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Tax Returns: These Are the 5 Steps You Want to Achieve by January 2020

By Jelena Arkula

If you have filed the taxes and avoided filing the extension, Congratulations!

Taxes are done, and you might think it’s too early to talk about the Tax Year 2019.

The truth is, this IS a perfect time!

Imagine it’s January 2020, and you want to achieve these 5 steps by then:

  1. Your Financial Statements are done by January 15th, 2020
  2. The 1099 MISC hare done and issued by January 15th, 2020
  3. Your expenses are easily sorted and the receipts are digitally filed
  4. You can search your entire file cabinet with “CRTL+F”
  5. Your desk is paper free!

It’s not mission impossible and it is not a fairytale…

But how do we achieve these steps above? It’s simple. You only have to work backward!

We, at Books LA, are known to work backward, but in a good way. We imagine ourselves how it would feel without the current problem at hand, and, as we identify the advantages in the future without those problems and obstacles at hand; we build the bridge between here and there.

So, in that fashion, let’s start from the end:

Step 5: Your desk is paper free!

If you glance at your desk now, what will you see? Notes? Bills? Statements? Mail?

Now, imagine you are done for today and are walking into your home. Is there a pile of papers somewhere in your home that needs to be looked at, filed-away, and addressed?

So, now what?

ScanSnap to the rescue!

Help yourself, and grab a ScanSnap iX1500. That is Fujitsu’s own ScanSnap (workhorse) iX1500.

Plug it in, connect the USB to any PC or Mac, follow the simple instructions, and within 10 minutes or so, scan your first page (or receipt).

ScanSnap will use the AI and save the files (double scanned regardless of the name and sizes) and name the files by default, by reading the name of the document, date, amount…

All you have to do is to feed that workhorse and let it scan all.

Continue doing so, until every paper in sight is scanned*.

Step 4: You can search your entire file cabinet with “CRTL+F”

Sometime later you recall seeing a bill from Blue Shield or Blue Cross or Amex Blue… and want to take a look at it. All you need to do is open your ScanSnap Document Organizer, and in the search field you start typing “blue” and you watch as the documents are instantly filtered by “b”, then “bl”, then “blu” and “blue” and you pull that bill. Once you are done looking at it, you recall that you are mesmerized by instant search and you try to search for other bills too… Verizon, AT&T, ATT, DWP…

All your bills are searchable – ALL OF THEM!!!

Step 3: Your expenses are easily sorted and the receipts are digitally filed

Even though the bills are searchable, now we take it a step further and connect ScanSnap with Hubdoc, Dropbox, Google Drive…

By doing so, AI will help us determine the type of expenses.

Take it a step further and train your ScanSnap iX1500 and software of your choice to always recognize and sort the expenses and bills. That way, you can easily ‘push’ the receipts as a match to existing transactions and attach them into the accounting software of your choice, or add them bills to pay them via Bill.com.

So, any receipts that you might have from more than 6 months ago, that were printed on a thermal printer are now starting to fade. But yours won’t fade! Yours are now digital and readable! Those receipts are very much VISIBLE and USABLE inside ScanSnap and other software of your choice.

Step 1 and 2: Your Financial Statements are done by January 15th, 2020 and The 1099 MISC hare done and issued by January 15th, 2020

Yes, we saved that much time and were able to speed up the process so we combined two tasks into one.

Like any good bookkeeper, we are not going to say that AI will do everything for you. We are still a bit far from that day, but that day is coming.

Until then – here is where we are:

  • Your paper receipts are a thing of the past. Any paper that you see should be scanned and OCR’d (searchable) by ScanSnap software
  • Let the data be extracted. There is absolutely no need for data entry. Let’s avoid the typos and allow the AI to fill and complete the data.
  • Pay close attention to data management. This is where the human is very much present and needed. This is where we, as bookkeepers, are needed and use our knowledge to the fullest. (i.e. loan payments splits, asset or expense qualifications, equity contribution vs income…. Just to name a few)
  • Review, review, review. Here at Books LA, we have a once-a-month meeting with our clients where we go over the current report and plan ahead. We also review quarterly and YTD reports as we go.

Therefore, once January arrives, all we have to do is do a final check. That’s why we CAN be done by January 15th.

After you have scanned all your receipts, you are most likely to come across quite a few cash receipts. If you are like 95% of us, those receipts are usually forgotten about and rarely counted for at the year end, right?

On average, there are about 4 cash receipts per month, ranging between $6-$12 each, and some are even over $20. If we tally the total spent, on average, is between $288 and $576.

Now, by using a Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX1500 to capture those receipts, your ScanSnap paid for itself within the first year or two.