We've worked with many of our clients to go paperless - law firms, accounting firms, medical offices... and now its our turn. In a classic example of "the cobbler's family has no shoes", we're the last to update.
The first thing we double checked is the IRS requirements for record keeping. The IRS has actually been accepting electronic records as far back as 1997 as referenced in Rev. Proc. 97-22. The electronic storage system must "ensure an accurate and complete transfer of the hard copy or computerized books and records to an electronic storage media". The electronic storage system must also "index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce the electronically stored books and records". The full document is 36 pages, but the relevant parts for electronic records is covered in pages 9-11 so its not too much to read.
Like many small businesses, we were faced with either adding a new filing cabinet, getting a crow-bar to squeeze in some more paper records, or finally taking the plunge to go paperless. We set up a Xerox scanner with a good feeder and a combined flat-bed scan capability, and also ran some tests on our backup to double check that our scanned documents were safe. Without the safety net of paper records, the integrity of our data backup is more important than ever.
We found a local mobile shredding service that will help us clean out the old records after scanning and with a deadline of two weeks, we'll be motivated to work fast! We're looking forward to starting 2011 more organized than ever!