International Tax Compliance: A Review of Top Software Solutions

published on 27 October 2023

As any business operating globally would agree, navigating international tax compliance is a monumental challenge.

However, with the right software solution, businesses can simplify compliance, reduce risk, and unlock strategic insights from their tax data.

In this review, we will analyze the top international tax compliance software platforms on the market, detailing their key features, strengths and limitations. You will learn best practices for strategic implementation to maximize ROI while future-proofing your tax function against regulatory change.


International tax compliance can be complex for companies with global operations. Using specialized software can help businesses remain compliant and avoid penalties. Key benefits of tax compliance software include:

  • Automating tax calculations - Software can automatically apply appropriate tax rules and rates across jurisdictions. This eliminates manual errors and saves significant time.

  • Ensuring compliant transactions - Systems make sure sales tax, VAT, customs duties, etc. are properly collected, calculated, and remitted. This reduces audit risk.

  • Centralizing tax data - Solutions provide a single source of truth for all tax activities, documents, and payments. This enables transparency and reporting.

  • Connecting accounting systems - Many solutions integrate with major accounting platforms like NetSuite, QuickBooks, and Sage. This streamlines workflows.

  • Providing alerts and notifications - Software can flag changes in regulations across geographies. This helps keep tax practices current.

  • Supplying reporting and analytics - Robust analytics and customizable reports provide visibility into tax liability exposure globally.

Specialized international tax software provides essential automation, compliance, and insights for global companies. In the sections below we'll analyze popular solutions on the market to determine the best options to fulfill these core tax needs at scale across borders.

Does Avalara work internationally?

Avalara offers robust international tax compliance solutions to support businesses with global e-commerce operations. Their cloud-based software integrates with leading ERPs and e-commerce platforms to automate value-added tax (VAT) calculations and registrations across Europe and beyond.

With 200+ VAT registrations secured, Avalara has established connections with fiscal representatives around the world. Their dedicated VAT experts act as an extension of your business, managing registrations, filings, audits, and other complex overseas requirements.

By leveraging Avalara's global tax knowledge and technology, companies can expand into new markets faster while remaining compliant. Key benefits include:

  • Automated VAT calculations optimized for global transactions
  • Assistance securing fiscal representatives for EU trading
  • Advisory services to navigate international VAT rules and registrations
  • Integrations with major online storefronts and ERP systems
  • Cloud-based tax decision engine for real-time, accurate tax determinations

In today’s global e-commerce landscape, VAT and international tax compliance is highly complex. With Avalara as your partner, you can trade globally with confidence that taxes are fully managed. Reach out to their international tax specialists to learn more.

Who competes with Avalara?

Avalara is a dominant player in the automated sales tax compliance software industry. Some of Avalara's major competitors include:

Vertex - Offers end-to-end sales tax determination and compliance solutions. Includes automation, research tools, returns preparation, and more. Known for strong integrated partnerships.

Sovos - Specializes in global tax compliance software covering sales & use, VAT, and 1099 reporting. Includes automated returns, global tax determination, and regulatory updates.

TurboTax Business - Part of Intuit's suite of tax solutions for SMBs. More limited sales tax management features compared to dedicated providers. Integrates payroll, accounting, and other business operations.

While there are a variety of solutions on the market, Avalara continues to stand out as an industry leader based on the breadth of its sales tax automation capabilities, integrated partner solutions, and reputation for reliable and accurate calculations. As regulations frequently change, Avalara's compliance experts and automated updates provide peace of mind to customers across industry verticals.

Deciphering International Tax Compliance Landscape

Multinational corporations face complex cross-border tax compliance obligations. Key regulations like FATCA, CRS, and GDPR create expansive reporting requirements and steep penalties for non-compliance. Understanding these regulations is critical for companies conducting international business.

FATCA Regulations

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) aims to prevent offshore tax evasion by US taxpayers. Enacted in 2010, FATCA essentially requires foreign financial institutions to report information on accounts held by US taxpayers to the IRS. Failure to comply can result in a punitive 30% withholding tax on US-sourced payments.

Specifically, FATCA reporting covers:

  • Identification of US accounts, including balances and payments
  • Details on account holders and substantial US owners
  • Information on non-US financial entities not in compliance

As an intergovernmental framework, FATCA also facilitates information sharing between the US and partner jurisdictions via bilateral agreements. Overall, FATCA creates expansive requirements for financial institutions dealing with US persons or entities abroad. Integrating a robust compliance system is imperative.

