Kill Bill Certified for Avalara’s Sales Tax Automation Solution

Kill Bill Certified for Avalara’s Sales Tax Automation Solution

Kill Bill’s plugin architecture has grown significantly over the past couple of years. We already have about 50 open-source plugins extending Kill Bill with new features and offering tight integrations with payment gateways, fraud detection solutions, etc. (and we have first-hand knowledge of well over a dozen closed-source plugins, developed by companies we have advised). Not all plugins are created equal though. Some can be very simple (e.g. send an email when an invoice is generated), others — very complex (e.g. the Adyen plugin, which provides more than 250 payment methods worldwide). For some of these more advanced ones, that integrate with third-party solutions, we recently started formal review and certification processes. The goal of the process is twofolds. First, it gives us direct access to the vendor technical team, which helps us make sure the connector is optimized for that particular integration. Second, it gives us an opportunity to educate the partner on Kill Bill and on the very unique open-source nature of the project. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have added Avalara to the list of such certified integrations. To give you a peek of the work that happened behind the scenes, we had our initial introduction meeting on April 15th (surprisingly enough!) of this year and finalized the certification last week. During this time, we made sure the Avatax™ plugin passed all the required integration tests and verified that the data from Kill Bill is mapped correctly to the generated tax documents. The Avalara team also educated us on some of the more advanced sales topics that we need to keep in mind...
A primer on sales tax

A primer on sales tax

Every so often, the topic of tax comes up on our mailing-list. People wonder why Kill Bill doesn’t have a built-in tax module and how existing users have worked around it. We actually know some companies have implemented their own tax plugin. While this approach may work if you have very few jurisdictions to worry about and a limited product catalog, for the vast majority of cases, we recommend simply outsourcing your tax calculations altogether: in practice, determining your tax assessment is a really hard problem. Case in point: the New York State imposes sales tax on sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten. But what is considered a sandwich? A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich [sic] (Tax Bulletin ST-835). Surprisingly, this includes burritos (but not tacos!). And if you ask your plain bagel to be sliced, it’d cost 8.875% more as sales tax would apply on a grocery item which has just become a sandwich. NPR’s Planet Money ran a great story on the topic last year (Episode 554: How The Burrito Became A Sandwich): do check it out for a fun history of the sales tax and incredible anecdotes, including how a pizza place rebranded itself as a bakery and how a food delivery service started serving unassembled wraps, both just to avoid paying taxes. Granted, these edge cases may seem remote if you are running an e-commerce, but local tax laws could impact your business nonetheless (think about the VAT 2015 changes we just went through)....