IRS says it’s OK to go paperless!

I just read a post in a blog that referenced this IRS publication. The IRS is recommending scanning your important documents and saving them to a CD or DVD, preferably in a safe location away from your own home or office. I have been scanning my papers for the last year or so. I did check with my tax preparer last year if this was OK and she said it is.

When I started doing this, I decided that it was safer than a stack of paper records which could be damaged by water, fire or just lost or misplaced. They can also be searched a little easier if you convert your PDF files to a searchable PDF with OCR (optical character recognition) software. There are many options for this also.

Recently I have been reading about storing or backing up your PC to a secure online website. This may be another option as long as they are very secure and safe, but I would still have my own DVD backups kept in a safe place.

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Paperless Office

I wrote in my blog a year ago about the scanner I bought and have slowly been going through my boxes and file drawers of stashed papers. Believe me, I HATE to do filing at home and I get really behind with it!

I just read a great blog article where he explains in detail how and why he uses scanning to digitize paper and get rid of the originals. Here’s a link to the article.

Paperless Office suggestions

In my quest to organize my house, I wanted to get rid of excess paper. Many things we file away and rarely get into, but need to keep for a few years. I checked with my tax gal and she said that many documents (bank statements, medical receipts) can be saved as a PDF file instead of keeping the originals. (I recommend that each person check with their own tax advisor on what they need to keep.) There are some things I would always keep the original for also.

After a lot of research, I found an easy, small and fast scanner to use at home that was also quite inexpensive, compared to something this fast for an office or something. The Fujitsu ScanSnap is really neat!! First of all, it is very small and sits on your desk. When you want to use it, you open it and it is ready to scan in a few seconds. It scans both sides of the paper at once, in black and white or color (automatically)! It has a 50-page document feeder. The only thing you can’t do is scan different sizes of paper in the same scan batch, but you can scan as small as a business card, photographs all the way up to legal length paper.

You can only save the scan to either a jpg (picture) or pdf file, but this suits the purpose I bought it for. I have scanned in TONS of papers from my files, saved them on my PC and shredded or thrown away the papers! Now I keep a folder in my desk and put things in there that I want to scan and every week or two scan them in. I have gotten rid of stacks of old bank statements, bills, medical receipts and other documentation.

It comes with Adobe Standard, which is about a $70 program. With this program, after I scan the document, I can convert it to a “PDF image with text” file, which lets me SEARCH within that document for a particular word! The scan looks just like the original, but it makes another layer out of the document that recognizes he text! A normal PDF file can’t do this.

I was also able to scan a stack of photos and saved them into Picasa2! They look very similar to the original and it was much faster than laying each picture on a glass scanner and doing them one at a time! I have lots of old photos that were taken before my digital camera that I will be able to convert to a digital picture.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap scans 15-30 pages per minute, both sides at once, automatically in color and black & white (mixed), and if the back side of a page is blank, it will skip it! It is amazing!! Here is a video of how it works! This link is an example and they have many models. I was able to get a brand new one on ebay for less than original price and if you check the Fujitsu website, you will know what models are discontinued (but work the same) and can get those a bit cheaper, too. Just watch that you get either a PC or Mac version if you order online, because not all the ebay listers KNOW for sure the difference.

Another tip is that once in a while there will be a paper jam. As long as the papers are straight (not bend on the ends), you can fan the pages a little bit and that will often work. Another thing I have found is that the first few things I scan sometimes pull more than one page in, but after it has warmed up a bit, it doesn’t do this as much. If it does jam, though, it is VERY easy to remove the jam because it is a straight path, you just open the little door and take out the paper, it isn’t bent or anything from the rollers.

Here is a review on it. I did a google search and read as much information about it before I decided to buy it, but it is really a great scanner!