Why Are We Still Using Paper?

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In a typical day I get about 250 emails, which are sorted between essential and non-essential messages. As a National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) member, I recently received eight emails from them trying to sell me everything from brochures to “Get This!” tax return folders. I actually laughed out loud at that little nugget.

It dawned on me that there must be people out there who still print their tax returns.

I was the youngest partner in a partnership for 18 years and it was I who forced the older partners to go paperless in 2005.

When I went out on my own in 2013, I was already a paperless wonder. So that’s why it kind of surprised me to learn that there must be people still out there schlepping it up on paper tax returns.

Another thing that is becoming a thing of the past is a traditional computer server, as we have converted pretty much work on every client to a cloud-based accounting platform. Gone are the days of Accountant’s Copies. Keeping up with technology and changes in software, I had used Lacerte since they bought out my last tax software about 20 years ago.

But this year, I switched to ProConnect Tax Online, which is entirely cloud based. During tax season, I can work on tax returns while my dog plays in the dog park. I embrace technology, and this business is changing so much. I want to change along with it and be on the cutting edge.

For example, I receive very few paper checks as payments nowadays are carried out by credit card. Even when I do get the occasional check, I simply take a picture of it and deposit it in my bank account. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I actually set foot in a bank.

Where I draw the line is my cell phone number. I have an app on my phone that changes my caller ID to my business number. But I don’t want clients having my cell phone because I know the texts will soon start flying. There are very few clients that have my cell.

To sum it up, we have to just stop using paper. It’s too expensive and time consuming to print client work.

I have three screens at the office. One screen for what I’m currently working on, one to look at the paperless documents and the other screen is for sports. If your clients are used to receiving things through the mail, you need to retrain them. Very few people, including me, ever open their mail.

Release yourself from the insanity and embrace the new frontier. It’s 2017!

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice for almost 23 years. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.

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Aug 23rd 2017 18:14

I think there is a little bit of a hesitancy from old guard CPAs to make the switch to cloud-based software because their clients are old guard and have unjustified concerns about security, etc. Much more likely to get stolen from your business than from a secure server.

Keeping my eye on a couple options before I make the switch. I'm interested in what companies support all the different types of 1099 forms.

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Aug 23rd 2017 22:07

If we could make taxes easier to find, fill, and file online, I think that would help us from using paper. As an independent contractor, I use paper because I don't know how to fill out the 1099 form online.

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Nov 2nd 2017 04:49

Can't type very fast on a touchpad like Essay helper. Drawing is awkward. Typing maths equations is hard. Alterations made on paper are visible. It's obvious who wrote it (it's really hard to forge handwriting). Paper can't run out of battery. It can't be accidentally deleted. It's cheap

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