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Pushing the Envelope: What You Need to Know to Go Paperless This Year

January 12, 2015

As the world becomes more digital, reducing the dependence on paper documents is becoming a priority for many people. And because digital technology has come such a long way, going paperless is easier than you might think. To help you get started on your paperless journey, check out the following tips.


Identify the main tools you need to begin. Obviously, your computer is where your path to a paperless existence begins. It serves as a central hub to which you transfer data and a repository where you will organize it. To back up your data, you will want to have an external hard drive. Although there are online storage options available, it is important that you back up information on an external hard disk as well. A scanner will help you quickly transfer data from paper to your computer, especially if you’ve accumulated volumes of files and documents over the years. You can also use your mobile phone to store important notes, contacts, and other small bits of information, items that you might normally record in a notebook or on sticky notes.


Commit the time needed to complete your paperless process properly. At first, going paperless may seem easier said than done. You should set aside time. In fact, a full day may be required to get the first round of work done. You will need to choose what information you want to electronically file and organize it.


Carefully divide the documents you have into those that are useful and those that are not necessary. You maybe surprised to find how much unneeded paper you have once you start organizing. Create different folders on your computer and other devices, so that the clutter isn’t transferred from your desk to your hard drive as you start scanning documents. Be sure you take the time to back up any documents you upload as well.


Do a final check before you shred or toss your paper documents. It’s important that you go through paper files and data on your computer, cellphone, or tablet thoroughly to make sure they match and you haven’t missed anything. Also, double check your list of non-essential items to confirm that they in fact are not needed. 



Tax Preparation is the Perfect Paperless Project


If you have considered going paperless in the past, getting ready to file your taxes may be the impetus you need to take the plunge—especially when you consider all of the paper and manual tasks involved in the process.


The easiest way to alleviate the stress of organizing, securing, and delivering your tax documentation is to use an online client portal, which is essentially a two-way digital filing system residing on your accountant’s website. A client portal places documents at the fingertips of your trusted accounting team and creates a place where files, such as completed returns, can be placed by the preparer for you to access immediately.


Working with electronic files rather than paper or even those sent via unprotected email, is far more efficient and secure—not to mention environmentally friendly. So this year, why not try uploading your tax source documents to a client portal?


Portals offer a private and highly secure space on the web to exchange and deliver your tax and accounting documents, which eliminates the need to attach files within an email. Portals also offer advanced, built-in security features, such as a required login using a unique user ID and password. All around, portals offer the safest way to access your sensitive financial documents.


Another benefit of using online portal technology is that your tax return will be there for you to review and retrieve when it’s convenient for you, 24/7. By following a paperless process, you can quickly eliminate manually printing, collecting, and delivering your tax source documents. 


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