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The NeatDesk Can Save Your Life...From Paper

Transform all your dead tree scraps into digital files without black magic.

Paper can be great. There’s toilet paper, rolling papers, paper airplanes. But it can also kill you. Well, not really, but we’ve watched enough Hoarders to know it’s better to be organized than surrounded by stacks of receipts, documents, dead cats, expenses, invoices, business cards, letters and other pulpy flatsheets cluttering up your life. Then we tried out The NeatDesk and everything changed. Except the dead cats. They ain’t going nowhere!

What Is It?
A scanner that turns almost any piece of paper you can conceive of into a digital file. Have you ever looked at a stack of papers and thought: I wish I could do a CTRL+F and find exactly what I’m looking for without having to read all that crap? You haven’t? Really? Well, we do. So cool people like us would scan the stack and then find it immediately while you’re wasting time reading through it all. Ha! Dumb readers.

Easy Set Up
All you have to do is install the Neat software, plug it into your PC (there’s a separate NeatDesk for Macs) and start scanning. It’s like an old school printer that sits up vertically allowing you to put multiple paper items in it at once. Then it scans and, via wizardry we suppose, makes the document virtual. But don’t worry, your original hard copies aren’t affected. This isn’t Mission: Impossible. Nothing is destory. Though that would be cool. (Note To NeatDesk: Please allow the next version to include a self-destruct option.)

It Did Our Taxes
Normally around tax time we pull out a box full of receipts, add it all up by hand (okay, smartass, we use a calculator too) and sheepishly give it to the accountant hoping for a refund. This year we scanned everything--bills, expenses, receipts, credit card and bank statements, other stuff we can’t remember. After each item scanned it would grab info off each document--dates, company names, cost--and allow us to sort them into various tax categories.

One especially helpful feature is under the “Actions Menu” called “Split.” When you scan a credit card or bank statement it’s split into up to 10 different receipts. From there we used the “Report Creator Wizard,” which organized our expenses by their tax category and gave it to the accountant. He thanked us. He’s so gracious. (You can also print out a .pdf of the results, which is still paper but at least it’s a few pages as opposed to a few hundred.)

Plus, the digital receipts are accepted by the IRS, so if there’s an audit everything you reported is right there for them to pick through. Please, IRS, don’t audit us. We promise to not make fun of you anymore. In fact, IRS, you’re looking good. Have you been working out?

It Did Taxes For A Small Business
To put it to the test we found someone with a small retail business and let them have a go with The NeatDesk. They scanned all their invoices, expenses, cost of goods, and whatever the hell else they needed to report. They were also able to import and export data from other programs, including Quickbooks, TurboTax and Outlook, so it was all in one place and ready for tax prep time.

Other Cool Stuff
We dumped a huge stack of business cards through it and then imported it into our contacts. Now we have 100s of contacts in one place that we never plan on contacting.

Women or guys who like to cook can scan those recipes ripped out of magazines and organize them for easy reference. If any women are reading this please e-mail us some broasted hamsteak. Thanks in advance!

You can export all this info into so many different formats. You have the option to Export to Image, to PDF, CSV, Excel, QuickBooks, Quicken, TurboTax or to a Neat File.

Besides scanning the info, you can also import from a PDF, Image, vCard, Neat File or Quicken Accounts.

Any Problems?
Time to nitpick. Thin little receipts tend to get jammed. (We’re looking at you taxis and gas receipts.) Faint images don’t always read correctly, so every receipt should be checked ‘cause you’ll have to input those by hand.

Sometimes you’ll have no idea where the data on the screen was pulled the from; if that happens you’ll have to match the date and amount to each receipt. The upside: It did seem like the more items we scanned the more the software learned what to pull. Or maybe it didn’t and we were just hallucinating.

If you’re not sure what tax category to choose, leave that for your tax preparer or accountant. Even though we don’t like reading instructions, we found their help section amazing, with an entire chapter devoted to tax categories. It gave “Quick Tip” examples of what expenses could be deducted for each tax category name, as well as an online link to the irs.gov pdf file that you could read for more detailed info.

It’s $350...
Seems pricey, right? For an average person who doesn’t care about keeping financial stuff organized it is. But small business owners, paper hoarders, people who can’t afford an assistant, it’s worth the cost. Even if you’re completely paper-free, it’s a simple way to keep everything in one spot to avoid tax time panic. Just make sure to back everything up before you have a bonfire to send all that paper to hell where it belongs.