The Streamline Sales Tax Governing Board is the new, multi-state agency charged with simplifying the collection of state and local sales taxes. Since this will impact ecommerce businesses, we’ve asked its Executive Director, Scott Peterson, a few questions.
Tell us, once more, what the SSTP is?
What was formally known as the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, and is now the Streamline Sales Tax Governing Board, is an effort by states and businesses to reduce the business burden in the collection and administration of state and local sales taxes. This includes simplifying administrative procedures, adopting uniform administrative procedures and definitions, and encouraging the development of software solutions that assist retailers in their sales tax administration. All sales tax states, except Colorado, participate in some form or another in Streamline.
How does it affect smaller ecommerce firms?
In some way or another every business, regardless of how they conduct sales, is impacted by Streamline. None of the uniformity or simplification initiatives are geared towards any one type of business, such as ecommerce businesses. The initiatives apply to them all. The common definitions and common administrative procedures should benefit every business that conducts business in multiple states.
Is there software available to help me compute tax sales?
There are several companies that currently sell software to assist a business in collecting sales tax. One of the critical jobs for the Governing Board is to evaluate those products, and to then allow the companies that sell that software to say that their systems are certified by the Governing Board for accuracy. Any business that used certified software would not be held liable for any errors that exist in that software and would not be audited for sales they run through that software. In addition, the states intend to help pay for the software. The Governing Board is evaluating software owned by Exactor, Avalara, EDS and Taxware, and hopes to work with other companies in the future.
What resources are available to help smaller ecommerce firms understand this issue?
The Governing Board has a web site, streamlinedsalestax.org, that contains a lot of useful information.
Any other thoughts for our readers?
Whether a business collects sales tax in one state or forty states, that business should be interested in making that process as simple as possible. Streamline’s goal is to bring simplicity and uniformity to state and local sales tax systems.