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7th August 2020

The rules

HMRC requires that business expenses receipts are kept for a minimum of six years (from the end of your current accounting year). Apart from retaining them, it is essential that you have a file system that is easy to navigate and manage.


Sounds easy enough, but it is often missed: make sure that the receipt you receive is, in fact, an invoice. Companies nowadays send out multiple e-mails with your order confirmations, delivery confirmations but more often than not, you have to have to ask for an actual invoice.

If you are VAT registered and planning on reclaiming the VAT on the item you bought, make sure that the receipt is a VAT invoice. It has to have the seller’s VAT number and the tax breakdown of the final price. Some companies only provide VAT invoices upon request, even though they are legally obligated to provide one if they are VAT registered.

Business or personal?

Whenever you are buying something higher in value and with a longer life for business use, like a laptop, ensure that the invoice is made out to your company. Should HMRC decide to have a look at your records, this will work in your favour as evidence that it was indeed purchased for the business. It also helps if you pay for it with the business card.

Scan or photo?

HMRC nowadays accepts scanned copies of your receipts in the majority of cases, so the job is a lot easier, especially if you are using a cloud accounting software or app that helps you store them.

Some receipts are now double-sided for environmental reasons, so ensure that you don’t miss critical information printed on the back.

How to organise them

When you use a standalone app, try to save copies in chronological order and have a folder system you can back-up somewhere. There are many apps out there; it is probably a good idea to experiment with them and see which fits your needs exactly.

Your job is a bit easier if you have a cloud accounting software like FreeAgent that allows you to take a snap of the receipt and attach it at the time it is entered onto the system. Should you need them, they can be printed or exported in bulk.

Contact us

If you have any questions or would you like to know more, feel free to contact us at 0800 917 9100 or e-mail info@myaccountant.co.uk

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