Keeping a record of your business transactions is considered a top priority for a self-employed or small business owner. Keeping your records properly saves you from being audited by the IRS. Plus, staying organized will save you time during tax season.
However, we understand that keeping track of all your receipts and records can be tedious and time-consuming. That’s why in this article, we’ve outlined eight best practices to help you organize receipts and records efficiently.
1. Use a business account and credit card instead of cash
As the IRS will continue to enforce its audit rules, keeping a better set of bookkeeping and receipts for all of your expenses will help you save time and hustle. This simple yet important tip can help you cope with it. Avoid using cash — it’s easy to spend, hard to track, and nearly impossible to match up cash spent with receipts.
On the other hand, a credit card or debit card will provide you with monthly statements, enabling you to cross-check details with your paper receipts. It’s also a good idea to have a separate business account and credit card, so you don’t mix business expenses with your personal spending.
2. Save your receipts
Don’t just rely on bank statements, credit card statements, or canceled checks! The IRS won’t accept your bank or credit card statements to justify deductible expenses. You will need an itemized receipt that corresponds with the transaction.
Hang on those itemized receipts, which are also called “source documents,” for at least six years after your last Notice of Assessment since the IRS will ask to see them in the event of an audit. You can keep a physical or digital version of receipts.
3. Choose email receipts instead of paper receipts
Nowadays, many merchants offer this service to their customers. You can choose to receive your receipts via emails, label and categorize them in a specific order. Email receipts are convenient and friendly to the environment as they go straight to your inbox and clear your desk and drawers from piles of paper receipts. You can always find them easily, create expense reports, and do so much more.
4. Review your receipts once a month
Spending some time reviewing, categorizing, and organizing receipts for 30 minutes every month can make a huge difference! It keeps things manageable as the year progresses and helps you keep track of your spending so that you won’t miss out on any tax deductions.
You can purchase an accordion folder every year to store all business receipts and make sure each folder contains all receipts for the year. These folders are inexpensive and easy to obtain. They allow you to organize receipts by category and year, making it easier than ever to find any receipt even years later.
5. Make notes on the back of receipts
This is an especially great idea to keep track of dining and entertainment expenses. It’s easy to recall why you bought a printer, but it can be difficult to suddenly remember who you went to dinner with and what the business purpose was in 2015. By starting this simple habit, you will rest assured that you will not miss any dining and entertainment expense deductions for business purposes.
6. Create a spreadsheet for work-from-home expenses
Whether you have always been working from home, or you are working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will always be some noticeably deductible business expenses. These expenses include a portion of cleaning materials, utilities, home insurances, office supplies, along with part of your property taxes, mortgage interest, and capital cost allowance.
To claim these expenses, you need to calculate the percentage of your home used for business and apply that percentage to the tax deduction. Create a spreadsheet including your receipts for home office expenses throughout the year. By making it a habit to update the spreadsheet once a month, you’ll save yourself the headache of scrambling to input and tally up all your work-from-home expenses at the end of the tax year.
7. Back up your receipts
Since paper receipts tend to fade with time, keeping a digital copy of each receipt can save you from getting in trouble with the IRS. The simplest practice is to snap a picture of each receipt on your phone, then upload it to a central location later and keep it for at least six years. The IRS allows digitally stored receipts, however, don’t forget to back up stored receipts (on the cloud or a memory device) in case your hard drive crashes and deletes all your important information by accident.
8. Scan and store your receipts digitally
Storing receipts digitally has been proven to improve business efficiency. It provides several benefits including time and cost-saving, easy to store and access, tax-ready, reduces clutter, lessens the risk of data loss, increases security, and so much more.
There are plenty of receipt scanning apps that you can use to scan and store your receipt digitally. Each offers special features for particular purposes, so anyone can choose the most suitable one and benefit from it.
Shoeboxed is a painless receipt scanning and organizing solution for freelancers and small businesses owners. This versatile app serves many purposes: scan, store and organize receipts, manage business expenses, store business cards and even track mileage for business travelers.
Shoeboxed’s OCR engine and human data verification features ensure that your receipts are legibly scanned, clearly categorized, and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. What’s more, Shoeboxed enables you to create clear and comprehensive expense reports that include images of your receipts. You can then export, share or print all of the information you need for easy tax preparation or reimbursement… within a few clicks.
Organizing your receipts can keep you proactive and productive, which saves you lots of time, stress, and even money in the long run. Going digital helps you organize receipts and keep track of your expenses easier than ever. As everything is digitally stored and accessible through a cloud-based system, you will be able to work with them anytime, from anywhere, with any device, within a few clicks.