Business Receipts Basics: What You Need to Keep for Tax Seasons?

As a small business owner, you know that you need to keep track of your business’s financial documents for tax purposes. Those documents include business receipts, bank statements, purchase history, credit card statements, online banking records, and a lot more. 

However, staying on top of those documents isn’t as easy as a walk in the park. Which business receipts should you keep? And for how long? And in what form? This article will answer all these burning questions.  

Which receipts do small business owners need to keep?


According to the IRS, keeping good records will help you monitor the progress of your business, prepare your financial statements, and identify sources of income. From that, you can keep track of deductible expenses and prepare your tax returns easier.

On the other hand, the IRS doesn’t explicitly mention the possibility of being in trouble if you don’t keep the right documents. When it comes to keeping receipts for tax preparation, it’s a good idea to be “better safe than sorry” and keep all documents related to your business. It’s even better to consult with a professional accountant about this. However, as a starting point, here are a few types of business receipts that you should absolutely keep:

Inventory

Did you buy inventories to sell to your customers? Or did you sell things made from raw materials? If so, you should definitely hang on to documents that identify the payee, the amount, and proof of payment for the items. Try to get a receipt for all these purchases. However, if you can’t get a receipt, keep the invoice and canceled check (proof that the check has been paid.)

Business assets

The term “business assets” refers to the property you own and use in your business. Furniture, computers, vehicles, or machinery are typical examples of assets. If you’ve ever tried to file assets for taxes on your own, you know that you’ll have to deal with a complicated thing like “depreciation.”

To make tracking depreciation easier, you should keep track of when, where, and how much money you’ve spent on your business assets. For example, you can keep receipts of when you purchase your company’s computers. You’ll also want to keep records of when you sell one of your assets.

Other business-related expenses

Most of your business receipts will likely fall into this category. Though every business is different, here are the most common examples of business-related expenses:

  • Advertising: Advertising expenses include designing and purchasing business cards, online and offline advertising, billboards, web hosting, etc. 
  • Vehicle expenses: Vehicle expenses such as gas and maintenance fees are tax-deductible, so don’t throw away those receipts!
  • Education expenses: This expense applies when you hire a professional or an education service to train yourself or your employee. Don’t forget to keep your invoice or receipt and your bank records to prove that you paid for the education expenses. 
  • Professional services: This expense applies when you hire a lawyer, accountant, bookkeeper, or graphic designer to work for a certain period of time. You will need to keep the invoice and the receipt when you pay the bill. 
  • Entertainment: Entertainment expenses such as taking clients out for lunch can be tax-deductible, but you need to pay close attention. You have to keep both the receipt and records showing that your activities were directly business-related (e.g., an email invitation for a business lunch.)
  • Networking: If you attend a networking event or conference, you’ll need to keep your receipts, bills, and bank records as proof of purchase.
  • Office supplies: Extra office expenses, such as printers, staples, paperclips, scanners, etc., are tax-deductible. So don’t forget to take the receipts every time you visit office supply stores! 
  • Travel expenses: During your work, you may need to visit a client or attend a conference in another state. Though the IRS requires specific qualifications for deductible travel expenses, you can keep certain receipts or bills of your travel expenses to deduct all or part of a trip. You can check out our article on how to manage your business travel expenses effectively.

How long should you keep business receipts?

In general, you should keep business receipts for three years (from the date you file your tax return). In some special circumstances where fraud or severe tax underpayment is suspected, the IRS might require you to keep your receipts for up to six years. For example, if you underpaid your taxes by more than 25 percent, you will need to keep those records on hand. 

How Shoeboxed can help you digitally store your business receipts

Years’ worth of business receipts can result in piles of papers. Fortunately, no one says that you have to keep all your business receipts in their original paper form. So, what’s the best alternative to save all your documents for any potential IRS audit? 

The answer is to digitize them. As the IRS accepts digital receipts, you don’t need to store physical copies of your bank statements, purchase history, or credit card statements. Today, there are many receipt scanning apps that help you digitize paper receipts and save them for years.

Shoeboxed is an all-in-one receipt management app for small business owners and freelance accountants. With an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine and human-verified feature, Shoeboxed ensures that your business receipts are precisely scanned, clearly located, and easy to track. You can then create clear and comprehensive expense reports that include images of your receipts, export, share or print all the information you need for easy tax preparation or reimbursement… within a few clicks. 

Moreover, Shoeboxed‘s mileage tracking and business card storing features make it a one-touch app to store and access all your business’s important information. 
Sign up and go paperless with Shoeboxed today!

