We like to think that we’re doing a pretty good job at being a paperless office. We only print when we absolutely have to, all client files are saved electronically and any paper documents we receive, are scanned to pdf and then recycled. This system works well but the problem is, we started it many years after our business began. In the early years, we did print everything and all client files were kept in hard copy format. Therefore, as paperless as we are now, we still have cupboards full of client data from prior years. Recently, we decided that it was time to get rid of the clutter!
The ATO ruling on record-keeping is that in general, you must keep all documents relating to your taxable income for 5 to 7 years (depending on the document type) from the date of tax form lodgement (all types). For us as a BAS Agent agency, this means that we must keep each client’s financial year data for a minimum of 7 years. Multiply that by 40 clients and you’re talking about a lot of paper indeed! Aiming to be completely paperless in the near future, we looked at this situation and decided we should start disposing of the data ASAP.
We worked out that based on the 5 to 7-year rule and that it is 2016, we could dispose of anything leading up to June 30 2008. As we’ve been in business since 2003, that meant we had 5 years of data to ditch! Being sensitive client documents, we knew the data would have to be shredded to protect our clients’ privacy. We do have a small shredder in the office but based on the amount of waste to be removed, we knew our little shredder just wouldn’t be up for the job. It was time to pull out the big guns. We needed a shredding service!
What we really like as a home-based business is when services we use can come to us, so when started searching for shredding service, that aspect was on top of our shopping list. We looked at several services but found only one that comes to you – Shred Onsite.
What we really liked about Shred Onsite, is that they shred your documents before they leave your office so you have peace of mind that your data is truly gone, removing any possibility of potential identity theft. This is very important to us (and our clients) – you can never be too careful these days.
So we booked Shred Onsite to come to our office. We had a couple of weeks before they could come so that gave us plenty of time to sort through the many boxes and folders we’d been keeping for so long. Once we got started, it didn’t take that long. We bought some archive boxes to hold all of the loose paperwork and some larger boxes to house the many old folders. One of the great things about Shred Onsite is that they will shred entire folders, clips and staples so you don’t have to remove any of these things prior to shredding – such a fantastic time-saver. We ended up collecting so much stuff, we had to house it all in a separate room. Thankfully, this was only temporary!
Finally, the day arrived for our appointment with Shred Onsite. They turned up on time (important) and insisted that we do nothing but watch! They came to the door with large bins on wheels and proceeded to fill them. Then, with us watching on, they took the bins to their shredder-on-wheels and pulverised every last document, folder and box. The payment was via mobile EFTPOS. The job was over and done within less than 15 minutes. It was quick, easy and clean – just the way we like it. We can highly recommend Shred Onsite!
So now that we are several boxes and many folders lighter (such a great feeling), we reckon we’ll keep on using Shred Onsite until we’ve freed ourselves (and our cupboards) of all paper. We’ve booked them to come again in 12 months when we’ll repeat the entire process. Given the 5 to 7 year ruling, I reckon we’ll be using them for quite a few years to come! Our quest to become 100% paperless is well underway and being able to shred documents on mass is certainly a welcome part of that quest.