Do you need to keep paper copies of your expenses receipts?

Do you need to keep paper copies of your expenses receipts? | Easy As VAT | tax, accountancy & bookkeeping advice and services for small businesses, freelancers & bloggers

If you're anything like me, you know that you need to keep hold of and log your receipts for your business bookkeeping but you hate hoarding crumpled pieces of paper. But do you really need to keep them at all?

Well...no!

You don't.

In most cases, HMRC will accept scanned copies of receipts.

In fact, in my experience, if they do ask to see your records, they will ask you to email them to them rather than paying you a visit (more convenient all round, really).

Scanning your receipts

So, to avoid having a handbag full of scrunched up receipts (we all do it!) or forgetting about them altogether, my best tip is to get your receipts on to your phone or computer as soon as possible.

How can you do this when you're out and about? There are lots of apps you can use to scan them straight on to your phone, wherever you are, including CamScanner and 1tap Receipts, both of which allow you to take photos of your receipts and export them to PDF documents for your bookkeeping records.

If you use accounting software such as QuickBooks or FreeAgent which have a mobile app, you can scan and upload your receipts to there.

Tips

  • If your receipt is double-sided, make sure you scan both sides.

  • You don't necessarily have to scan your receipts, photographs of the receipts are also acceptable evidence of your expenses.

  • Some documents, such as those showing tax (other than VAT) need to be kept in their original form - so if you have paper copies of these, scans will not be accepted.

  • Backup your records in another location, such as a hard drive or cloud storage system like Dropbox, in case something happens to them.

  • Make sure you scan your receipts as soon as possible to avoid a backlog and stay organised - here are my tips to keep your bookkeeping records organised.

    Remember, you need to keep your records for at least five years after the 31 January tax return deadline date of the relevant tax year - so you need to keep your 2017-18 records until at least 31 January 2024.


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