August 28th, 2020

While writing the first issue of ZacTax Roundup (our new open-to-the-public newsletter) about the impact of the Covid-19 closures on local sales tax collections, we came across this database of taxpayers currently registered with the Texas Comptroller as marketplace providers. With full backend access to ZacTax, it was trivial for us to pull payment totals for our clients using this list and perform in-depth analysis on it.

But that's not necessarily the case for our users. The easiest option would probably have been to download the raw data from ZacTax and create a lookup table in Excel to match and filter the marketplace taxpayer IDs with their own taxpayers. Still very doable, since we are dedicated to making it easy to get your data out of ZacTax. But not everyone is (or wants to be) a power user. 

So we got to work thinking about how this could be made easier, both in this specific instance (denoting marketplace providers) and perhaps for other arbitrary classifications in the future. It turns out, not only has ZacTax had exactly what we needed for this since version 1.0, it's something that most of us #use #every #day: tagging.

From tagging blog posts to hashtagging your "no-filter" Instagram photos, nearly everyone is familiar with this handy, free-form taxonomic method.

In the early days of ZacTax, we allowed users to attach tags to taxpayers primarily for improving search. Having limited utility, it wasn't heavily used at the time. So we removed the ability for users to add tags, but we didn't get rid of tagging. We still rely on tagging heavily throughout ZacTax for internal uses (sales tax audit being one example).

Tagging #marketplace providers

As a proof of concept, we wrote a simple script that downloads this table of marketplace providers and tags each one present in your sales tax data with #marketplace. Then we added search support for tags in the monthly taxpayer breakdown table:

This simple act will show you all of the marketplace providers paying your city, county, or special district.

Once we decided to repurpose (and supercharge) our support for tagging, we realized that this would actually help with several feature requests we're currently in the design-state for.

What's next?

Simply searching by tag wasn't enough to make tagging useful in ZacTax v1, and we don't expect it to be useful enough to keep around in v3 either. Tagging should be just another way to categorize your data, no different than the built-in classifications we provide such as by industry or geography. Aggregation, reporting, and more should be available by tags, too.

We're currently working on a Super Top Secret project (which we'll start previewing in the coming weeks), the release of which will include full, supercharged tagging support across ZacTax. 

In the meantime, take a look at those marketplace providers for yourself!

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