What to Do if You Lose a Receipt: Small Business Owner's Guide

February 20, 2024
minutes to read
Alice Surdy
Table of Contents

Tax time can be a daunting period for small business owners in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as of June 2021, there were over 2.4 million actively trading businesses in Australia. For these businesses, navigating the intricacies of tax deductions, GST claims, and expenses can be challenging. One crucial piece of the puzzle is the humble receipt. In this comprehensive blog post, we'll delve into the importance of receipts for small business taxes, what to do if you lose one, and how Thriday, the innovative receipt tracking platform, can simplify your receipt tracking and tax deduction process.

Why is a Receipt Required for Tax Time?

Before we dive into the "what ifs" of lost receipts, it's essential to understand why receipts are crucial for small business taxes. Receipts are concrete evidence of a transaction – proof that you've incurred an expense related to your business. According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), maintaining accurate records, including receipts, is not just important; it's mandatory. In fact, the ATO requires businesses to keep these records for at least five years. These records not only help substantiate your tax claims but also protect you in case of an audit.

If I Lost My Receipt, Can I Get Another One?

Losing a receipt is not uncommon, but it can be worrisome, especially when tax season is around the corner. However, all hope is not lost. You can often obtain a duplicate receipt from the business where you made the purchase. Reach out to them with details like the date of purchase, the transaction amount, and other relevant information. Some companies may issue a copy or verify the transaction for you.

This process can benefit small business owners who often purchase supplies or services from the same vendors. Maintaining a good relationship with your suppliers can make it easier to request duplicate receipts when needed.

Can You Claim Expenses Without a Receipt?

While it's always best to have a physical receipt, the ATO recognises that things don't always go as planned. You can still claim expenses without a receipt, but strict conditions exist. The expense must be work-related and under $82.50 (including GST). However, remember that claiming without a receipt might raise red flags during an audit, so it's best to keep this practice to a minimum.

For small cash expenses that meet these criteria, such as office supplies or minor equipment purchases, create a spreadsheet or use accounting software like Thriday to track them. Note the date, vendor, amount, and expense description. This way, you can demonstrate to the ATO that these claims are legitimate if questioned.

How Do I Get Proof of Purchase If I Lost My Receipt?

If you can't obtain a duplicate receipt from the business, there are alternative ways to prove your purchase:

  1. Bank Statements: Your bank statement can serve as proof of purchase, showing the date, amount, and the business's name where the transaction occurred. While it's not as strong as a receipt, it's better than nothing. To ensure you have clear records, consider using a business bank account for all transactions related to your business.
  2. Emails: If you made an online purchase, the confirmation email can be used as proof of purchase. Ensure it contains all the necessary transaction details. Organise your business emails by creating folders or labels to locate purchase confirmations quickly.
  3. Photos and Notes: If you're old-school and prefer pen and paper, take a picture of your purchases and jot down essential details immediately. This can act as a secondary form of proof. Consider creating a physical filing system or use a digital note-taking app to store these records efficiently.

Can I Use My Bank Statement as a Receipt?

Using your bank statement as a receipt is possible, but there are better solutions than this. The ATO prefers receipts because they contain more detailed information about the transaction, such as the items purchased, their costs, and GST. Bank statements may lack this granularity, potentially causing issues during an audit. Therefore, it's advisable to use bank statements as a last resort. If you need to rely on bank statements, annotate your statements with additional details about the expenses.

Is an Email Proof of Purchase?

Yes, an email confirmation can serve as proof of purchase, especially for online transactions. It should include essential details like the date, business name, transaction amount, and a description of the items or services purchased. Store these emails in a dedicated folder for easy retrieval during tax season. Additionally, consider using cloud-based email services that provide robust search and organisation features to simplify locating these critical emails.

Scanning receipts with the Thriday app makes tax time, relax time

What Deductions Can Be Claimed Without a Receipt?

