The TaxJar Approach to Making Tough Decisions

by Ashley Alongi June 13, 2019


It’s part of our culture and it’s part of the DNA of everyone who works at TaxJar. It’s also why we felt the need to explain a decision that affected both the employees at TaxJar and the tens of thousands of customers that we support every month.
If you logged into TaxJar in March 2019, you may have noticed that for a short time customers were unable to add new states to AutoFile (our service where we automatically file your sales tax returns on your behalf). This delay did not affect our current AutoFile filings, but temporarily delayed the window to enroll for our service in additional new states.

What happened?

Some customers hardly noticed. But many of our customers (especially our newest customers), did notice and were understandably frustrated and confused. A lot of time and thoughtful consideration went into making the decision, so we’d like to take some time to explain why we made this choice and what kind of company we are because of it.

How did we get here?

We’ve been in high-growth mode since the beginning. We knew that there was a stagnant sales tax market that needed innovation, easier-to-use technology and modernization to keep up with today’s modern eCommerce business. We knew folks wanted change, but we perhaps underestimated how ready the market was for an alternative like TaxJar.  
Growing from nothing to supporting nearly 20,000 customers in just a handful of years has been an opportunity and a responsibility that we don’t take lightly and one we’ve shown we can do well, at scale. Customer interest in TaxJar after the Wayfair v. South Dakota decision certainly picked up, but well before the decision, our team has always been focused on supporting the thousands of new customers that come to TaxJar each month.  Scale is what we were built for, and this delay was no exception to our commitment here.
Earlier this year we announced our $60M Series A funding round backed by Insight Venture Partners. Moving forward with a proven partner that has helped hundreds of other high-growth technology businesses like TaxJar scale makes us eager to see what the future holds. We have the right business, team, and strategy in place, and we’re here for the long-haul.
Now, let’s talk a bit more about what this decision meant to us, and more importantly, how it shows the different kind of business we’re building here at TaxJar.

Our employees matter to us. A lot.

We’re all human.  We understand what it’s like to be a customer and we know full well that if our employees are not happy, respected, and cared for, then the customer experience will suffer.  Our customers continue to tell us that they choose TaxJar because of the genuinely helpful and friendly conversations with our sales and support teams.

We want to build a partnership with those that want to do business with us, and that share our core values.  

We understand that a healthy employee culture contributes to long-term company success. 

Technology is only as good as the humans that manage it.

We pride ourselves on being a technology company first. We’ve built an incredible automated filing engine that powers tens of thousands of sales tax returns for customers each month with precision and accuracy that humans can only dream of.
While most of our process is fully automated, as with all thoughtful automation, there is always an element of human oversight. As such, we employ an extraordinary team of talented filing experts who dedicate their time to making sure every AutoFile customer has the best experience possible, from enrollment to completed filing. It’s critically important to ensure the technology works as intended, and our AutoFile team makes it look easy.
However, to keep up with our growing demand, this team was working overtime. On weekends, holidays, and many many late nights. We worked diligently to scale our AutoFile team, but we soon realized we fell behind while chasing a continually moving target.  
As April drew near, we chose to make a decision that protected both our employees and current AutoFile customers. Through delaying accepting new AutoFile enrollments for this month, our AutoFile team was able to take a breath, reset, and invest time in the people and processes needed to improve the service for everyone.  We knew this wouldn’t be acceptable to all customers, but for us, this was the right move.

We’ve learned from this, too.  

Since we made the decision, we heard from our customers about the impact this delay had on their business. What we were more surprised to learn was how many of our customers understood and respected why we made this decision. It’s in our DNA to be honest and truthful and all of our customers deserve this level of transparency.  It’s how we do business and our customers have come to expect this from us. 

We’re ready for the future

Looking forward, we’ve aggressively staffed our AutoFile team above our projections solely to prepare for future growth. This was the first time we’ve ever had to delay AutoFile enrollments, and it’s our goal to never need to choose this path again. We’re also looking ahead and continually improving our technology and building our teams to support the future of TaxJar.
There is no other sales tax automation company in the world that supports the volume of customers that we do and at unprecedented customer satisfaction levels like TaxJar. We’ve proven that we know how to build a reliable sales tax solution, and there is no question on where we will go as a business from here.
We want to assure you that we’re committed to the future of AutoFile, TaxJar, and to supporting your business as we grow together. But we also want you to know that we’re a different type of partner. One that is human and truly cares about both employees and customers.
If you hear what may sound like lies or exaggerated claims about this delay for TaxJar, we invite you to come talk with us. We’re disappointed when we hear our competitors spreading false rumors, but we also won’t play those games. If doing business with a company that practices transparency and lives their core values out loud is important to you, come join us. 

More from Life at TaxJar

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

by Heather Wilson, CMP June 22, 2021

Read case study

From Mutual Assessment to Mutual Interview

by Heather Wilson, CMP June 7, 2021

Read case study

How our Team Asked us to Honor Black History Month

by Heather Wilson, CMP February 28, 2021

Read case study