What Are The Differences Between A Bookkeeper And An Accountant?

Regardless of your business’s industry, size, and model, bookkeeping and accounting professionals play an essential role in the financial health of your business. While many people know that a bookkeeper is not the same as an accountant, they can’t put their finger on what exactly differentiates a bookkeeper vs accountant. 

In this guide, you’ll learn what separates an accountant from a bookkeeper, which your business should hire and when to employ them. 

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: An overview 

A bookkeeper starts and an accountant finishes. In other words, a bookkeeper handles the initial stage of an accounting process which is recording and organizing daily financial transactions. An accountant takes up the work done by a bookkeeper and carries on the remaining tasks of the accounting cycle. Accountants are then responsible for analyzing and interpreting data gathered by bookkeepers, consulting with business owners, and preparing financial reports. 

To look at the differences in detail, we will compare bookkeeper vs accountant in two major aspects: job description and required credentials.  

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: Job description 

Duties of a bookkeeper:

The practice of bookkeeping is far from new to the human race. Bookkeeping may have existed as early as around 2600 B.C. A bookkeeper’s core duty is to maintain complete and accurate records of the money coming in and out of business in a general ledger. Bookkeepers keep track of daily transactions in a consistent, systematic way, and their records allow the accountants to perform their jobs. 

Apart from the primary task of managing accounting ledgers, there are many other responsibilities that a company would ask from a bookkeeper.

A bookkeeper’s job description typically includes: 

  • Entering and correcting Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable
  • Reconciling accounts and matching bank transactions
  • Issuing invoices and processing payments 
  • Managing expense reports 
  • Processing payroll 
  • Adjusting entries where necessary and as instructed by the accountant

Besides the above-mentioned typical responsibilities of bookkeepers, their duties vary depending on the industrial environment and business nature. For example, if you own a cannabis business, you may want to look for someone who can use seed-to-sale software (Biotrack, MJ Freeway, METRC, etc.) Or a bookkeeper who knows how to deal with IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) will be an ideal choice for trucking businesses. 

Duties of an accountant: 

 An accountant analyzes the financial data collected by the bookkeeper to provide vital business insights and financial advice to the business owner. Accountants look at the big picture, putting key components of your business’s finances together and presenting them via financial statements. Such reports offer you a clear view of where your finances stand and what they imply, as well as what you can and should do about them and where you may anticipate your company will go in the near future.

The following are a few examples of typical requirements in an accounting job description: 

  • Preparing accounts and tax returns
  • Monitoring business spending and budgets
  • Auditing and analyzing financial performance
  • Administering payroll
  • Compiling and presenting financial and budget reports
  • Providing tax planning services 
  • Providing timely forecasts and important insights for future growth

Accounting work is often office-based, with usual 9 to 5 working hours. However, the workload typically becomes much greater during peak seasons like the tax period and the end of a fiscal year.   

In small businesses, an accountant may undertake all of the activities associated with the accounting process, but in larger businesses, various accountants are often in charge of different accounting areas. This might cover both financial and managerial accounting.

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: Credentials and licensing 

Requirements of a bookkeeper:

In most cases, bookkeepers don’t need to acquire any certificates to handle the books. Businesses or employers usually only require their bookkeepers to have a high school degree providing basic math, communication, and computer skills. Other necessary skills like time management, organization, and multitasking can also be gained in high school.

While bookkeeping is not a licensed profession, businesses sometimes ask for a certification as proof of expertise. Many big organizations offer accreditation and licensing to bookkeepers, such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

Software companies for bookkeeping and accounting such as QuickBooks, Excel, Xero offer certifications to highlight bookkeepers’ skills and abilities using these software products. So if your accounting system is heavily dependent on software, a bookkeeper with a sophisticated understanding of accounting-support programs should be your best option. That’s when these software certifications can help you. 

Requirements of an accountant:

Although not always mandatory, an accountant needs to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related fields like business, economics, finance, or management. 

