Avalara vs Integrated Tax


[I waited 3 months after the announcement of 1.5 and integration with Avalara to post about it, but I think I came off more negatively than I intended. I’ve edited it to be more clear and less annoying.]

I would like Sonar to have more tax [and fee] calculation capability built in. It does not have enough in stock form, and I don’t think I need the jump to Avalara to accomplish my fairly standard tax [and fee] tasks.

I am pro-service-integration, but as an improvement to a system, not as a necessity. For example, I am am about to sign up with Avalara to calculate my taxes… since Sonar doesn’t have any mechanisms for tax calculation beyond the very basic functions. I’m doing very basic sales tax and phone taxes and fees (as I expect many others do). Avalara appears to have great capabilities, but I would much rather see improved integrated improvements than more integrations.

When reading release notes, I am more excited about internal functional improvements [and not excited about more integrations].



I think it’s unrealistic to look at the services of a company like Avalara and think that Sonar would ever have something that comprehensive. I doubt you’d find any billing platform in the world that has something even remotely close to their capabilities.

What is missing from the built in Sonar mechanisms for tax calculations that is forcing you in that direction?



To be clear, I didn’t mean I expected Sonar to have equivalent capability to Avalara, but still more than it currently has. I came from Plat (still use it for things like domain, hosting, and one-off billing), and it has much more flexibility with the tax/fee calculations. Some examples:

  • Minimum amount before tax is calculated (i.e., first $25 is exempt)
  • Whether the charge is subject to another tax (i.e., a state might charge sales tax on a specific fee)
  • Whether the charge is only applied to a specific type of service
  • Whether the charge persists when a customer is tax-exempt

There are other capabilities there that I don’t use, but I’m sure others find useful.


We have minimum amount before the tax is calculated.
We have taxes only on specific types of services.

I’m not sure I follow the charge on a tax exempt customer piece.


You’re right, there is a partial implementation (applying only to an individual service). My state exempts the amount only once, so if you have 2x qualified services, the exemption only applies to the monthly total. I think TX might have a similar calculation.

You’re right, this was my mistake. I previously had to do a work-around that made me think this was not available. I see that it is.

Some “taxes” or fees should still be charged if a customer is exempt from sales tax. [Currently, Sonar removes anything in the tax configuration if the customer is labeled tax exempt.]

Fees? When will we be able to create fees?

If it’s not a tax, but a fee, you would just add it as a service and use packages if it’s something you always include. Taxes are explicitly for taxes, so it will remove them if the user is flagged as tax exempt.

If there are things you need, please submit them into the feature request tool. Avalara isn’t there as a workaround, it’s there for customers with complex taxation needs that can’t be handled through Sonar, or for people that don’t want to have to track all the tax requirements themselves.


I currently have these things added as services, but I do not think they belong there. It seems common for telecom bills to have “taxes and fees” in one category. I think they belong together and should be tracked together and reported together.

Anyhow, I’ll spend some time in receptive as suggested.


Maybe they don’t, but they don’t belong in taxes either if they’re not taxes (since we explicitly separate taxes for tax reporting and dealing with tax exemption.) Services would be the sanest place for them in the current release.


Does “tax-exempt” status exempt you from all taxes or just certain taxes? I think non-profits are sales-tax exempt, but does that waive their telecom-related taxes? Technically, USF isn’t a tax, so it shouldn’t be waived with a blanket tax-exemption status.


If you’re using Avalara, you have the option of the types of tax to exempt from.


To follow up on Simon’s response for clarity:

If you are not using Avalara, tax-exempt applies to ALL taxes in the system.