The percentage of gross revenue that comes from exempt sales for many businesses can be significant. Even if you do not sell directly to the typical non-exempt businesses such as schools, the government, or religious institutions, you may have other customers who are exempt if they are resellers, distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, or retailers.
Many times, a seller is not aware of their customer's exempt status until the point-of-sale. When customers are determined to be exempt from sales tax, the seller is required to collect an exemption certificate. Customer service, sales, and credit on the front lines are typically the ones who collect exemption documentation. However, the front line staff usually does not have the knowledge to consistently make the right call. Inaccurately collecting and managing this complex exemption data by employees (or not collecting it all) can have huge consequences downstream, especially on your customer’s purchase experience.
When a customer says they are exempt, many businesses will take the customer’s word and wait for the buyer to produce the certificate at a later date, or they may tell the customer they cannot complete the sale until the certificate is provided. In the case of a returning exempt customer, businesses often-times misplace the original certificate or they may have an old certificate on file that is no longer valid. All of these scenarios can cause customer service issues related to managing certificates. Managing the exemption certificate process does not need to be complex and cause a poor customer experience if there is a process in place that is consistently enforced throughout the organization and software is implemented that helps manage the process.
AvaTax Certs integrates smoothly with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications such as Microsoft Dynamics. With AvaTax Certs, ERP users can send a certificate request, display a list of all certificates a customer has on file, view certificate images, and display the status of a request, all within the customer record of the ERP. AvaTax Certs also integrates with the Avalara tax decision software, AvaTax Calc, so the proper tax amounts are applied to invoices originating from the ERP to completely automate the Exemption Certificate Lifecycle for businesses.
Using an automated and well-defined exemption certificate process eliminates the need for credit, sales, or other departments to have exemption certificate expertise when looking up or collecting certificates. Implementing a solution like AvaTax Certs also helps your sales staff avoid having to spend too much time dealing with customer satisfaction issues due to fixing sales tax billing errors, so they can spend more time generating sales!