In addition to a university degree, an accountant can earn advanced accounting certificates to demonstrate their competency, such as a CPA certificate. A CPA is a “certified public accountant” who has satisfied the state’s standards and passed the Uniform CPA test. They must also meet continuing education criteria to keep their certification. 

When interviewing for a CPA, seek someone knowledgeable about tax law, proficient in accounting software and with excellent communication skills. They should be familiar with your sector as well as the unique demands and expectations of small enterprises.

When to hire a bookkeeper vs. an accountant

If your business is still in the early stages and you feel confident managing all the receipts and recording transactions, you may not need a bookkeeper yet. Do your own bookkeeping and hire a part-time accountant as a financial consultant.

However, when your business starts growing you’ll soon be overwhelmed by the paperwork. Then, it’s the right time to get a full-time bookkeeper to record daily data and keep your finances organized. Plus, an accountant at this point can help you create a long-term business plan, handle taxes neatly or advise you on the legal structure. 

Before you finally decide between a bookkeeper vs accountant, consider not only their credentials and expertise but also their cost, reputation, and their experience working in your industry. 

Try Shoeboxed today!

Whether you do your own bookkeeping or hire a professional, receipts managing and organizing still causes a lot of headaches. Shoeboxed can help you digitize every receipt, automatically extract data and categorize them for you within seconds. With Shoeboxed your receipts are stored safely in the cloud, fully searchable and well-organized. 

Get started with Shoeboxed for free! 

The Why And The How Of Digitally Scanning Receipts With The Shoeboxed App: A Step-By-Step Guide

Whether you are a business owner or a freelancer, tracking expenses is an essential part of your job. In either case, using a receipt scanning application can make it easier to scan receipt and keep track of and manage your expenses. 

You’ve probably used a document scanner before and know how it works. With a piece of paper placed on the scanner’s surface, you only need to press a button, and the scanner saves an image of the document to a hard drive. A receipt scanner varies from a traditional document scanner in two fundamental aspects: it doesn’t just save an image of the receipt; and it uses OCR (optical character recognition) software to process the image, extracting data displayed on the receipt such as letters and numbers, and it will even create an expense report for you. 

Automatic receipt scanning technology brings several benefits to your business, all of which serve to make your work much easier. This article will give you a precise look at how your business can benefit from a receipt scanning application and a step-by-step guide to scan receipt with the Shoeboxed Receipt Scanning & Expense Tracking App

1. Introducing the Shoeboxed Receipt Scanning & Expense Tracking app 

At Shoeboxed, we know how troublesome it can be to sort through receipts and put together an expense report. That’s why we bring you the perfect mobile app for scanning and managing receipts to make the process of expenses as simple and painless as possible. Our significant features allow you to manage all your receipts at any time. 

The Shoeboxed app functions as an automatic receipt scanner. It essentially processes a photo of a receipt to produce a digital receipt containing all the necessary information and a wealth of useful metadata. Once your receipts are fully stored in digital format, Shoeboxed provides you with numerous useful functions. You can submit expense reports in a few clicks, have all data automatically exported to the accounting software of your choice, and can search, access, and make changes to your receipts at any time, from anywhere.

Discover more: Why Start-ups and Entrepreneurs Need Digitized Receipt Management

2. Benefits of using a receipt scanning app

Time-saving

First and foremost, the most apparent benefit of a receipt scanning app is the potential to save you a lot of time. Imagine how long it takes to enter one receipt’s worth of information into an excel spreadsheet and compare that to how long it takes to take a photo of the receipt! 

It used to take hours to go through a box of receipts. Now the whole process only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is capture an image of the receipt with your smartphone, and the app will do the rest. 

Space-saving and clutter-reducing

A great benefit of storing your financial information in digital format is the reduced need for paper storage. You can free your desk from piles of papers and get it less cluttered. This improves your work environment and allows you to get your paperwork into action. 

