It's nearly April 15, the deadline for millions of Americans who need to file an annual income tax report to the Internal Revenue Service. And for millions of filers, that means going through a shoebox full of sales receipts for potential tax deductions -- say, the cost of that new PC purchased used for the home business.
But if you'd rather not wade through a sea of sales slips, a Philadelphia company is suggesting a simple solution: Don't drown. Go digital.
NeatReceipts offers a package that combines a small portable computer scanner along with some sophisticated software.
"It scans and reads your receipts and helps you organize your information," said Rafi Spero, chief operating officer of NeatReceipts. "It helps you convert the shoeboxes filled with receipts into a digital empire that helps you manage your life."
The scanner is similar to other portable scanners used by mobile professionals to convert printed documents into digital text or images that can be used and manipulated by a computer. Similarly, NetReceipts' scanner can accept any size paper receipt up to 8.5 by 11 inches.
"All you got to do is get [the receipt] into the mouth of the scanner, hit 'scan' and it automatically readjusts and auto-sizes and auto-crops the document for you," said Spero.
Once the receipt is captured as a digital image onto the computer, the software can convert it into information that can be put into a handy personal database.
"If you scan a Staples receipt, it will recognize 'Staples' as [an office supplies] vendor and then will give it the appropriate expense category -- let's say 'retail,'" said Spero.
NeatReceipts users can even instruct the software to mark such digital receipts as taxable or nontaxable and share that information with other programs -- personal finance programs such as the popular Quicken software from Intuit.
Spero said the ease in organizing digital receipts could help minimize the hassle in preparing next year's tax return. But NeatReceipts could also help road warriors stay on top of their expenses while traveling on business.
"The software runs off of your computer, so if you have a laptop, you can take that with you," he said. "And the scanner is powered by your computer."
The $250 NeatReceipts kit is available only for Windows PCs that have a USB port.
-- Larry Jacobs, ABC News