OECD Common Reporting Standard

The OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS) resembles FATCA in objectives and obligations. However, CRS has wider international scope - over 100 jurisdictions participate.

Fundamentally, under CRS countries:

  • Collect information from financial institutions on non-residents' accounts
  • Exchange this information automatically with partner countries annually

Information exchange covers various asset types like equities, bonds, and cash value insurance contracts. Reportable taxpayer details include names, addresses, tax IDs, account balances and more.

Thus, CRS facilitates global transparency on offshore assets and income. Financial institutions must implement strong reporting mechanisms to fulfill obligations. Fines for inaccurate or incomplete reporting can be severe.

EU GDPR Implications

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs data protection and privacy. Though not a tax regulation, GDPR impacts international tax compliance in key ways.

Primarily, GDPR introduces restrictions on transferring personal data outside the EU. Compliance systems processing taxpayer information must implement adequate technical and organizational safeguards for international data transfers. Additionally, entities could require explicit consent from data subjects when sharing sensitive information with non-EU tax authorities.

Overall, financial institutions must ensure tax compliance systems enable GDPR conformity. Seeking specialized legal guidance to align CRS and FATCA reporting with GDPR is highly recommended. Complying with both sets of regulatory requirements demands careful balancing and advanced data governance capabilities.


Harnessing Automation for Tax Compliance Efficiency

Automating tax compliance processes with dedicated software provides major advantages over manual reporting. By centralizing data and workflows, tax compliance software enables businesses to improve accuracy, increase efficiency, and seamlessly adapt to ongoing regulatory changes.

Improved Accuracy and Auditability

Tax compliance software helps minimize human error by automatically pulling financial data into tax forms and reports. This prevents issues like transposed numbers or miscalculated values that lead to filing mistakes. Software also provides detailed audit trails for all automated processes and data inputs, creating transparency if any numbers are questioned during an audit.

By removing manual data entry and calculations, automation ensures completed tax documents have near 100% accuracy. This gives finance teams greater confidence at tax time and during audits. The detailed activity logs also simplify demonstrating compliance if any issues emerge.

Increased Efficiency with AI Tax Planning

In addition to accuracy gains, automated software delivers major time and cost savings over manual approaches. AI tax planning algorithms strategically identify deductions and supply data to minimize tax liability within legal thresholds. This takes a huge burden off accountants, enabling intelligent software to handle the legwork.

The automated exchange of data between systems gets rid of duplicate entry and seamlessly pre-populates tax forms. This dramatically cuts reporting and filing preparation timelines. By centralizing tax processes into a unified platform, software also enables easy collaboration between team members.

On average, mid-sized companies save over 200 hours annually using tax software automation, leading to 50% lower compliance costs. Those savings get redirected to profitability or innovating on core business goals.

Regulatory Change Adaptability

Tax regulations frequently evolve from year to year. Manual reporting processes often struggle adapting to new compliance rules in a timely manner. This opens the door for unintentional non-compliance if forms and workflows aren't updated.

The beauty of automated software is the ability to fluidly adjust to new regulations through system updates. This guarantees filings always meet the latest compliance standards without internal teams needing to learn new rules.

Many solutions even utilize AI in tax and accounting to rapidly analyze regulatory shifts. The AI then recommends ways to update data inputs and workflows to remain compliant. This simplifies the compliance process as regulations get more complex over time.

Overall, embracing tax compliance software automation helps businesses improve accuracy, increase efficiency through intelligent workflows, and effortlessly adapt to ongoing regulatory changes. This leads to massive time and cost savings that get reinvested in key business goals.

Comprehensive Review of Top International Tax Compliance Software

International tax compliance is complex, with businesses needing to navigate different regulations across borders. Technology can help streamline this process. Here we review software solutions that assist with sales tax exemption certificate management, calculations, and reporting across jurisdictions.

Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE

ONESOURCE is a popular tax solution used globally. Key features relevant to this discussion include:

  • Sales tax exemption certificate management allowing storage, validation, and reporting of exemption certificates. Automates formerly manual processes.
  • Calculation engines handle complex multi-national sales tax obligations. Flexible configuration supports various scenarios.
  • Robust reporting dashboards visualize global tax liability and year-over-year trends.
  • Integrations with major ERPs like SAP, Oracle, and more. API access further extends capabilities.

