As the deadline for filing 2018 income tax returns approaches, millions of Americans are gathering paper documents, such as receipts, bank statements and proof of income and expenses. They’re also crossing their fingers for a better financial outcome. After all, this is the first year tax preparers and filers will see the full effects of the new tax law passed in 2017.
We can’t change the rates and deductions or whether you get a refund. But we can say with confidence that paper documents will make the tax-prep process easier for everyone.
All taxpayers, even those who file electronically, will find it advantageous to have paper copies of financial statements, receipts and invoices. Here are three reasons paper documents are better than digital copies of the same records:
1. Paper is always accessible.
In an ever-advancing environment, files stored electronically could be less accessible as technology changes. (Do you have old documents on a CD-ROM but a computer with no disk drive?) Digital files can also become corrupted, and hard drives can fail. Paper documents, on the other hand, are always accessible.
2. Paper is hard to hack.
Identity theft hit an all-time high in 2017, due in part to our increasing reliance on digital transactions and communications. Even if your computer is secure, your employment or investment records may be at risk on someone else’s server or network.
3. Paper is proof.
Important legal documents stand up in court because they’re usually signed in front of witnesses, and they often include seals, security features, notary stamps and other proofs of authenticity. Digital documents lack these security details and can be more difficult to use for legal purposes.
Paper Documents Make More Sense
As electronic communication becomes more common, more companies are forcing consumers to go paperless or charging inflated fees for access to paper copies of critical personal and financial communications.
At Domtar, we think people should be able to choose to receive important communications in print. “We believe a citizen’s right to choose to receive essential information on paper should be protected, and we believe in protecting the interests of our industry,” says Tom Howard, the company’s vice president for government relations.
To this end, Domtar has joined a challenge to Rule 30e-3, which was recently adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The rule allows certain investment companies to use electronic delivery as the default method for annual and semiannual reports.
If you prefer to receive paper documents — or you at least want to be able to choose between print and digital — you can support our efforts through the Keep Me Posted campaign, which asks companies to eliminate extra fees associated with paper communications.
Learn more about the advantages of paper documents by reading our article on why your estate plan needs paper.