Year End Tax Updates - plan ahead!

In lieu of a #TipTuesday post, today’s post is a heads up for planning for this year end’s tax updates. With the changes to the product names earlier this year - i.e. dropping the “year” number from the name - there are some ripple effects that some customers are only starting to realize will happen this year end. Ideally your VAR/partner has been already communicating some of this to you but if not, this may help you.

What versions are supported?

This is not new…

There will be tax updates for GP 2015, GP 2016, GP 2018 code bases. I use “code bases” specifically here. See the GP 2018 section for more details if you are currently on that version.

Clients running Dynamics GP 2013 or older are already a year removed from mainstream support and tax updates.

GP 2015 and GP 2016 clients

This also is not new.

If you are running GP 2015 or GP 2016, you are eligible for a tax update this year, just like you were last year end. None of the “no number” name changes affect you in any way.

This post from Terry Heley has information on what changes are already released for the US Year End Update. There are a couple of UPR table changes plus some other items noted for GP 2015 that also apply to GP 2016.

GP 2018 clients

This sounds new, but isn’t actually new. The short version is this:

If you are running GP 2018, the tax update is cumulative and will include the Dynamics GP October 2019 release.

The Dynamics GP 2018 code base is the same code base that the “no number” Dynamics GP October 2019 release is based on. There is only one tax update for the GP 2018 code base.

What does that mean?

You’re going to be moving from what was referred to as GP 2018 to what is referred to a just “Dynamics GP”, after the year end tax update. You will also officially be moving to the Modern Lifecycle. If you’re reading this and affected by the tax updates each year, there is nothing scary about the Modern Lifecycle. You’re already updating your system every year (or more) and thus you are pretty much always “current” already.

The update will include all GP 2018 code base changes since the last update you installed, presumably last year-end (for most clients). If you made no changes throughout the year, that means you will be getting the new functionality announced in October, in the Dynamics GP October 2019 release.

OMG I have to upgrade before year end?

I am seeing too many posts of people that seem to be “fear mongering” about this, claiming that clients have to “upgrade” before year end. No, you don’t. The term “upgrade” is pretty specific: it means a major version change, which this isn’t. The term “update” or “service pack” or “tax update” is more apt for what this is.

As I mention above, Dynamics GP is based on the GP 2018 code base. The update this year should be no different than any other previous year’s GP 2018 updates.

Last year there was an October release for GP 2018 R2. At year end, if you were running GP 2018, you got R2 whether you wanted it or not. Think of it like that. You “got” R2 functionality and the tax update. This year you’ll “get” the October 2019 release functionality and the tax update.

So it’s nothing to worry about?

I wouldn’t say this is completely worry free as every update requires thought and planning. This year’s update for GP 2018 clients may require a little more than most and that is due to the removal of the version number. That change meant many ISVs had to make some changes to their own code to accommodate the new Dynamics GP naming conventions. What you may find is you have more ISV updates this year than in year’s past. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that many will be minor updates and while there may be a few more things to install, it is nowhere near the level of effort as a full major upgrade would be.

My recommendation

First, if you’re usually installing your own update, take an inventory of all of your ISV products. Check their websites for compatibility with the “Dynamics GP” October 2019 release (at a minimum). They either have no changes to make or will have new code to install.

Second, review your customizations for what might be affected by this. My guess is if you are a payroll client with customizations, you already have a plan for how to deal with your annual updates and thus you are no more concerned this year than any other year. You would have already dealt with this every other year and this year is no different.

Third, if you’re worried, install the update early if you can. If you are a Canadian Payroll customer, and you have a separate test environment, download the recent US payroll tax updates and install it (with whatever ISVs need to be installed). It happens to be called the US payroll year end tax updates but just like the Canadian Payroll year end tax updates, the service pack includes more than just UPR or CPY changes. If that update goes smoothly, you can be fairly confident that there will be no big issue at year end, if you follow the same process again. The changes from this to the CPY year end tax update will be mostly CPY specific at that point.

If you use a partner or consultant to install the updates, ask them about it. If you have a lot of ISV products and are concerned about things, consider investing in some extra time now for a test environment and test update. The cost may be well worth the reduction of stress knowing what year end may look like. Most partners won’t have time to do this much at year end as timelines are often tight so don’t wait ‘til year end to request this!

Is history a good predictor for the future?

The GP upgrade processes have been pretty smooth the last few versions, and that’s the major version “upgrade” type of changes. The tax updates have been pretty painless in the recent past as well. Every year the processes are smoother.

I suspect that many clients (the GP 2018 ones specifically) will find this stressful. I would argue it’s no more stressful than any other year. This is the new normal. Each year around October there will be new functionality announced in a feature release and that will also be part of the year end tax updates that year, for the GP 2018 code base.

If you want to be better prepared for this in the future, make sure you have a standalone test environment and install the October releases as soon as you are able (depending on your ISVs), to ensure you have the most lead time to deal with unexpected issues before year end. Some larger ISVs, like Key2Act, only recently announced their changes for compatibility with the October 2019 release. Smaller ISVs may have less to test/change each year which means earlier compatibility releases. Testing early means more time to plan for the unexpected should something not go smoothly!

I hope this helps allay some fears. Happy “updating”!

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