Limitations are mainly around initial setup complexity and total cost of ownership being higher for smaller firms. But for enterprise corporations, ONESOURCE is regarded as an industry leader.

SAP Integrated Business Planning for Tax Compliance

As a dominant force in enterprise software, SAP offers strong tax compliance abilities via its Integrated Business Planning suite, including:

  • Embedded sales tax calculator helps determine obligations across global jurisdictions. Leverages real-time rates.
  • Automated tax reporting reduces risk, cost, and effort of manual processes.
  • AI/ML tax planning assists with scenario modeling and strategy optimization.
  • Tight ERP integration allows tax considerations during supply chain and financial planning.

Shortcomings center around usability concerns for non-technical users. But for organizations running SAP, it streamlines international tax management through natively shared data models and workflows.

Vertex® Indirect Tax Solutions

As a pure-play tax software vendor, Vertex boasts particular expertise around global indirect tax compliance, especially in relation to sales and value-added tax:

  • Robust sales tax calculator software at the core of all products precisely determines complex liabilities.
  • Specialized for high-volume product and services transactions.
  • Integrates with major ERPs, POS systems, ecommerce, and billing solutions.
  • Policy-as-Code engine centralizes tax rules for consistent deployments across regions.
  • Supports VAT regimes in 100+ countries.

With deep international tax capabilities purpose-built for global commerce, Vertex enables large enterprises to scale while ensuring tax compliance. Initial cost and effort may deter small firms. But for global corporations, Vertex is a leader in automated indirect tax processes.

Strategic Implementation of Tax Compliance Systems

As businesses evaluate solutions to improve tax compliance and manage calculations around areas like sales tax, several key questions come to the forefront:

Software Infrastructure Requirements for Sales Tax Solutions

To optimize integration and performance of sales tax software tools, finance teams should assess current infrastructure against recommended specifications provided by vendors.

Key technical considerations include:

  • Integration with existing ERPs and accounting systems - Select tools that offer APIs and connectors to sync data across platforms, avoiding manual duplication of data entry.
  • Cloud-based deployment - Evaluate whether solutions are optimized for rapid deployment across regions via the cloud. This enables efficient centralized management and automatic delivery of software updates.
  • Data security - Validate that software vendors provide robust access controls, encryption, and permissions to safeguard sensitive tax and financial data, especially when leveraging cloud platforms.
  • Scalability - Assess whether solutions can flexibly scale up to support business growth over 3-5 years. Planning ahead reduces migration headaches down the road.

Following vendor best practices for deployment streamlines the installation process and sets the foundation for realizing the full scope of features and benefits of sales tax management tools over the long-term.

Change Management for Tax Technology Adoption

Beyond technical implementation, driving user adoption is key to transforming teams' efficiency and effectiveness with new tax compliance systems.

Strategic areas to address include:

  • Hands-on training - Provide customized hands-on walkthroughs of key features and workflows to build employee confidence using the tools. Give ample opportunity to ask questions and resolve knowledge gaps.
  • Online knowledge base - Equip staff with on-demand resources like video tutorials, user manuals, FAQs, and chat support to reinforce training concepts and easily reference information.
  • Management endorsement - Foster buy-in by having team leaders and executives vocally advocate and demonstrate the value of leveraging the technology, including areas like sales tax exemption certificate documentation.
  • User feedback channels - Create pipelines for staff to suggest additional training needs, recommend software customizations, report bugs, and request new features to continuously improve the user experience.

Proactive change management unlocks adoption, ensuring tax tools deliver ROI by optimizing processes like accurately tracking sales tax obligations across jurisdictions.

Ongoing Vendor Support and Updates

The ideal tax compliance software partner provides reliable customer support and continually enhances functionality over time via product updates and roadmap development input from users.

Aspects to examine when evaluating vendors include:

  • Customer service - Assess ease of contacting support teams across mediums like phone, email, chat. Check that inquiry response times meet expectations for your tax processes.
  • Product updates - Validate that the vendor shares a public timeline for releasing enhancements and new features on a regular software release schedule, rather than sporadic updates.
  • Regulatory compliance monitoring - Confirm that vendors have staff focused on tracking tax code changes across jurisdictions to proactively update software as regulations evolve.
  • User community - Engage in vendor user groups and feedback forums to leverage insights from industry peers also navigating tax solution implementation strategies.

Choosing the right technology partner provides assurance that your selected tax compliance tools will remain optimized over the long term as your teams master the software and regulatory mandates shift.

