From 2013 back when bills were not sent via e-mail.
So one of the first useful tips I wrote about was To Scan All Your Bills. If you do, you didn’t necessarily need to keep paper copies of them.
I still to do this. I do keep paper copies as well, for these type of bills:
- Tuition receipts for University and my son’s schooling
- Utilities bills, as I do claim part of those as business expenses
I no longer only save these images on my computer at home (which is being backed up). There are now many different services that offer free off-site backup of files such as:
- Google drive, which comes with your Gmail account
- Dropbox which is an app that runs on many devices
- Outlook has file space for you
- iCloud from Apple
- Even Ubuntu One offers some free disk space
I am leery to use “the cloud” for this kind of storage. You need to encrypt them if you use these services. You never know who the heck might look at your files from elsewhere. Also be aware that clouds are not in Canada, so they have different “seizure” rules.
The interesting part about the scanning of my bills was that I did exactly that when I was asked for receipts from the CRA, and I sent them scans of the documents in question, and they seemed happy enough with that. My guess is if it was an actual audit, they would want to see the originals, but for a “request for receipts” the government seems happy enough with a scanned image now as well.
Unfortunately you need to keep your paper records for a while before you can safely dispose of them (i.e. shred and/or burn), but maybe we are finally getting away from paper copies of things?
It seems to me that scanned copies are all you need now – here’s a document from CRA outlining their policies:
I don’t keep paper copies of anything anymore – once it’s scanned I shred the paper document (other than certain things like birth certificates of course).
OK this is a good thing to know.
I was there when the Canadian Military decided to computerize all paperwork related to aircraft maintenance. So, snags would be written up on a computer, and techs would “electronically sign” that the job repairing the aircraft was done by typing in their name and a code. Then “they” found out that an electronic signature was not legal, and all that stuff had to be printed and signed. So much for the paperless society we expected. We use MORE paper now than back when we decided to go paperless!
So much for our paperless society!
Yes the judicial system needs to catch up a little on this stuff. The CRA seems OK with it, although I suspect they would want “originals” at an audit too.
The real advantage of using some of those cloud sites is they will OCR your scans so the text is searchable.
I’ve also noticed the Home Depot in my area will email receipts from the cash register, so for big purchases, like appliances and renovations, this is very convenient.
Very good point, I don’t usually like giving out my e-mail address, but if you are going to mail me my receipt, then I am OK giving it to you (OK I give them an e-mail address I don’t regularly use).
Scanning them is a good idea though my only scanner is actually my iPhone :). I’ve taken to getting most of my bills electronically – I’m sure that the Gov’t will accept those especially since many of those come through Canada Posts ePost service.
Slowly we’re starting to see more things go paperless.
Pretty soon we won’t be able to get any paper bills so it will become moot. Is a paper printout of an e-bill any more ‘real’ than the e-bill?
About the only auditable paper we end up keeping is charitable receipts. But even those are switching to e-receipts for many of the bigger names.
Good point, we shall see is all I can suppose.