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Tax Provision

Case Study: Hallstar

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Hallstar Makes Accurate Calculations and Saves 50% of Time with Exactera Tax Provision

Who says an understaffed tax department can’t conquer it all? At Hallstar, a chemical manufacturer in Chicago, Jason Cooper is a one-man show, responsible for, well, everything: the income tax return, R&D tax credits, and of course, the income tax provision. And he gets it all done.

His secret? Tax technology.

“Being a one-person tax department can be overbearing. That’s why I rely on technology,” he says. “I have very broad responsibilities, so I need tax software.”

When Cooper first joined the company two and a half years ago, the income tax provision was a particularly difficult challenge. The company was calculating it manually.

“We used an Excel workbook, which wasn’t very fun. The workbook wasn’t my design. I inherited it from a prior set of consultants,” he says. “It was wrought with issues. It had a lot of manual inputs, had a lot of data that didn’t roll over properly. It wasn’t a very reliable process, and it wasn’t easy to put together.”

The process was time-consuming and stressful, and not at all conducive to automation. Even worse: It was creating inaccuracies, which could lead to trouble with auditors and put the company at risk of financial restatements.

“The way we were doing it in the workbook was creating a lot of errors to the extent that we couldn’t even pinpoint the errors,” he says.

Cooper believed the process’ potential for inaccuracies presented a significant problem—one that a software solution would easily solve. “Whenever I can automate or use a software solution for a problem, that’s always my first choice.”

But while calculating the tax provision solely through manual formulas and spreadsheets made the calculation susceptible to error, Cooper knew that Excel still played an integral role in the tax provision process. So, he wasn’t looking for technology to replace the traditional program—he wanted tax provision software that would seamlessly work with it.

The Right Software

Cooper sought a software solution that would save him time, automate redundancies, and, of course, produce an accurate calculation. As a one-person band, he didn’t have time to invest in mastering complicated technology. He wanted something that was easy to use—and something that would work well with Excel. “I wanted it to have a clean and easily understandable interface, one that made the calculations easy and that made the synchronization between Excel and the software easy.”

He considered a few popular tax provision software solutions, but ultimately enlisted Exactera Tax Provision. “I had demoed with other software solutions, and I felt Exactera was the most impressive because it was the most feature rich. I was especially impressed with interactive maps displaying the ETRs in countries where we operated. I also liked the automated foreign-exchange rates in the rich-reporting interface, and the ease of workflow between Excel and the software.”

Big Benefits

A tech-savvy tax expert, Cooper’s goal was to work with Exactera’s tax provision experts on the software configuration and implementation, and then run with it on his own. While implementation took slightly longer than he thought, he was extremely happy with the result.

“When it came back, it was spot on. It matched to the penny with our provision from Fiscal 22,” he says.

Switching to software, Cooper experienced the automation and accuracy he needed, and he was also able to customize his Excel workbooks to reflect the software, so he could work back and forth between them. “I redesigned the Excel workbook made by our previous consultants. The one that I built mirrored the way the software works so they could be companions to one another.”

Exactera Tax Provision enabled him to work more efficiently. “With Exactera, we saved roughly 50% of the time it had previously taken to complete the provision, and that’s a conservative estimate.”

Cooper plans to put that extra time toward calculating Hallstar’s quarterly provision—something he never had time to do previously. “Before we just kind of did quarterlies manually and we did it at a very high and rough level just to get a reasonable estimate in,” he says. “But the software will help us get to a far more accurate estimate. Our estimated payments will be right in line with our activity for the year, so we won’t have any significant overpayments or underpayments at year-end.”

Thanks to Exactera’s tax provision software, Cooper can do more without adding headcount. He’s able to save time, automate redundancies, and he can still work with Excel—only now, with a seamless workflow and accurate calculations.

Request a free two-week trial of Exactera Tax Provision and see how your next tax provision can be made easier and more accurate. The only thing you have to lose is the stress!