Gautam Mukherjee, General Manager - Global Delivery, Avalara Technologies Pvt Ltd explains on the need for a paperless tax compliance and the challenges that the clients face post GST roll-out.
Q: You have been providing cloud-based tax compliance solutions to companies across the globe. What are the benefits that companies using your applications can accrue?
Gautam Mukherjee: Avalara’s only business worldwide is indirect tax compliance. Across the globe, we provide SaaS based solutions to all aspects of compliance –from determination to filing returns to the actual payment of taxes on behalf of customers where permitted. For Indian customers battling with GST, we bring to them a wealth of experience when it comes to the compliance automation. The value of that experience will become evident as we collectively work through the teething pains of the law.
Q: Why is there a need for a paperless tax compliance?
GM: GST in its core is a fully paperless tax system. The GST return PDFs published by the GSTN do not in practice actually exist – those are provided as a mental crutch to help in the adoption of GST. The filing of an actual return is a computer executing an application interface call. Given this, there is no choice as to whether or not a company will shift to paperless compliance under GST – that shifts if absolutely required.
Avalara’s long history of helping customers move their tax compliance into the cloud and get rid of any form of paper gives us a unique position with India GST. We are accustomed to translating business to technical requirements in a way that allows customers to own and maintain their own paperless compliance quickly and without error.
Q: What is your business model?
GM: In respect to India GST, we are a pure SaaS provider, with a pay-per- use pricing for our TrustFileGST compliance solution that is easy to understand and scales with our customers’ business. While we have an inside sales team, world-wide we rely for much of our business on our partner channels, and here in India that is also the case. We are building a thriving network of both technology partners, such as ERP publishers and end- to-end solution providers, as well as marketing and sales partners who refer customers to us.
Q: Please tell us about the challenges vis-a- vis clients. How do you address them?
GM: The biggest challenge for our clients to date has been navigating the complexities of the GST returns, especially in the translation of ERP data and paper invoices into the GST compliant electronically transmittable formats. Our clients came up with their own unique scenarios. Some needed help interpreting the GST rules and regulations, others required guidance in organising data, and a few needed assistance in adding the data
elements, which they had never seen before. In all these cases, as we helped customers resolve their queries, we have worked to fold those learnings back into our service for the benefit of all the customers who will encounter those same challenges in subsequent filings.
Q: Have you created any specific application that can help companies to comply with the GST law?
GM: Absolutely. Our TrustFile GST solution is a SaaS based service that provides end-to-end GST Returns Compliance automation.
Q: How do you see your business growing up post GST roll-out?
GM: Over time, we expect to expand our India based services to mirror that various offerings we provide worldwide. India GST is a complex system with heavy compliance requirements that touch all aspects of a business. This is also a tax regime that continues to see a rapid rate of change in all respects, from tax rate adjustments to rule and form changes. We have a lot of experience in successfully monitoring and incorporating those
sorts of changes into our services well in advance of our customers’ needs. This and our long experience uniquely positions us to provide value added services on top of and alongside our already existing TrustFile GST solution that help automate and reduce the compliance burdens of GST and allow companied to focus on their core competence.
Q: Do you also have MSME clients? How challenging is GST compliance for them? What should be done to make them GST ready?
GM: The MSME market has been a focus for us from the very beginning of our business. Over a decade ago, in North America we provided services to those smaller businesses when other companies saw no future in it. We proved them wrong then and expect to do so again here in India. There are many exceptions to the 20 lakh threshold for GST compliance, and many of the MSME businesses that previously expected to not register are going to find that a requirement. The GST compliance requirements for a small business are largely the same as are required for a big business. But for smaller businesses the stakes are much higher, as any delay claiming input tax credits could result in a significant impact to their available operating capital.
Our solution has from inception strove to bring automation within reach for large and small businesses alike. TrustFile GST has special offerings for MSME customer.