Do I Need Receipts?

This Content Was Last Updated on March 10, 2024 by Jessica Garbett


Receipts for expenses can soon mount up and become unwieldy; additionally people are often confused about their obligations.

Here are some tips around collecting and storing receipts.


Receipt Basics

First, its a good idea to get receipts for expenses where possible, and keep them referenced back to your bookkeeping

  • A simple numbering system starting at 1 is perfectly adequate
  • They could also be numbered monthly, filed monthly, or what ever suits you.
  • If you have a lot of small receipts for the same thing, its fine to batch them up for filing and entry into your accounts.
  • Receipts can be stored in paper format or kept electronically using a scanner – so long as you can get them when needed.  A cloud system can be used, eg DropBox, GoogleDrive
  • There are apps available for scanning and saving receipts, and these may be worth looking at.  ReceiptBank is popular.  Additionally many accounting apps and programmes offer receipt storage facilities.


No Receipt?

If you don’t have a receipt then it doesn’t mean an expense cannot be claimed, but you may need to show alternative evidence to HMRC in a tax enquiry, eg a bank statement or credit card statement with the transaction on it.

For un-recipted cash expenses so long as there isn’t a lot of them a contemporaneous note of the expense will probably suffice – make a note when its incurred (eg send an email to yourself)


Issuing Receipts to Customers?

Generally there is no need to give receipts to private customers unless people ask for them.  Businesses may require an invoice.

However it is good practice to give the card slips for card transactions.


How Long to Keep Receipts for?

HMRC generally have four years after submission of your tax return to open enquiries – 1 year under general powers, and up to 4 years under discovery powers.

HMRCs own advice is to keep records – including receipts – for five years after the 31 January submission deadline of your tax return, eg:

  • 2024-25 tax year
  • Submission deadline 31 January 2026
  • Retain to 31 January 2031

Records do not need to be kept in paper form, so if you hold everything electronically you could potentially keep your records indefinitely.


Submitting Receipts

You don’t need to send your receipts to HMRC unless asked.

Some accountants like to see their clients receipts, some don’t – generally we don’t ask to see them unless there is something that needs closer attention.  Of course this doesn’t change the need to keep them filed safely.