Monday, April 25, 2011


Last Friday was Earth Day (how time flies – I remember painting a sign to hang in the back of my high school auditorium for the first Earth Day), and it got me thinking . . .

With the possible exception of the novel allegedly written by reality tv slut "Snookie", the biggest waste of paper, and killer of trees, I can think of is the 1099 instructions sent out each year with brokerage and mutual fund “Consolidated 1099 Statements”. I dare anyone to identify a single person, other than the proof-readers at the brokerage and mutual fund houses, who has actually read any of these multi-page, usually small-print instructions.

Clients will send me, often unopened, envelopes containing the Consolidated 1099 Statements (original and one or two subsequent corrected copies - each copy with the instructions included). I encourage them to send me the attachments that come with these statements, as there are actually some items of value – Average Cost Statement, list of the percentage of fund income from US Government Obligations, and allocation by state of the income from municipal bond funds. But I would expect that during the season I fill up at least a half dozen garbage bags (for recycling) with the instructions for the Form 1099.

My clients have obviously not read these instructions, and I certainly do not read them. Are they required by law? Or are they merely to cover the arses of the brokerage or mutual fund houses?

Imagine how many forests of trees could be spared if these statements were not printed.



Anonymous said...

Imagine how many trees could be saved if you prepared returns in electronic format.....I kid, I kid.

Robert D Flach said...


My problem is not with submitting returns electronically - but with the need to use flawed tax preparation software to do so.

I have found in reviewing copies of returns of returns prepared by tax software that at least twice as much paper is wasted in extraneous reports and blatherings than with copies of manually prepared returns.