Data loss reduction

Normally, you need to take all your receipts and store them all in one place and choose a certain day to go through them. And there are also chances that you lose your receipts from time to time. With a receipt scanning app, you can take a photo of each receipt as soon as you get in and keep it on your smartphone. When the information is stored digitally (particularly when using cloud storage), the chances of data loss are significantly reduced. This means you no longer have to worry about receipts and invoices piling up and saves you from an unmanageably large mountain of receipts. 

Increased security

Storing important documents on a digital cloud platform is obviously safer than keeping a hard copy of those documents. Most cloud servers are intensively secured with complex encryption methods and protocols, as well as reliable backup systems, protecting your data from being lost or hacked. Additionally, digital storage means increased privacy. While anyone can pick up or read your paper documents, only specific people with given permission can access the digital-storage documents. 

Ease of access

Let’s imagine trawling through multiple boxes of receipts looking for a particular expense from several years ago. Not only would this take forever, but there is also a chance that you wouldn’t find what you were looking for. A receipt management app provides you with search tools, allowing you to search for receipts by category, time, amount, or any number of metadata that you have attached to the receipt. 

You can also add metadata to receipts (projects, expense category, location information, payment method, etc.). This is a great way to organize the receipts and make it easier to find them. For example, if you need to go over all expenses incurred during your two-week business trip to New York, simply look up the relevant category or time frame. All necessary information is right where you need it. 

And it doesn’t matter where you are or what time it is, you can access all of your financial data from any device as long as you have an internet connection. From there, you can enter new information or make changes if needed, and share data with clients, employees, or business partners at ease. 

Automatic currency conversion

When traveling around the world, you may receive a lot of receipts in different currencies. Adding a conversion step to your expense reporting can save you time and effort converting this information manually. 

FIY: Shoeboxed currently supports the following currencies: USD $, AUD $, CAD $, NZD $, MXN $, EUR €, JPY ¥, GBP £, CHF ?, HKD $, SGD $ and so much more. 

You can always change the default currency for your account so that expense reports in your account will display your receipts in your preferred currency. 

The Shoeboxed app also offers currency conversion. Shoeboxed will capture the international currency amount and convert it into your default currency when you send receipts that aren’t in your default currency. We use historical conversion rates from the European Central Bank to convert your receipt and bill to your default currency. 

Long-term and unlimited storage 

At Shoeboxed, we offer unlimited storage to keep your receipts for years! When your receipts are digitally stored, they will still be perfectly intact even when they are ten years old. On the other hand, physical receipts are prone to aging and fading, reducing clarity and legibility, potentially causing you troubles down the road. 

Court-recognized legal documents

Digital receipts are completely accepted as legal documents. The IRS and HMRC both accept digitized receipts, meaning that the process of filing tax refunds and write-offs for business expenses becomes much easier. 

Accuracy

Countless hours of data entry might weaken your accuracy. But this will no longer be a problem with the Shoeboxed Receipt Scanning & Expense Management app. Every single receipt will be processed with 100% accuracy. 

Automated expense reporting

With all of the receipt information digitally stored, generating an accurate and comprehensive report is only a few clicks away. You can then send them by email or export them to other accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, or Dropbox. 

3. A step-by-step guide to scan receipt with the Shoeboxed app

Our Shoeboxed receipt scanning app was designed to be incredibly user-friendly. To scan receipt, simply do the following:

  • Step 1: Prepare your receipt for scanning

Flatten all receipts as best you can. Then, tape any tears in each receipt. Torn receipts might not make it through the scanner correctly. You may also remove all staples and paper clips that may be attached to the receipt. 

