TaxCloud's APIs - What is an API?

What's an API
TaxCloud has several Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to calculate the sales tax when a customer buys something - but first, let's answer a common question: What's an API?

In computer programming, an API is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components. A good API facilitates computer programming by providing the building blocks necessary for an application to work properly. The programmers' job is to put these building blocks together in an efficient manner that provides end-users with a positive experience.

A common analogy to explain how APIs work is that of a waiter at a restaurant. For example, you tell the waiter what you want to eat and he/she writes it down (just like you complete the data fields in an API so it can get the information you want), the waiter then gives your order to a chef (like an API delivers your request to a database), the chef prepares your food (the database computes the data you entered) and then the waiter returns with your food (the API returns with the answer/ information you requested).

Below is a list of TaxCloud's most used APIs (please visit TaxCloud's developer site for more information):

  1. Address Verification API - A valid shipping address must be provided at checkout to determine the most accurate sales tax. TaxCloud's Address Verification API works with your shopping cart to ensure customers enter addresses correctly and asks customers to confirm an address if it's unrecognized by our database. Note, however, that TaxCloud never stops a transaction from proceeding. It merely asks customers to confirm an address and then provides the most accurate sales tax amount possible with the information provided.
  2. Lookup API Call - A “TaxCloud Lookup” is an API call sent to TaxCloud from a merchant to determine the sales tax amount of at least one product or service. A Lookup API call considers all relevant information provided by the merchant to determine the tax amount due: e.g. origin address, shipping address, item quantity, item taxability, and item dollar amount.
  3. Duplicate Lookup Calls - A "Duplicate Lookup" is an original Lookup sent to TaxCloud multiple times. There is no reason to send duplicate API calls, so please talk to your developers if TaxCloud notifies you of duplicate Lookup calls. 

    There are various reasons why a Lookup call might be sent erroneously, but they're almost always tied to shopping cart settings/ configuration. For example, duplicate API calls sometimes occur after a customer places an item in his/her shopping cart but then continues shopping, and the merchant’s website (shopping cart) is designed to send a new Lookup request each time the customer loads a new page as he/she browses the website's products.
  4. APIs for Order Completion - (Authorized and Captured; or AuthorizedWithCapture). These APIs let TaxCloud know when a customer has completed his/ her purchase and your store has collected the appropriate amount of sales tax. (Important: The Captured API call is required to prepare your sales tax reports and returns, regardless of who actually files your sales tax returns.)

    The "Authorized" API call is sent to TaxCloud when a customer's payment instrument has been successfully processed. The "Captured" API call is sent to TaxCloud when a customer's order has been shipped. However, many merchants consider an item to be 'shipped' as soon as the customer's payment instrument is processed, so they combined the Authorized call and the Captured call into AuthorizedWithCapture.
  5. Returns - This step occurs when an order is canceled or modified after it was completed (after the Captured call). Once a return is initiated through the store's cart admin panel, the store alerts TaxCloud and we modify our transaction records accordingly.