Tax time is upon us, but the good news is that the annual IRS paper chase doesn’t have to consume mountains of paperwork. Of course, you need to keep track of the year’s receipts, but most everything else is available online. Bank statements, mutual fund statements as well as W-2 forms and other IRS forms should be just a click away. So even your accountant may agree that there’s no need to contribute to deforestation, when preparing your taxes.
Instead of copying that lunker tax return and all its attached paperwork, consider joining the growing numbers of U.S. taxpayers who are e-filing. The IRS reported this month that the number of people e-filing returns without the assistance of an accountant increased more than 10 percent in 2007. The IRS also reassures the public on its website that it is safe to file online: “Filing your return electronically is faster, safer and more accurate than mailing your tax return because it is transmitted over telephone lines directly to an IRS computer.”
Tax professionals also are contributing to the e-filed returns trend. According to the IRS, nearly 72 percent of all e-filed returns were filed by tax professionals. The percentage of returns filed by tax professionals grew 8.3 percent between 2006 and 2007.
To get up to speed on e-filing, see the IRS website.
One Texas accountant, CPA Michael Kidd of Duncanville, says that more small firms are reducing paper copies by using document management software with which companies scan the supporting documents into the computer and file them electronically along with a copy of the return instead of keeping a paper file. “Even a technology dinosaur like me will consider going to that the next time I upgrade my computer,” he says.
This year, before you hit “print,” think about saving trees. They improve air quality by absorbing carbon caused by pollution and cool and regulate the earth’s climate. Yet now when we need them most, trees are being cut down at increasingly high rates.
“It’s wrong to tear down trees for papers you will never use or see again,” said John G. Ams, executive vice president of the National Society of Accountants. He also cited efficiency and security as other reasons that more folks were e-filing their income tax forms this year.