  • Step 2: Open the Shoeboxed app, choose “Add new.”
prepare to scan receipt
  • Step 3: Take a picture of the receipt
scan receipt with the Shoeboxed app
  • Step 4: Add essential information to the receipt (such as title), and choose a category. 
add information to the receipt
add information to the receipt
  • Step 5: Scanning and processing the data
process

The Shoeboxed app extracts the most important data points on your receipts and automatically categorizes them by vendor, total spent, date, and payment type when you have scanned the receipt. Extracted data is fully searchable and editable. Our team members double-check extracted information so you can rest assured that you’re seeing human-verified, trustable data. You can always edit or add any details or metadata that you need. 

adding information to the receipt

See also: Shoeboxed human-verified data extraction feature

  • Step 6: Create an expense report for approval with the Shoeboxed app

Once everything is in place, Shoeboxed creates clear and comprehensive expense reports that include images of your receipts. You can click the “Expense report” on the left of the screen, select receipts, export, print, or email them in an email to your client, employees, or colleagues for easy tax preparation or reimbursement. Shoeboxed ensures that all of your receipts are legibly scanned, clearly categorized, and easy to locate.

create expense report

Final thoughts

Now you know how to scan receipt digitally anytime, from anywhere with a single smartphone. Having the ability to turn your paper receipts into a digital format can make your expense tracking much simpler. Furthermore, Shoeboxed is packed with features you may not have tried yet (like mileage tracking or business card storing). Get your 30-day trial now before choosing the perfect plan for your purpose!

What Is Receipt Management? 5 Best Receipt Tracker Apps For Businesses

Whether you are managing finances for your small business or filing taxes, you will need to find a method to save you time and money. Receipts from your purchases are likely to get lost in a sea of documents and miscellaneous papers, and physical documents can get damaged or destroyed. 

Converting your printed receipts and documents into digital files can solve these problems, and receipt management software is the best assistant. A receipt management app is a great way to keep your receipts stored and organized digitally. Some receipt management apps include online tools that allow you to consolidate your receipts and access them from anywhere. This article can get your feet wet with receipt management apps and why it is important to your business. 

1. What is receipt management? 

Receipt management is a fundamental aspect of general accounting. In personal finance, receipts are a method of tracking spending habits, and it goes the same way with businesses of any size. Businesses also use receipts to track revenue generation. The term “receipt management” refers to the practice of organizing, filing, and profiting by keeping an accurate and complete record of your receipts. 

Most receipt management apps work the same way. You only need to download them onto your cell phone and use them to take pictures of your receipts. The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology digitalizes all the text and numbers on those receipts and stores digital versions of them in a filing system. By scanning paper receipts and creating a digital version, you can retrieve your receipts anytime by searching with keywords and filters. 

2. Why is receipt management important?

Many businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), are dealing with up to hundreds of receipts per day. Keeping an accurate record of those receipts is a daunting task if you only rely on physical copies and traditional filing. Using a receipt tracking system will help you in: 

  • Filing receipts: Filing receipts will be much easier with a digital filing system. You can use a receipt capture application to create a digital copy of the receipts and back them up off-site to ensure no information is lost. You can keep your receipts chronologically or in categorical subfolders for quick reference.
  • Finding tax deductions: Grouping receipts by category will be beneficial for businesses when tax time arrives. Receipt tracking apps allow accountants to find tax deductions quickly and easily.
  • Auditing: Receipt management is crucial to making audits quicker if your business is ever audited. The IRS can easily verify the accuracy of all deduction claims and confirm reported revenues.

Read more: A Basic Guide To Business Audits 

3. 5 best receipt tracker apps for businesses of all sizes

There are many receipt tracker apps available that you can choose from. However, the choice depends on your business. If you want to focus on expense management, rely on corporate cards, and need fast employee reimbursement options, Expensify will be the best choice. On the contrary, if you need help scanning a box of old receipts and business documents, Shoeboxed will be a better fit. You can decide which one is the best receipt tracker app with our top five receipt tracker apps. 

Expensify: Best receipt tracker app for traveling

Platforms: iOS, Android, web browsers

Price: From $5/month

Expensify is a cloud-based receipt tracker app for iOS, Android, and web browsers. This receipt scanner is portable, online with a cloud-based system, so you don’t need to worry about the expense reports and file receipts taking up space on your device. 

