Storing paper documents can take up a lot of space, and floods or fires can easily destroy these physical records. As a small business owner, you need to keep a range of records, and in particular, you must keep records related to income taxes for at least six years. To save space and potentially boost organization, store your documents electronically.
Canada Revenue Agency Expectations
The Canada Revenue Agency requires all documents that are created electronically to be kept electronically. To explain, imagine you send a client an online invoice, he pays it online and your software generates a receipt electronically. In this transaction, all of the records were created electronically, so they must be stored electronically.
On the other hand, if you have records originally on paper, the CRA allows you to convert those records to electronic files, but you must meet the CRA’s imaging procedures and the latest standards set by the Canadian General Standards Board. The CRA accepts the most popular forms of electronic documents, including PDF, DOC, DOCX and multiple others; many of the standards simply deal with the clarity of the documents.
Depending on the amount of paper documents you anticipate scanning, you may want to invest in a scanner. If you have a small, home-based office, you may be fine with an all-in-one printer that handles printing and scanning. If you want to save space, some dedicated scanners are significantly smaller than all in ones; on the other hand, if you have large volumes of documents to scan, look for a machine that can scan a stack of papers automatically.
Organizing Electronic Records
Once you convert your records to an electronic format, find a way to organize them. If you only have a few documents, you can easily scan them and organize the files in folders. For example, you could have a folder for all business expenses from a certain year, a folder related to GST information and so on.
Apps and program can help you organize your documents. For example, LedgerDocs allows you to scan, email, upload or take photos of documents. The app makes it easy to search for records once you have saved them and, facilitates collaboration by letting you send records to anyone else in the office and attach notes to records. Sharing paper documents can be time-consuming, as it cannot be done remotely, and notes attached with paperclips may be lost.
Submitting Electronic Records
If the CRA needs more information on your tax return, you can submit the records electronically using My Account, My Business Account or Represent a Client. Just hit Submit Documents, and follow the prompts. If you are audited, most audits are performed on site at your place of business, and you can show or print electronic documents as requested.