Black Friday shopping revenues were down by about a billion dollars this year compared with last year, but that wasn’t the worst news for some retailers who rely on automated sales tax software.

The maker of the software that caused the problem, Avalara, admitted to “intermittent increased latency” on Friday and through the weekend, but retailers said the software created error messages during checkout so frequently that many stores had to turn the software off.

Long lines of people in the throes of Black Friday emotions can easily erupt into a bad temper and even violence, and having to wait while store clerks try unsuccessfully to check customers out is a strong trigger.

So the retailers just turned off the software and didn’t charge sales tax on Black Friday. Some stores continued this policy through the weekend, either because Saturday customers demanded the same deal their friends had gotten the day before, or because that intermittently increased latency continued to plague them.

Obviously, these retailers don’t have the option of explaining to the states where they have nexus and moving on. They will have to pay that sales tax — in most cases, significantly more than they usually collect — out of their own pockets.

They’ll also have to calculate it somehow and identify and correct all the errors resulting from this catastrophe.

This may not happen often, but it’s just one more reason to explore other options. SalesTaxDataLINK has a better way to calculate sales taxes. Contact us today… there are still plenty of shopping days.

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