Entrepreneurship & Small Business

How do you keep all the receipts?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 30th, 2017 12:29 pm
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[OP]
Member
Feb 23, 2015
290 posts
11 upvotes
Mississauga, ON

How do you keep all the receipts?

All those little bits of paper, from gas stations to hardware stores, they come in various dimensions.

How to solve the problem of the ink disappearing from some of them after a few years (we are supposed to keep them for 7 years right?)
19 replies
Member
Feb 15, 2010
421 posts
231 upvotes
Surrey
Get a scanner like a scansnap. Bit of an investment but a digital backup is great insurance.
Sr. Member
Feb 25, 2007
888 posts
350 upvotes
Ottawa
Snap a picture into evernote. Put date, vendor/provider, and amount into title. File them all into a "Receipts" workbook.
(Used to use an iphone scanning app - TurboScan - and email to my gmail account where a filter filed it away without be having to look at it. Could also just use smartphone camera app, but the main challenge is making the filing away sufficiently brainless that you don't fall behind).
[OP]
Member
Feb 23, 2015
290 posts
11 upvotes
Mississauga, ON
Physically storing them and making sure they are legible after years is the challenge. Digital copy part I have solved.

Other than storing them in ziploc bags, any other advice?
What to do to prevent ink from disappearing?
What to do if ink has disappeared and there is an audit? Will the digital back up be sufficient?
Sr. Member
Feb 25, 2007
888 posts
350 upvotes
Ottawa
BizDeveloper wrote:
Apr 3rd, 2017 9:29 pm
Physically storing them and making sure they are legible after years is the challenge. Digital copy part I have solved.
[...]
What to do if ink has disappeared and there is an audit? Will the digital back up be sufficient?
Do you need to store them at all? Once I have a digital copy, I shred them.
Most of my expenses are charged back to my customers. They only want a digital copy. My understanding, endorsed by my accountant (challenge me if you think we're wrong) is that the CRA might care only if they suspected some form of malfeasance. Most transactions these days leave at least a partial electronic footprint (e.g. credit card charge). But then again, it's easy for me to deprioritize this and take a (small) risk given that my pure-cash expenses are vanishingly small.
Deal Addict
Aug 18, 2004
1104 posts
55 upvotes
Toronto
SirLookout4Deals wrote:
Apr 1st, 2017 11:57 pm
Get a scanner like a scansnap. Bit of an investment but a digital backup is great insurance.
Can't beat these scanners... Not cheap, but they just work. Love mine for document scanning.

I use a Neat scanner for my receipts - it's got pretty good recognition to grab the vendor name (it isn't always perfect the first time but once you correct it, subsequent scans will get it right!), can sort it and categorize.. then export into excel. It also allows to export an entire folder (multiple receipts) into a single PDF document, for easy archiving. This way you don't have to worry about having their software installed in future years in case you need to dig up anything.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 19, 2004
7147 posts
910 upvotes
Cambridge, ON
BizDeveloper wrote:
Apr 3rd, 2017 9:29 pm
Physically storing them and making sure they are legible after years is the challenge. Digital copy part I have solved.

Other than storing them in ziploc bags, any other advice?
What to do to prevent ink from disappearing?
What to do if ink has disappeared and there is an audit? Will the digital back up be sufficient?
Digital copy is ideal. But do not throw out the original, even if it fades. The CRA still expects to see the original receipt along with a photocopy (or digital copy).
Sr. Member
Feb 25, 2007
888 posts
350 upvotes
Ottawa
don242 wrote:
Apr 4th, 2017 12:22 pm
The CRA still expects to see the original receipt along with a photocopy (or digital copy).
This is the elephant in the room. Guidance on this varies widely. My own accountant has said electronic-only, if done systematically and with no funny business, should be fine. Word-of-mouth from other entrepreneurs sometimes says "you have to keep the paper copies" or, a bit for vaguely, "it's better/safer if you keep paper copies". Prompted -- finally -- by this thread, I just did a google search and emerged none the wiser. The best authoritative guidance from the CRA that I've found seems to be http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/records/, http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/ ... t-eng.html, and http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tp/ic78- ... r5-10e.pdf

It does seem that electronic only *should* be fine, but there are specific requirements in the pdf which I had never heard of, and was certainly not adhering to the letter of (written procedures, logbook, etc.)
I have been adhering to the spirit, in particular having a standardized procedure/workflow (for me, photoscanning directly into Evernote, not editing the image but adding text explanation to the note if needed, assigning a unique ID...) and benefiting from the note history feature of Evernote Premium to maintain an audit trail when/how/by whom (i.e. me) the records were (n)ever touched.