Innovations Shaping the Future of International Tax Compliance

Emerging technologies like blockchain, predictive analytics, and robotic process automation have the potential to transform international tax compliance in the years ahead. As global business becomes more complex, companies need smarter tools to navigate cross-border tax obligations efficiently.

Blockchain for Transparent Tax Data Exchange

Blockchain pilots are exploring how distributed ledger technology can enable transparent and trusted exchange of tax-related data between companies and tax authorities across borders. By providing real-time visibility into financial flows, blockchain has the capacity to simplify compliance, prevent fraud, and build mutual trust in the global tax system. Early initiatives are examining blockchain-based solutions for:

  • Sharing Know Your Customer (KYC) data between institutions
  • Tracking cross-border payments and mandatory tax disclosures
  • Streamlining VAT collection across EU member states

As more proof of concepts demonstrate blockchain's viability for tax, widespread adoption could emerge within the next 5-10 years. This would lay the foundation for a 21st century tax infrastructure attuned to the digital economy.

The Evolution of AI in Tax and Accounting

Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are automating routine tax work and unlocking smarter ways to approach accounting and tax planning. As intelligent algorithms become more sophisticated at extracting insights from massive datasets, they can optimize processes in areas like:

  • Sales tax management: AI tools can simplify sales tax compliance by automatically pulling invoice data, assigning tax codes, calculating regional rates, and generating returns. Machine learning further enables dynamic sales tax solutions that adjust to regulatory changes.
  • Tax planning and forecasting: AI analyzes historical filings, industry trends, and changing variables to predict optimal strategies for minimizing tax obligations now and in future years.
  • Anomaly detection: By detecting unusual patterns, AI auditing tools can flag potential compliance discrepancies or even tax fraud for further review, while reducing reliance on random audits.

As AI capabilities grow more advanced and user-friendly over time, adoption is expected to accelerate - especially as emerging solutions demonstrate strong return on investment via workload reduction and insight discovery.

Rise of Automated Tax Assistance

Chatbots and virtual assistants are making inroads in the tax domain as well, providing user-friendly help for common sales tax questions or even AI tax preparation. As natural language processing technology continues maturing, automated tax aids can handle an expanding range of use cases like:

  • Estimating quarterly tax payments
  • Explaining deductions eligibility
  • Providing sales tax calculator guidance
  • Pre-populating returns with employee tax documents

Easy-to-use automated assistants have the dual benefit of enhancing user experience while reducing manual effort for tax practitioners. As AI capabilities advance, virtual tax experts may become a frontline resource for convenient self-service as well as assisting professionals with document processing and analysis.

With innovations in blockchain, AI, and process automation reshaping tax compliance, companies can look forward to more strategic, integrated, and frictionless systems for managing cross-border tax obligations in the digital future. While change brings new complexities, emerging technologies promise more intuitive tools to track financial data, meet reporting demands, model tax scenarios, and enable transparency between taxpayers and authorities around the globe.

As we conclude this review of top international tax compliance software solutions, it's worth recapping some key takeaways for finance leaders looking to implement such systems. With complex sales tax laws and rapid AI advancements on the horizon, choosing future-proof solutions is critical.

Prioritize Automation and AI Capabilities

Opt for solutions with advanced automation and AI integration. Features like automated sales tax calculations, exemption certificate management, and AI-powered audit risk assessments will be tremendously valuable for simplifying compliance. Solutions lacking these capabilities will quickly become outdated.

Seek Real-Time Accuracy

Precision and real-time accuracy are imperative, especially regarding sales tax calculations. As tax laws frequently change, ensure chosen solutions proactively update in real-time to prevent non-compliance. Consider SaaS solutions for automatic updates.

Evaluate Scalability

Assess both current needs and future growth plans. Scalable solutions that flexibly accommodate fluctuations in transaction volume are ideal for rapidly expanding businesses. Cloud-based platforms tend to offer the greatest scalability.

Compare Implementation Timelines

Implementation timelines can vary greatly depending on the solution. Accounting for variables like migration, customization, and staff training is essential for realistic rollout planning. Be wary of solutions touting unrealistically fast deployments.

By keeping these key considerations top of mind, finance leaders can confidently navigate the turbulent compliance seas and choose solutions poised to smooth sailing for years ahead. Equipped with cutting-edge automation and AI, businesses can seize new opportunities on the horizon while remaining compliance-ready.

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