater Los Angeles office at (213) 262-2565 for a FREE system evaluation and analysis.

Happy Thanksgiving

HR To Do List for November

If you are in Human Resources or upper management you have a busy month ahead of you.  You are probably in the middle of Open Enrollment, you are rgetting ready for your ACA reporting in January, and now you have to get the word out to affected employees that some of them are going to be paid hourly effective December 1, 2016.  Here is a little checklist to help you with that last one.

  • Review all exempt salaried employees who earn less than $47,476 per year or $913 per week.  Determine their new hourly rate.
  • Make sure that they are set up to record time the same way the rest of your hourly employees record time.  Set them up in the timeclock and get their badges ready.
  • Be sure that the managers of the affected employees sit down with them to discuss what will be changing.
  • Don’t assume that they know the rules they will need to follow.  Spell them out in a written communication as well and have them sign an acknowledgement.

Suzanne Lucas has provided an excellent letter example for Inc. Magazine.  Take a look at her example and it will help you with a tough communication.

http://www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/how-to-tell-your-salaried-employees-they-are-now-hourly.html