While receipts are the gold standard for claiming deductions, some expenses don't require them. These include:

  1. Small Cash Expenses: As mentioned earlier, expenses under $82.50 (including GST) can be claimed without a receipt, provided they are work-related. These may include minor office supplies, parking fees, or public transport expenses.
  2. Travel Expenses: In some cases, you may be able to claim travel expenses without receipts, but you'll need to provide alternative evidence, like a diary or logbook, to prove the business purpose of the trip. Maintaining detailed records of your business-related travel is crucial, including dates, destinations, and reasons for travel.
  3. Home Office Expenses: Home-based businesses can claim certain expenses based on a reasonable estimate without providing receipts. However, a dedicated home office space must be used exclusively for your business activities. Keep meticulous records of your home office expenses, including utility bills, rent or mortgage interest, and maintenance costs.

How Does Thriday Track Receipts and Tax Deductions?

Now that we've explored the intricacies of receipts and deductions let's introduce Thriday, your small business tax companion. According to a survey by the RBA, 45% of small businesses in Australia use accounting software to manage their finances, and Thriday is here to make your life even easier. Thriday simplifies the process of tracking receipts and maximising your tax deductions. Here's how it works:

  1. Receipt Scanning: Thriday allows you to scan and upload your receipts directly to the platform. No more paper clutter or lost receipts. This feature saves you time and ensures that you have digital records of all your transactions, making retrieval and organisation a breeze.
  2. Categorisation: Thriday categorises your expenses, making identifying potential deductions easier and staying organised. By automatically categorising expenses, it minimises the risk of misclassifying transactions and ensures that you're claiming all eligible deductions.
  3. Real-time GST Tracking: Thriday calculates your GST liability in real-time, ensuring you're always aware of your obligations. This feature simplifies managing your GST reporting and helps you avoid costly mistakes or oversights.
  4. Tax Deduction Suggestions: Thriday analyses your expenses and suggests potential deductions based on Australian tax laws, ensuring you get all eligible claims. Thriday helps you maximise your deductions and reduce your tax liability by providing proactive suggestions.
  5. Reports and Summaries: Thriday generates reports and summaries that you can use for tax filing, making the process smoother and more accurate. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of your financial data, making it easier to complete your tax returns and meet your reporting obligations.

Receipt FAQs

Before we wrap up, let's address some common questions about receipts and taxes for small businesses in Australia:

How Long Should I Keep My Receipts?

Keep your receipts for at least five years, as required by the ATO. Retaining records for this duration is essential to comply with tax regulations and be prepared for potential audits.

Can I Claim GST on My Purchases Without a Receipt?

No, you need a valid receipt to claim GST credits. The ATO requires that you have documentary evidence to support your GST claims; a receipt is the primary evidence.

Do I Need to Keep Physical Copies of Receipts?

No, electronic copies of receipts are acceptable as long as they contain all the necessary details. Digital record-keeping can be more efficient and space-saving than maintaining physical copies.

Can I Claim Expenses from Previous Years If I Find the Receipts Later?

You can amend your tax return to claim expenses from previous years if you discover the receipts later. However, rectifying any omissions or errors as soon as possible is advisable to avoid potential penalties or interest charges.

Key Takeaways

Losing a receipt can be stressful, but it doesn't have to derail your small business tax preparations. With proper record-keeping practices and the assistance of tools like Thriday, you can confidently navigate tax time, maximise your deductions, and ensure compliance with the ATO's requirements. Join Thriday for free today and take the first step toward stress-free tax management for your small business. Your financial future will thank you. Thriday is your ally in simplifying the complexities of small business tax season, helping you save time, reduce errors, and optimise your financial well-being.

DISCLAIMER: Team Thrive Pty Ltd ABN 15 637 676 496 (Thriday) is an authorised representative (No.1297601) of Regional Australia Bank ABN 21 087 650 360  AFSL 241167 (Regional Australia Bank).  Regional Australia Bank is the issuer of the transaction account and debit card available through Thriday. Any information provided by Thriday is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether Thriday is appropriate for you.

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