Traditionally, issuing and storing paper receipts has been one of the more painful parts of running a business. Time consuming and cumbersome, paper receipts are in the same ballpark as telegraphs and fax machines: clunky relics of a bygone age.
Luckily, paper receipts are now becoming a thing of the past. Now, digital capture and storage of invoices and receipts is sufficient to satisfy legal and tax requirements in a number of European Union countries. Crucially, this now includes the United Kingdom.
Here, we’ll take a look at the current state of play with digital receipts, and your options if you want to start storing receipts digitally.
Digital receipts: the new normal
Traditionally, businesses have been legally required to collect and store physical paper copies of customer receipts, as well as receipts for expenses paid to staff. This used to be a crucial part of company record-keeping, particularly in satisfying tax requirements and planning for potential audit.
We’re happy to report this is changing. Though there are still inconsistencies between countries, the general trend is leaning away from paper and towards the digital capture and storage of receipts. So you can say goodbye to those teetering stacks of paper.
United Kingdom: Digital receipts for HMRC
As of 17 April 2018, HMRC has confirmed that the electronic capture and storage of receipts fulfills legal and taxation requirements for businesses based in the United Kingdom, providing information is stored securely in a way which retains the integrity of original data.
If your business is on the cusp of switching to digital receipts and tossing out those stacks and stacks of paper receipts, you can now do so confidently. Happy days!
France: e-Receipts & LPF
As of March 2017, the LPF (Livre des Procédures fiscales) no longer requires French companies to keep a physical copy of their receipts, providing they have a legally certified digital copy.
Article A 102 B-2 in the Book of Tax Procedures states that a digital receipt is sufficient to ensure legal compliance, so long as it:
- Cannot be modified from the original
- Is saved as a PDF
- Includes a legal stamp to guarantee integrity and authenticity
- Is stored for at least six years
Spendesk satisfies all of these requirements, automatically storing receipts for 10 years. But more on this shortly.
Outside of France and the United Kingdom, the rest of the world is something of a mixed bag when it comes to the digital capture and storage of receipts.
Digital receipts are legally recognized in:
- The Netherlands
- The United States
The following countries recognize digital receipts, subject to additional requirements:
These additional requirements can include, among other things:
- The storage of digital files in two separate places
- The storage of files somewhere other than servers or a hard drive
- The switch to digital files only after three years have elapsed since receipt issue
- The approval of a receipt by an internal person responsible for e-archiving
These country-specific requirements remain subject to change. If you have detailed questions about the treatment of digitized receipts in a particular country, you should refer to guidance issued by a government authority.
What are your options for electronic receipts?
For starters, you could stick with the filing system you have. Maybe it's not such a chore having to copy and store hard copy receipts for every business expense.
But it's also totally unnecessary! Now that so many countries are allowing a switch to digital receipts and invoices, you’ll no doubt want to take advantage of the convenience and efficiency of paperless receipt management.
The widespread use of smartphones makes it easier than ever to create high-quality images of physical receipts and convert these to secure PDFs. If you prefer to go it alone, you could easily create your own manual system for storing digital receipts, with filters for clients, time periods, and invoice status.
However, one significant downside of this DIY approach is that your electronic receipts may not satisfy legal requirements. Your files need to be stamped with information regarding date and origin. And failing to comply with these integrity requirements could lead to major issues for you later down the track.
What’s more, the DIY approach could create limitations in terms of retrieving and categorizing receipts. Depending on the size and nature of your business, you’ll have hundreds (if not thousands) of receipts.
You need a way to find these quickly and accurately, all while being certain that receipts aren’t slipping through the cracks.
For peace of mind, you may wish to consider the software tools available for the secure and convenient capture and management of digital receipts.
Spendesk - for quick and easy e-receipts
With its automated and streamlined digitization feature, Spendesk helps drag paper receipts kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Spendesk’s electronic capture and storage features help you save time and avoid stress, all while helping to ensure your legal compliance.
How does it work?
Spendesk’s Certified eReceipts let you digitize and archive your receipts securely and conveniently, with the following three steps:
- Take and upload a photograph of your paper receipt
- Spendesk will automatically date and legally seal your receipt, converting it into a secure PDF for safe storage
- You can then quickly and easily retrieve your digital receipts from Spendesk’s encrypted vault
Spendesk partners with Universign and Amazon Glacier Vaults, ensuring legal compliance. Universign certifies the authenticity of your receipts, and Amazon securely stores your electronic documents with its encrypted archiving system.
This ensures an organised record of all of your payments, and allows for quick and easy reference to original receipt documentation for auditing and bookkeeping purposes.
The benefits of Spendesk eReceipts
Besides mitigating the very real risk of paper avalanches, Spendesk’s automatic receipt digitization feature helps guarantee your compliance with taxation requirements and future-proof your business in case of future audit.
With Spendesk, receipts are dematerialized to a PDF, meaning less clutter in your workplace and lower storage costs. What’s more, receipts are electronically dated, signed and sealed, helping you to ensure a clear, accurate and comprehensive audit trail.
Spendesk safeguards your receipts for ten years, significantly exceeding legal requirements.
Modern businesses need paperless receipts
Now that an increasing number of countries have paved the way for the switch from paper receipts to digital records, we suggest you move with the times. Avoid the hassle of managing paper receipts, and switch to a paperless system.
With Spendesk, receipts are one less thing to worry about. You can rest easy knowing your receipts are automatically dated, signed and sealed, are stored in a way ensuring the integrity and security of information, and are quickly and easily retrievable.
For a painless and paperless option, go with Spendesk.
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