Personalized Medicine for the Automatic Expense Analysis World
All expenses are not created equal. Some require special attention while others are simple and easy to handle. This is because every expense, which comes in a form of a receipt or invoice, has its own unique circumstances. Expenses from mass commute travel such as bus and train tickets are usually a very simple document with not too many words, if any, spread across a wide area with colorful markings with an occasional number denoting the trip fare. While expenses from accommodation such as hotel proforma invoices may easily contain hundreds of words and full sentences, on top of many numeric denotations and breakdowns of the expense. These two stark examples show the spread of attention that each expense needs to receive if VAT recovery is the goal.
Two expenses that are vastly different in the amount of information they contain
At Way2VAT we are aiming to have a fully automated expense analysis pipeline, and we have built and patented our technology to achieve this lofty goal. Still, every expense needs special care and has so many ways in which it can be handled. Some expenses cannot be claimed for VAT at all, depending on regulation in the country of origin, and they need to be classified as such: Unclaimable. This is often because of technical issues like a missing VAT breakdown, or missing key vendor information like VAT number. Other expenses may have all this crucial VAT information, but the paid VAT monies are simply unclaimable in the country in question.
In a way, this can be thought of as “personalized medicine for expense handling”. Each receipt or invoice will only respond to treatment that is crafted to its features, and we cannot apply the same techniques blindly for all of them if we wish to be successful. It starts with diagnosis and continues with prognosis. At first, we apply diagnostic tools to see what the expense is like: country of issuance, currency, expense type (accommodation, travel, etc.), and others. This initial information is then run through a web of rules that imitate the regulation in all the countries and jurisdictions that allow for VAT reclamations. If the expense is deemed reclaimable, we continue the analysis process with advanced document processing to extract the exact VAT reclaim information.
Personalized care for each expense is important, and is the basis of our automatic system at Way2VAT. Using this technique, we can bring “throwaway expenses” to a minimum of less than 5%, which translates to more reclaimed value for our clients. Marrying batch automatic processing with individual processing has created a complex system that also needs constant maintenance. But only powerful technology can solve a hard problem such as worldwide VAT reclaim.