Using Data to Unlock Automated Tax Credit Experiences

February 2, 2023
0 min read
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Learn how tax credit service providers are building better, more automated experiences for small and medium businesses seeking Employee Retention Credit relief.

Tax credit service providers offer a critical lifeline

As the world braces for a potential recession, many small and medium-sized businesses are still grappling with the lingering effects of quarantine regulations, pandemic-related shutdowns, and subsequent declines in revenue. Fortunately, some of the relief programs the U.S. government introduced during the pandemic are still in effect, including the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)—and many SMBs are relying on tax credit service providers more than ever to help them make the most of the assistance available.

But as more service providers enter an already crowded space, they are quickly finding that they can’t compete for SMBs’ business if they don’t offer the modern, automated experiences that SMBs have come to expect. Among the most important automations that tax credit service providers can provide is leveraging SMBs’ own accounting and employment data to seamlessly determine eligibility and apply for ERC and other programs. The key—and challenge—is accessing that data.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how high-quality integrations with SMBs’ accounting and employment systems are helping tax credit service providers like yourself retrieve the real-time data needed to make fast, accurate ERC eligibility determinations, auto-fill application forms, and provide a best-in-class experience to SMBs when they need it most.

Automate the collection and processing of accounting data

One of the methods of determining ERC eligibility is demonstrating a significant decline in gross receipts compared to the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. Meanwhile, the ERC application calls for company financial data, including data from profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow documentation, expense reports, and income statements for the period in which the SMB is seeking relief.

In other words, determining eligibility and applying for ERC is highly dependent on providing detailed, accurate accounting data. Without the right technology in place, obtaining said data is a laborious undertaking that requires digging through financial paperwork, exporting and uploading piecemeal datasets, and/or manually entering data field by field. Not only does this put undue strain on resource-strapped SMBs, it comes with a high risk of human error, which may mean having to repeat the application process or worse: being denied the tax credit altogether.

Tax credit service providers can mitigate these pain points by implementing API integrations with SMB accounting systems like QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, and NetSuite. In doing so, you can instantly and automatically retrieve all of the historical and real-time data points needed. In turn, SMBs get faster eligibility determinations, quicker access to funds, and are relieved of the burdens of tracking down the information themselves.

Streamline the sharing of HRIS and payroll data

In addition to accounting data, the ERC application requires businesses to provide robust employment data—a catchall term for the employee directory and payroll information stored in SMBs’ HR and payroll systems like ADP, Gusto, Paychex, and more. Like accounting data, manually pulling and uploading employment data into an application is a tedious resource-drain for SMBs.

Through API integrations with SMBs’ employment systems, you can meet the requirements of the ERC application while relieving SMBs of the friction and hassles of manual data retrieval. Built properly, integrations with employment systems can instantly retrieve:

  • Gross wages per employee
  • Benefits enrollment status, employer contributions, and benefits-related payroll deductions per employee
  • Employee eligibility status

And because this data is coming directly from the system of record, you can rest assured that the data retrieved is accurate.

What to consider in your integration strategy

Tax credit service providers have two choices: you can build integrations to accounting, HRIS, and payroll systems yourself or outsource the integrations to trusted integration partners. Before determining which approach to take, it’s important to consider the following factors:

Market fragmentation
The U.S. alone is home to over 5,700 HRIS and payroll providers, and the top three systems only have a 44% share of the market. That leaves a huge long-tail, with each other provider accounting for no more than 4% of the market. U.S. accounting software is less fragmented but is likewise seeing increased competition and an expanding long-tail. In other words, covering your customer base in a meaningful way will mean building integrations with potentially dozens or hundreds of systems.

Your internal capacity
When integrating with an employment or accounting system, you can expect the project to take a minimum of three months for a basic data pull and anywhere from six to nine months to achieve full read-and-write access. Before you set out to build, you’ll want to make sure you have the capacity to take on the work as well as flexibility in your go-to-market timeline—keeping in mind that time spent on integrations is time you could otherwise devote to perfecting and evolving your core product.

The complexities of data mapping
Every accounting platform runs on a different dataset, each with its own approach to naming and structure. Standardizing this data so that it is usable by your application is one of the more intricate and important aspects of integrations, and it’s easy to get wrong.

The cost of building
Integrations come with a hefty price tag when you consider the average engineer’s salary and the hours they spend establishing data connections. If you assume that three engineers will work on an integration for three months, that puts the soft costs of just your initial buildout in the ballpark of $200,000. Then, there are the ongoing costs to consider, like the fees many employment and accounting systems charge to use their API.

The benefits of outsourcing system integrations

Outsourcing integrations allows you to avoid these barriers and complications. Universal APIs, a type of integration partner, offer a one-to-many solution that can get you to market faster and more cost-effectively. In effect, a single integration with a universal API connects you to a multitude of systems at once, saving you the hassle of building and maintaining each connection yourself.

Implemented together, Codat’s universal Accounting API and Finch’s universal API for employment systems offer tax credit service providers a distinct advantage. Because we are experts in our respective fields, we understand the nuances and complexities of employment and accounting systems like no one else. In turn, we pull, map, and standardize higher quality, more actionable data and offer deeper data coverage that meets all of your data requirements—for the ERC and beyond—without compromise. Perhaps most importantly, Codat and Finch afford you turnkey accounting and employment integration solutions that meet your tax credit data needs in a fraction of the time it would take to build in-house, allowing you to invest more time, money, and focus on your application and the exceptional experiences you’re offering your customers.

In the end, building with Codat and Finch gives you the tools you need to get to market faster, onboard SMBs faster, cover more of the accounting and employment systems your customers use, and, ultimately, help your customers claim the tax credits that are so crucial to their growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about market-leading accounting integrations, contact Codat today. For the most reliable employment system integrations, sign up to retrieve your free sandbox API keys or reach out to Finch with questions.

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