Skip to main content
Avalara Help Center

Prepare a return

This article applies to:Avalara Returns for Accountants

After you've reconciled and locked the liability summary, it's time to prepare the return. If Returns for Accountants detects that a return is ready to be filed without any manual adjustments, the status is automatically changed to Ready for filing. If a return needs to be manually prepared, it's pre-populated with data based on the transactions for the filing period, so you can easily review it before filing. Use the form editor to fix any problems or make adjustments, such as changing the gross sales amount or deduction breakouts.

Once the return has been prepared, download it and send it to your client for approval.

Before you begin


  1. In Returns for Accountants, go to Returns > Filing Tasks.
  2. Use the Filters pane to identify the company and tax period.
    • Optional criteria can be included to locate the summaries you want to review.
    • For example, filter to find returns with the status Ready for Prep, which means that the return has variances or errors that must be resolved before filing.
  3. Find a return with the status Ready for Prep, then select the form name in the Form column to open the return editor.
    The return form is pre-filled with company information (such as the name, address, and registration ID) from the filing calendar, and with sales and liability data from transactions.



    Returns with a status of Pending Approval, Dirty, Building Liability, or Building Return need to be locked before you can use the return editor to prepare the return.

  4. Select Side Pane to open a side pane with information that may be helpful when preparing the return.
    This includes the following sections:
    • Overrides: A list of each field that has been edited. Select the field name to jump to the field in the return editor, or select the X to the left of the field name to delete the changes you made to the field.
    • Validations: A list of warning and errors that should be reviewed or resolved before filing the return.
      • For example, a validation error is displayed if the local taxable amount exceeds the state taxable amount.
      • Validation messages with a Severity of Warning should be reviewed before filing, but shouldn't prevent filing.
    • Prep details: A comparison of the sales and liability details from the liability summary and the return form editor.
    • Return details: Basic information about the return, such as the company name, return form, filing period, filing frequency, and filing method.
    • Credits not applied: A list of transactions with negative liability that are not applied to the return liability.
  5. To jump to a different page, select a page number above the return.
  6. Review and edit each field of the return form, as needed. See State returns information for Returns for Accountants for help with specific returns.
    • Fields highlighted in blue can be edited.
    • Fields highlighted in gray aren't editable, and are generally updated automatically when you adjust a blue field.
    • If you need to directly edit any of the gray fields, select the Edit All option.
      Make sure to carefully review all changes you make when using this option, because it allows you to make changes that can result in the state Department of Revenue rejecting the return.

      Tip icon


      The form recalculates each time you change an amount on the form. For more complex returns, Avalara recommends selecting the Autocalc Off or Autocalc Partial options when preparing the return. Once the return has been prepared, select Autocalc Full and then click the play icon to recalculate with any adjustments you made.

  7. To see which other fields are impacted when you make an adjustment:
    1. Select the gear icon to open the More actions menu.
    2. Adjust the Field Dependencies numbers.
      The blue number represents upstream changes, and the red number represents downstream changes. Avalara recommends selecting 1 for both numbers.
    3. Select Close to save your changes.
  8. After making the necessary adjustments, review the details in the Validations and Prep Details sections of the Side Pane
  9. To download a copy of the prepared return, select the gear icon and then click Download PDF.
  10. When you're done, select one of the following options:
    • Save: This saves your changes, without changing the status of the filing task.
      This option is useful if the return needs to be reviewed by the client or a senior analyst before it's filed.
    • Ready for Filing: This saves your changes, and changes the status of the filing task to Ready for Filing.
      This option is available only if the current status of the filing task is Ready for Prep. If you don't see the Ready for Filing button, make sure you've locked the liability summary.

Now that you've prepared the return, you're ready to file.

  • Was this article helpful?