4 Most Used Budgeting Methods for Businesses

A budget is a crucial planning tool for every business. It estimates your future expenses, revenue, and profits. It helps you better control spending and identify situations where revenue may not be sufficient to cover expenditures. Moreover, a budget allows you to realize potential growth opportunities when you may have extra cash available to invest in new ventures.

This article will look into four different budgeting methods used widely among businesses and help you find the one that best suits your current situation and type of organization.

4 Types of budgeting methods: Which one is right for your business? 

Below are the most common types of budgeting methods that you may want to consider for your business.

Budgeting method #1: Incremental budgeting 

One of the most popular approaches is incremental budgeting. There’s no fixed formula for incremental budgeting – you simply change last year’s budget by an increment or percentage to obtain this year’s budget figure. 

This method focuses on small changes from the actual or budgeted results from the preceding period. It’s perfect when your primary cost-driving factors don’t regularly change. Without the need for complex calculations, incremental budgeting is the quickest of all budgeting methods. However, be aware that your company’s departments may overspend to avoid receiving a smaller budget the following fiscal year. It’s best to look into specific expenditures and spending habits to prevent any kinds of budgetary slack. 

Best for: Those who are limited on time but need a method that is  effective and reasonable. It’s also well-suited if you have an established business with predictable and consistent cash flow and financial activities. 

See also: How To Create a Business Budget with 7 Steps.

Budgeting method #2: Activity-based budgeting (ABB)

Activity-based budgeting (ABB) is a budgeting method in which every activity that incurs costs is tracked and analyzed to identify areas for improved cost-saving. After figuring out how to enhance cost-efficiency, a business will create a budget based on those findings. Companies typically employ this budgeting method to cut expenses, boost productivity, gain a competitive advantage, and improve overall operations efficiency. Rather than just using the past budgets to determine a new budget like the incremental budgeting method, the ABB system digs deeper into the company’s performance.

The ABB system gives you more control over the budgeting process. Since the budget uses relatively precise data for the projections, it helps managers align the budget with overall company goals much easier. Due to its complexity, the ABB method is more expensive and time-consuming to implement and maintain.

Best for: New companies without historical budgeting data should consider this method. The ABB method is also popular in major industries, like manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. Companies that are going under significant changes, such as new subsidiaries, large clients, business locations, or products, are likely to use the ABB technique as well.  

Budgeting method #3: Value proposition budgeting (VPB) 

Value proposition budgeting (VPB), or priority-based budgeting, is all about driving value. With this method, you go through every cost item to decide whether the value it brings justifies its cost. This allows your business to focus on true value drivers while avoiding wasteful spending. One of the main downsides of the VPB method is that value is not easy to determine as it depends on multiple factors like politics or economic trends. If there isn’t a clear understanding of value, business owners may make short-term decisions that negatively influence long-term goals. 

When preparing for the VPB method, businesses have to answer these essential questions:

  • Why are we spending this amount of money?
  • What value does it bring to our customers and stakeholders? 
  • Does the value outweigh the cost? 

Best for: This method best suits companies aiming to reduce unnecessary expenses and refocus on creating what customers want most. Many government entities also favor this budgeting method because it involves a lot of financial restructuring throughout the year, and VPB can help them identify which services are most valuable and most needed within the community.

See also: Are You Maximizing Your Business Budget?

Budgeting method #4: Zero-based budgeting (ZBB)

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is another common budgeting method. When applying the ZBB method, you assume that all department budgets are zero and must be rebuilt from scratch. In other words, past budgets’ numbers are not considered. Budget planners must justify every penny spent. The ZBB method is very strict, attempting to eliminate any expenses that do not contribute to the company’s profit. It’s difficult and time-consuming to carry out a zero-based budget, so many companies only use this approach on occasion.

Best for: This extreme budgeting method is very useful when a business has an urgent need to reduce cost, for example, a financial restructuring.  

The bottom line 

Employing a suitable budgeting method for your business is an effective way to save costs, increase productivity, and bring in more profits. 

By understanding the basics of commonly-used budgeting methods among businesses, you can gain a deeper insight into your own business’s situation to improve your financial performance. 

In order to determine your ideal budgeting method, it’s important that you have accurately recorded expenses. In order to do so, you need to have your receipts organized and stored safely.  

Shoeboxed can help you. 

Shoeboxed is a well-trusted tool to help businesses, freelancers, and DIY accountants store and organize their receipts. It is a software program that quickly and efficiently digitizes your receipts and documents. This app automatically extracts, verifies, and categorizes important data from your receipts, then stores them securely in the cloud. Most importantly, scanned documents from Shoeboxed are accepted by the IRS


Go paperless with Shoeboxed for FREE today!