Has anyone sought or received authoritative guidance on this? I work as an independent consultant; these days originally-paper expense receipts are becoming fewer and fewer (just checked - seem to represent less than 2% of my revenue) but still worth doing reasonably properly. My (corporate) clients seem quite comfortable with electronic-only, so I've been doing the same and would hate to have to spend scarce time getting fancier about it.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 19, 2004
7147 posts
910 upvotes
Cambridge, ON
houska wrote:
Apr 5th, 2017 8:00 am
This is the elephant in the room. Guidance on this varies widely. My own accountant has said electronic-only, if done systematically and with no funny business, should be fine. Word-of-mouth from other entrepreneurs sometimes says "you have to keep the paper copies" or, a bit for vaguely, "it's better/safer if you keep paper copies". Prompted -- finally -- by this thread, I just did a google search and emerged none the wiser. The best authoritative guidance from the CRA that I've found seems to be http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/records/, http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/ ... t-eng.html, and http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tp/ic78- ... r5-10e.pdf

It does seem that electronic only *should* be fine, but there are specific requirements in the pdf which I had never heard of, and was certainly not adhering to the letter of (written procedures, logbook, etc.)
I have been adhering to the spirit, in particular having a standardized procedure/workflow (for me, photoscanning directly into Evernote, not editing the image but adding text explanation to the note if needed, assigning a unique ID...) and benefiting from the note history feature of Evernote Premium to maintain an audit trail when/how/by whom (i.e. me) the records were (n)ever touched.

Has anyone sought or received authoritative guidance on this? I work as an independent consultant; these days originally-paper expense receipts are becoming fewer and fewer (just checked - seem to represent less than 2% of my revenue) but still worth doing reasonably properly. My (corporate) clients seem quite comfortable with electronic-only, so I've been doing the same and would hate to have to spend scarce time getting fancier about it.
Those are great links! Thanks.

It sounds like you don't need to keep the paper copy if you follow the imaging practices.

Seems like a little too much work for my needs to bother with a log book meeting the requirements. My receipts for a year fit into one file folder. But if someone has a lot of receipts, then setting up a system and keeping a log book as described could be worthwhile.
Member
Feb 15, 2010
421 posts
231 upvotes
Surrey
At my firm, normally when we receive requests from the CRA to support balances we just send in electronic copies without any issue. However, sometimes they do request physical copies of all receipts bound and totaled by category. Therefore, I would recommend that a digital copy be maintained and all physical records be maintained in the same order as the documents scanned. This way you have two formats available in case issues arise with one or the other. Digital also provides an easier and cleaner reference point. If one of your physical receipts print eventually disappears, if your documents are saved in the same order, you can easily prove what was on the original receipt.
Deal Addict
Mar 9, 2005
1795 posts
53 upvotes
Vaughan
Is there a free or inexpensive cloud solution to upload and categorise all the receipts so you can just ask for a report and send it to your accountant?
Deal Addict
Feb 9, 2009
4347 posts
2107 upvotes
Generally if cra audits they wanna see the big stuff anyways unless it's a full audit and generally they only go that far if they suspect fraud. But keep them digital or zip loc ...I believe you only need to keep 7 years of record so after that you can shred it all.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Oct 26, 2003
26826 posts
1672 upvotes
Winnipeg
don242 wrote:
Apr 4th, 2017 12:22 pm
Digital copy is ideal. But do not throw out the original, even if it fades. The CRA still expects to see the original receipt along with a photocopy (or digital copy).
digital is sufficient for all small stuff
4930k/32gb/256gb ssd/8tb hdd/win10pro/msi 290
bst/free stuff/btc/ether
Newbie
Apr 11, 2017
3 posts
Would it be a problem if I don't have a scanned copy, but the originals fade out?

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