Expensify is extremely helpful when you regularly have meetings or business trips to different parts of the world. Expensify saves you from stuffing post-trip receipts into your luggage when you are on the go. All you need to do is take pictures of your paper receipts with your smartphone, submit and be done with them. Expensify will automatically pull out the charges. From there, you can associate the charge with an expense report.  If you use company credit cards frequently, you can use Expensify to import those expenses from the cards. By this, you will no longer have to go through your statements at the end of each trip. To sum up, if you are looking for the best receipt tracker app to manage travel expenses, Expensify is the best choice. 

  • Shoeboxed: Best receipt tracker app for tax season

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: Starting at $18/month

Shoeboxed is an outsourced receipt-scanning service that converts paper receipts into organized digital copies on your behalf. It is suitable for accountants, freelancers, and small businesses who are drowning in physical receipts. This receipt management software is one of the most versatile options on this list as it doubles as a receipt scanner and manager. With Shoeboxed, you can mail your receipts to a Shoeboxed facility to have them scanned and organized. If you prefer not to send physical receipts to a third-party receipt scanning facility, you can upload your receipt via mobile app or email. 

If you are a sole proprietor, an LLC holder, or a freelancer, you may be able to write off expenses. But when tax time arrives, how do you sort through it all with your accountants? In this case, Shoeboxed would be the best option. It allows you to scan receipts and keep track of your mileage for tax reporting purposes. It also gives you the ability to specify which expenses are deductible, making it the ideal tool for tax time. You can create expense reports and export them to your colleagues or tax preparer right from your phone. You will finally get those receipts off your desk and into action with Shoeboxed

Neat: Best receipt tracker app for bookkeeping

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: From $25/month

If your target is to keep your books in better order, Neat is the best choice for you. You can use this app to scan and upload receipts, but Neat will take booking to the next level. It will connect your bank accounts, credit cards, and loan payments to Neat Receipts for more accurate expense tracking. It will also itemize your expenses line by line on each receipt, match receipts to your invoices and bank statements for clearer financial reconciliation. One of Neat’s great advantages is that it brings unlimited document storage. You can upload, sort, and organize as many non-financial documents as you want. 

Furthermore, Neat’s expense management data connect with accounting software (like QuickBooks) and tax software (H&R Block’s and TurboTax). You will no longer need to enter manually any of your expense reports, non-financial documents, itemized receipts as long as you logged them on Neat. 

Smart Receipts: Best receipt tracker app for multi-format reports

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: From $9.99/year

Smart Receipts is also a great choice for frequent business travelers because it stores and categorizes your expenses by trip. You can photograph and upload receipts or generate a text receipt, add comments for a more detailed explanation of what each expense entails.

Also, if you don’t travel a lot for work, Smart Receipts is still a great help. You will delineate the report by date rather than by trip so that you can track your business expenses over any given period. 

One more huge plus for Smart Receipts is that it allows you to export your reports in any format – PDFs, ZIPz, CSVs, and more. However, this app will not automatically sync with your accounting software. Instead, when you generate expense reports, you will have to add them manually to your QuickBook or Xero account. 

Wave Receipts: The most affordable accounting software

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: Free for accounting and invoicing

If you plan to minimize cost as much as possible, Wave Receipts is the best receipt scanning software. Wave Receipts integrates with other free Wave products, but it also has a drawback: It only integrates with Wave Accounting, not QuickBooks or Xero. To track expenses alongside scanning receipts, you will need to sign up for Wave Accounting and Wave Receipts. Unlike comprehensive apps like Expensify, Wave Receipts focuses on receipts only.

Final thoughts

Transforming your paper receipts into digital files and expense reports saves you from spending hours hunting through papers for information or organizing paper receipts into a logical sequence. Cloud services, mobile apps, and receipt tracking apps can automatically perform these tasks, increasing the accuracy of your finances and helping you keep track of your expenses. 

These are our five favorite receipt tracking apps. If you’d like to suggest any other receipt management software, let us know by sharing a comment!