SurveyMonkey is a SaaS company providing enterprise survey software solutions with a mission to help individuals and organisations transform feedback into intelligence that drives growth and innovation. Headquartered in the US, its international head office is located in Dublin.
Its People Powered Data platform is recognised globally as helping individuals and businesses to obtain insights and business intelligence in areas from market research, audience polling, competitive analysis or customer and employee feedback. The brand has seen phenomenal success and it now has over 17 million active users, 713,217 paying customers as of Q3 2019, and over 335,000 organisations using it in 190 territories across the globe.
Selling both B2C and B2B digital services across different territories can be a challenge when managing tax liabilities. Tax rules are specific to each country’s individual taxing authority and with SurveyMonkey customers spanning over 190 different regions, managing tax liabilities was a time consuming task.
In the early days, SurveyMonkey took an in-house approach to manage its VAT/GST collection, filing, and remittance. This meant internal teams validated VAT/GST business numbers and reporting was collated from a variety of different systems. These were then compiled into the tax reports required for filing in the relevant taxing jurisdictions where tax thresholds were met - the entire process was a series of multiple interactions and interventions.
At the time of checkout business customers were asked to add their VAT/ GST number and the sale would then be processed excluding country VAT/ GST applying the reverse charge rule. VAT numbers were then validated by accessing the VIES database and checking the VAT number was valid for tax purposes. If the number was entered incorrectly by the customer, the team would then reach out directly to the customer to obtain the correct number.
This approach worked effectively for a period of time. However, as rapid business growth was achieved, tax obligations with different tax authorities and regimes also grew.
According to David Burke, Director of Accounting & Finance at SurveyMonkey, changes to the international tax environment, specifically on digital services driven by the G20 and OECD BEPS framework meant that VAT/GST compliance was also becoming more complex. “With 40+ countries introducing the digital VAT/GST laws and more countries implementing the new rules, we needed help to navigate this new tax environment. We also required help developing robust solutions to location-specific tax rules, and Taxamo by Vertex has been a great help to us on this front.”
While individual VAT/GST number validation was time-consuming in itself, the SurveyMonkey finance and accounting team were also managing and tracking their tax obligations in new countries as sales grew.
The growing success of company sales in new regions was also reflected in the growing need to track sales against tax thresholds in each region and the obligation to register for tax once these thresholds were met. It was clear that keeping up with these growing tax obligations was going to require the implementation of a scalable and flexible process that could streamline tax compliance across the sales process.