Digitize Your Old Tax Returns for Safekeeping in 6 Easy Steps!
Did you know: the IRS recommends storing old tax returns for a minimum of 3 years?
Soda PDF actually makes it super easy and secure. Just snap a few photos, merge everything into one document, set a password, and you’re all done. Everything will be in one place, and can’t be altered (except by you), lost, or stolen.
Plus you won’t have to deal with any ugly filing cabinets, because Soda PDF is offering free access to its Premium software along with E-Sign until April 30th.
Why You Should Keep Your Old Tax Returns
The IRS recommends you keep your tax returns for a minimum of 3 years.
That includes things like:
- Mileage logs
- 1098 forms (If you deducted mortgage interest)
- Charitable donations
- Records showing your contributions to deductible retirement savings like an IRA
Basically, anything that supports a claim made on your taxes should be stored for a minimum of 3 years in a manner that makes them easy to access.
What if Uncle Sam decides he wants a little more information from you?
You need to be able to produce it. FAST.
Nobody ever gets audited…until it happens to you. When it does, you better hope you can support your claims.
Also, having access to previous records makes filing future tax returns a lot easier. So it’s a win-win for everyone.
How to Organize Your Tax Records: Old School vs New School
There’s no rule on how to store your tax records. Most people just leave their coffee-stained 1040s buried under a stack of papers in their office. Some have them neatly filed away.
You have two choices. You can either:
- Buy a cabinet and a bunch of folders, label each drawer by year, and label each folder according to what’s inside (W2s, receipts, etc.).
- Take pictures of everything, upload them, and keep them in one shareable document. That way, they are instantly accessible, can never be lost, and can never be altered or stolen. Plus you don’t have to have an ugly filing cabinet in your home office.
Which sounds better? Of course, digitizing those papers is best, since now you’ll be able to free up all that space in your cabinet!
The old school way is fine, but what happens if your home is ever flooded? What if you just misplace something after burning the midnight oil?
It all comes down to convenience. Scanning your tax records not only keeps them safe from harm, but it also saves you tons of time, space, and money. It also helps the environment!
And we just so happen to know a really simple, powerful PDF editor that makes storing your tax records easy: Soda PDF!
How to Digitize Your Taxes in 6 Easy Steps
Digitizing files is insanely easy.
All you need is your phone’s camera, Soda PDF, and a bit of ingenuity.
Step 1: Gather Everything
Get your 1040s, W2s, receipts, bank statements…whatever you need for your tax records.
Make a checklist to make sure you’ve got it all.
Once you do, it’s time to start scanning.
Step 2: Take a Picture of Everything
Make a photo record of each document, receipt, statement, etc.
Go one by one, and be sure to take a clear image with all the information clearly visible.
If you have a scanner, that’s great. But you only need the phone on your camera, assuming it’s good enough quality.
Step 3: Put Everything Into a Folder and Merge
Take all of those images and put them in a single folder.
The easiest way to do that is to use Google Drive. Upload the photos from your phone to Google Drive, then you’ll have instant access to them on your laptop/desktop.
Once they are all in a single folder, it’s time to MERGE!
Here’s how to merge documents with Soda PDF:
Select CREATE and then Combine Files.
Now you can directly add the files from Google Drive.
From here, just adjust the order using the up and down arrows, and MERGE!
Step 4: Adjust Images (If Needed)
Now, you’ll want to make the images look as neat and tidy as possible. Adjust image size or direction so that it flows like a standard document. For example, you might need to rotate images so they’re easily visible.
You’re almost done!
Step 5: Compress
Chances are your new PDF will be WAY TOO BIG to email.
You’ll need to compress it all down so it’s nice and small.
Here’s what to do:
Then choose “Email quality”, so it’s small enough to email.
Step 6: Set a Password
You want to make sure nobody can make edits without your consent, right?
It’s time to set a password.
Click Secure and sign in the top right:
Then choose Password Security.
Next, choose your password and click Apply
Note that Soda PDF DOES NOT have any password requirements. It’s up to you to choose something strong enough to protect your records!
TIP: We highly recommend testing your password. Try to open your PDF and make sure you’re prompted to enter your password. Just to be sure you did it right!
Your tax records are all digital now, and you have a 100% safe, indestructible record that you can access instantly. Plus you didn’t have to buy a filing cabinet or kill any trees. Feel good?
Ready to save time, money, space, and trees? Download SodaPDF and start digitizing your taxes today! You can try it 100% FREE. What have you got to lose?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does the IRS Accept Digital Tax Records?
A: Yes, the IRS 100% accepts digital records. Here is an FAQ on IRS.gov that spells it out.
Q: How Long do I Have to Keep Old Tax Records?
A: The IRS recommends keeping old tax records for a minimum of 3 years. However, some records should be kept for up to 7 years. Consult the IRS’s website or speak to a tax professional to know exactly how long you should keep your documents.
Q: Why Should I Go Digital?
A: Digital tax records are far more efficient and cost effective, plus they’re environmentally friendly and save space. They can’t be lost or stolen, they take up no space, they save you money because you don’t need to buy a cabinet, and they’re available instantly on your phone or computer. Why not?
Q: Do I Need a Scanner?
A: No, you do not need a scanner. You only need the camera on your phone. Snap a picture of your records, upload them to drive, and make them into a PDF.
Q: How Far Back Can the IRS Audit Me?
A: In general, the IRS audits up to the previous 3 years. However, we highly recommend speaking to a tax professional because there are many exceptions.
Q: What Triggers an Audit?
A: There sometimes is no rhyme or reason as far as triggering an audit. However, the IRS may become suspicious if you claim a lot of itemized deductions.