How To Send An Invoice Through Email

Every business wants to receive payments on time — who doesn’t? 

While the exact timing of payments depends on your customers, there are some things that you can do to accelerate this process. One of them is to send your invoice via email. 

Read on to find out the great benefits of email invoicing and get practical information on how to send an invoice through email. 

Why should you send invoices via email? 

There is a multitude of reasons why sending invoices via email is beneficial for your business: 

It saves you money

Many businesses opt to send their invoices the traditional way – by post. This comes with a number of incidental costs including delivery fees, stamp fees, stationary fees like paper, envelopes, and more. These expenses may seem relatively small at first, but they add up over the life of a business. 

With email invoicing, you can forget about all of the expenses. Simply attach your invoice to your email, and you’re good to go!

It also saves you time 

Posting your invoices is extremely time-consuming – you have to print the invoices, fill in the required delivery information, package them accordingly and make a trip to the mailbox. You then have to wait and from there it’s in the hands of the delivery company or postal service. Unless you pay for express delivery, delivery dates and times are rarely certain. That means there is no guarantee when your customer will receive their invoice, not to mention the risks of missing or damaged invoices during the process. Emailing invoices can prevent all of those problems. It offers peace of mind and lets you have more time to focus on activities that add core value to the business. 

It is easier to keep track

Sending invoices via email provides an easily accessible proof of delivery securely stored on your computer. Whenever you want to check, you can just go into your “Sent” folder to see the date and time that you sent your invoices. On top of that, you can also request a “delivery” receipt or “read” receipt before sending the email. That means you will get notified when your email has arrived in a client’s inbox and when your client opens it.

It helps you get paid faster

When you send invoice emails, you can technically receive your payments sooner. If your clients receive invoices earlier, they can start the payment process sooner, too. 

how to send an invoice through email

How to send an invoice through email?  

To send an invoice through email professionally, you should follow these three simple steps: 

  • Create a digital copy of your invoice
  • Attach your invoice to the email 
  • Write a formal invoicing email to your customers 

Let’s break them down and look at each step in detail as below:

Step 1: Create an invoice 

You can customize an invoice by yourself using free templates on the Internet. Here are some useful links that offer free invoicing templates:

You can also generate an invoice directly from your accounting or invoicing software if you use one.  

Make sure your invoices are clear, easy to read, and have all the important information like invoice number, vendor and client details, purchase order number, description of products or services, payment options, etc. 

Step 2: Attach your invoice  

Instead of pasting your invoice into the body of the email, attach it as a downloadable PDF file. This enables your clients to save, print, or upload your invoice to their accounting software. Plus, you will leave a professional and caring impression on your customers, which enhances your customer relationships. 

Step 3: Write an email 

Writing emails can be time-consuming, especially if you have a lot of customers to invoice. Using a template can cut down on the amount of time spent on every invoice. Below is an example of a basic template that you can use when sending invoices to your customers: 

Subject: Invoice [invoice number] for [product/service name] due [invoice due date]

Hi [Recipient’s name],

I hope you’re well. Please find the attached invoice [invoice number] for [product/service name], due on [invoice due date] below. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

[Sender’s name]

How can Shoeboxed help you with email invoicing? 

Shoeboxed is a receipt scanner application that turns your document into digital in seconds. It is a well-trusted tool to help businesses, freelancers, and DIY accountants store and organize their receipts. Understanding the rising popularity of email invoicing, Shoeboxed offers some features associated with this process for users: 

Forward or send scanned receipts 

You can forward or send a digital receipt to any email address directly from the Shoeboxed app. This is helpful when you only have the paper copy of your receipts available. Plus, employees in your company can leverage this feature to send a quick expense report (with receipts attached) to you for reimbursement. It can help you avoid fraud and lost or damaged receipts.  

Automatically archive receipts from Gmail

Whenever you receive an invoice in your Gmail inbox, Shoeboxed automatically picks it out and submits it to your Shoeboxed software. Those receipts are then labeled “Sent to Shoeboxed” in your Gmail account. 

Next, Shoeboxed will process your receipts, extract, human-verify, and categorize important data from your receipts. With this feature, you no longer have to worry whether you miss any invoices swimming around in your Gmail inbox. 

Start going paperless today with Shoeboxed!

Want to read more about business? 

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship stories, business tips, or productivity tools, find more posts like this on the Shoeboxed Blog.

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