Does The IRS Accept Receipt Scan for Tax Deductions?

As the 2021 tax season comes to an end, the stress is starting to creep up on business owners. Preparations can be taxing on business owners, often involving numerous steps. This includes double-checking accounting records, going over their tax claims to make sure the final numbers are correct, and sorting through piles of receipts that they’ve hung onto to submit to the IRS. If you’re looking to streamline this process by digitizing your receipts, you may be wondering—does the IRS accept your receipt scans? can receipt scans legally support your tax write-offs the same as original paper receipts? 

We are here to put your mind at ease. 

The short answer to your worries is yes. Receipt scans are 100% legitimate and approved by the IRS. In fact, the IRS has accepted scanned and digitized receipts as valid tax records for tax purposes since 1997! As such, scanned receipts must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible. 

Read on to find out if your receipt scans have met all of the IRS’s requirements. 

What are the requirements for a receipt scan to be accepted by the IRS?  

According to the IRS, digital or scanned receipts must meet the following requirements:

  • Receipt scans are completely identical to their original versions.
  • Each receipt scan must exhibit a high degree of legibility and readability. 
  • You must be able to provide hard copies of the scanned receipts in the event of an IRS audit.
  • Scanned documents must be stored in a secure place.

If you can ensure your scanned receipts are properly stored and backed up, and you can reproduce hard copies from them in a legible, readable format, you may dispose of the original receipts. 

You might also be interested in: Understanding the IRS’s Tax Underpayment Penalty and How to Avoid It.

What is the most effective way to scan your receipts? 

If you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to scan your receipts, Shoeboxed is what you need. Since 2007, Shoeboxed has helped many accountants, freelancers, and businesses scan, digitize and store their receipts safely in the cloud. Simply scan your receipts with your phone with just a click, and perfect digital versions of your paper receipts will appear in your Shoeboxed app!

On top of that, Shoeboxed automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. 

In case you have too many receipts and too little time to deal with them, send your piles of documents using the Shoeboxed Magic Envelope, and the Shoeboxed team will take care of the rest. Just send and watch them transform into organized digital data.  

Quick, reliable, and trustworthy, Shoeboxed guarantees that the digital versions of your receipts are in precise format, audit-ready, and accepted by the IRS in the event of an audit.
Try Shoeboxed right now and get 25% off all plans

Be Careful About Restocking Fees

Many people that are signing up for Shoeboxed ask about returns and exchanges. If you have a scanned copy of a receipt that is printed out from Shoeboxed, is that going to cut it when you go in to return or exchange something? There may be some exceptions, but the very large majority of retailers will accept a scanned copy of a receipt as long as it is readable and the bar code is not compromised in any way. We’ve never had any one complain about taking in a Shoeboxed receipt and not having it accepted.

There are some things that you do want to make sure in general with returns, though. One is the elusive restocking fee. Some stores charge you when you return an item for what it costs them to restock it. This can be up to 15%, which is a pretty penny if the item is over a few hundred dollars.

I wanted to post an email here that has been around on a couple of other places on the Internet about Best Buy’s restocking fee policy. Just wanted to let you know about these policies so you can be a smart shopper! Shoeboxed had nothing to do with the content, and doesn’t endorse the rant necessarily. Just wanted you to see it :).

Best Buy has some bad policies…. If you purchase something from, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, JC Penny, Sears, etc., and you return the item with the receipt, they will give you your money back if you paid cash or credit your account if paid by plastic.

I purchased a GPS for my car, a Tom Tom XLS from “Best Buy”. They have a policy that it must be returned within 14 days for a refund!

So after 4 days, I returned it in the original box with all the items in the box, with paper work and cords all wrapped in the plastic just as I received it, including the receipt.

I explained to the lady at the return desk I did not like the way it could not find store names. The lady at the refund desk said there is a 15% restock fee for items returned.

I said no one told me that. I said how much would that be. She said it goes by the price of the item. It will be $45.00 dollars for you. I said all you’re going to do is walk over and place it back on the shelf then charge me $45.00 of my money for restocking? She said that’s the store policy.

I said if more people were aware of it, they would not buy anything here! If I bought a $2000.00 computer or TV and returned it, I would be charged $300.00 dollars restock fee? She said yes.

I said OK, just give me my money minus the restock fee. She said since the item is over $200.00 dollars, she can’t give me my money back!!! Corporate has to and they will mail you a check in 7 to ten days!!

I said “WHAT?!” It’s my money!! I paid in cash! I want to buy a different brand. Now, I have to wait 7 to 10 days. She said, “Well, our policy is on the back of your receipt.”

I said, do you read the front or back of your receipt? She said well, the front! I said so do I. I want to talk to the Manager! So the manager comes over. I explained everything to him and he said, well, sir, they should have told you about the policy when you got the item.

I said, “No one has ever told me about the check refund or restock fee. Whenever I bought items from computers to TVs from Best Buy, the only thing they ever discussed was the worthless extended warranty program.”

He said, “Well, I can give you corporate phone number. “I called corporate. The guy said, well, I’m not supposed to do this but I can give you a 45.00 dollar gift card and you can use it at Best Buy. I told him if I bought something and returned it, you would charge me a restock fee on the item. You can keep your gift card, I’m never shopping in Best Buy ever again, and if I would have been smart, I would have charged the whole thing on my credit card! Then I would have canceled the transaction. I would have gotten all my money back including your stupid fees! He didn’t say a word!

I informed him that I was going to e-mail my friends and give them a heads up on this stores policy, as they don’t tell you about all the little caveats.

So please pass this on. It may save your friends from having a bad experience of shopping at Best Buy.

My Amazon Receipt

I’ve been using Receipt Mail-In since we first started offering it. I have over a thousand receipts in my own account now, as I send in about 50 every month to be scanned and uploaded.

With all these paper receipts in my account, it’s certainly cool to watch my statistics grow and evolve over time. For some reason, though, with all the paper receipts I got to play around with, I realized that I hadn’t really be shopping online all that much recently.

So then I thought: might as well make an impulse buy. And to Amazon I went. I bought a couple of books and gave them my Shoeboxed email address. They came right into my account, right along with all my paper receipts. Voila!

This was the original feature of Shoeboxed when we launched our website last summer, but it’s still my favorite.

So remember, every time you buy something online, tell the store that your email is address is your username @shoeboxed.com. The receipts that they send you will come right into your Shoeboxed account. Follow up emails that they attempt to send you at your Shoeboxed email address, will be separated out from your receipts in Your Shopping Inbox inside your Shoeboxed acccount.

Old email receipts that you are hiding in your email client can be forwarded to your Shoeboxed account as well. Though it may be kind of a pain to search for all those old receipts in your cluttered inbox, just think: This is the last time you’ll ever have to do it, because Shoeboxed will organize them for you.