When I am referred in to a new client, the client and I go through a set of diagnostic questions designed to help us evaluate the company’s taxable presence, current sales tax compliance, and historical sales tax exposure. Often times, as I begin asking the CFO, Controller or tax personnel these questions, I get a blank stare, which tells me that they were unaware that the company has sales tax compliance responsibilities in multiple states.
YOU DON’T KNOW THAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Corporate Tax and Financial Personnel Don’t Know What They Don’t Know.
One important guideline I’ve learned in my 20+ years of providing sales tax advice is that, when it comes to sales tax, “Corporate Tax and Financial Personnel Don’t Know What They Don’t Know.”
Companies hire payroll service providers to handle payroll tax, CPAs to handle corporate taxes, but no one addresses sales and use tax until an auditor knocks on their door. And by then, much of the damage is done, and the Company finds itself in a reactive mode - “putting out fires”. It is my job to educate companies, but companies must know that I exist and they must know and want to meet with me. As someone wiser than me said a long time ago, “When we know better, we do better.” At a minimum, we can make more informed decisions regarding risk, compliance and contingent liabilities.