Do I have to keep original tax receipts?

I’m a big believer in the ‘paperless office’ for Hartigan Law, but how does the ATO feel about it?

In another article, I looked at how long you have to keep your tax records. Now I look at the way you actually have to keep these records.

When it comes to your business tax records, the tax law simply requires that you keep these records in writing and in English, or in a form that is convertible to English. This means that you can keep these records in paper form or electronically. If they’re electronic, then you should make sure that they are an accurate copy of the original.

Why should I keep electronic receipts?

There are many benefits to storing your receipts electronically:

  • electronic records require less storage space
  • it’s much easier to back up electronic copies than hard copies
  • it’s easier to share these with your advisers, such as your bookkeeper and accountant
  • electronic receipts don’t fade in the same way as receipts printed on thermal paper

How should I keep electronic receipts?

Before you convert your receipts, think about the following:

  • What’s your system to make sure you capture all of your receipts – e.g. do you always put them in the same place before you convert them to electronic format?
  • Will you scan them, or take a photo using your phone?
  • Where do you store them? In a cloud accounting system, such as Xero, or on your hard drive?
  • Do you have a back up system in place?

What if I didn’t get a receipt?

If you want to claim a deduction but you don’t have a receipt for that transaction, then you still have some options. For example, if you’ve paid the expense electronically, your bank statement will be useful to support the transaction so long as it contains enough details. In other circumstances, a diary record of the expense may be sufficient. Either way, you should make sure you have a record of the supplier, the date, the amount, and what goods or services you purchased.

Hartigan Law specialises in helping taxpayers when they find themselves in a fight with the ATO. I help clients all over Australia to deal with the ATO and resolve their tax disputes. If you’re having trouble with the ATO, then call me on 1300 75 84 84 or get in touch with me here to arrange a consultation. No matter where you are in Australia, I can help you.