How to Give Your Business and Tax Records a Spring Cleaning
Feb 22, 2016
By: Kelly Spors Tax season is upon us, and your office and file cabinets may feel downright cluttered with tax records and business receipts. Once you wrap up your taxes, think about how to get your business records tidied up for the months ahead.
Here are three spring cleaning tips:
1. Know what (and when) to purge
A big source of clutter may be your reluctance to toss out old documents, whether they're bank and investment statements, invoices, contracts or receipts. You certainly don’t want to throw away something you may need in case of a tax audit or customer inquiry.
The IRS offers guidance on how long to keep various types of business tax-related records, and your tax advisor can also give their opinion. Beyond tax records, though, you’ll want to keep key documents — such as current business contracts and property purchase records — indefinitely, or until those items are no longer relevant.
You can often discard receipts for items that you’re not expensing on your taxes once the warranty has expired and you’ve confirmed that you were billed correctly.
Consider that many financial institutions and credit card companies keep electronic records such as bank statements for you, so you could always retrieve them in the future.
2. Electronic backup
A scanner may be your best friend. Document management software and mobile apps can help you efficiently store electronic records.
Some subscription services give you the equipment that allow you to scan paper documents and turn them into digital, cloud-stored files — so you don’t have to keep them on your computer’s hard drive.
You can also set up such a system yourself by buying a scanner and storing your records on a free cloud service, such as Google Drive. Once you scan and save a document, you may be able to throw away the paper document. Several apps are also available that allow you to use your smartphone to snap a photo of receipts and organize them on the go, according to TechRepublic.
3. Create a document management system
Rather than having to revisit your clutter every year — or whenever the papers pile up on your desk — consider developing an organizational system. Perhaps once a week or on the last Friday of every month, take time to go through your recent documents and file or discard them accordingly.
Of course, organizing your office goes beyond just tax records and business receipts. You have emails, voicemails, social media accounts and your bookkeeping. Figuring out a system for keeping those organized, as well, will help you tackle clutter and run your business more efficiently.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. The information should not be relied upon as replacement for professional tax advice.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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