An unavoidable aspect of being a consumer in today’s society is the inevitable accumulation of receipts that clutter up your filing cabinets and work areas. Unfortunately for most people, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) advises Australian residents that for tax purposes you should keep any written evidence supporting tax deductions for up to five years from the date that your tax return is lodged. As you can imagine, this results in a lot of receipts floating around.
There are several new strategies that have been introduced for dealing with this problem, with others soon to be implemented as advanced technology is utilised. For example, the supermarket chain Tesco in the UK is rumoured to be teaming with an electronic receipts company to become the first UK supermarket to offer customers the option of having their receipt sent to their email address instead of being printed on receipt paper. However, this practice is unlikely to be implemented globally for at least the next few years due to software expenses and the need for testing consumer responses.
Currently, the most popular trend to help consumers deal with their abundance of store receipts is to use a smartphone app to take pictures of their receipts, which are then stored in the app’s memory library. This means that your receipts can be thrown away (or recycled if you are more environmentally conscious), and prevents any tax-time stress about sorting through a year’s worth of receipt.
Another benefit to these smartphone apps is that they preserve the receipt perfectly. For example, with receipts that are printed with inks there is always the danger that moisture will cause the ink to run and turn the writing illegible. And if the receipt is made of thermal paper and it comes in contact with a hot surface, the paper will turn black and all details could be lost.
As well as for tax purposes, capturing photographic proof of your purchases can be helpful if you need to return an item to a store. This is because most retailers have implemented the policy of a customer needing a receipt to return or exchange an item of clothing, in order to prevent any abuses of the system.
A few examples of these popular smartphone apps for preserving your receipts include:
- ACCCShopper - This app was developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and is free for users.
- Shoeboxed - This app can be used by American, Canadian and Australian residents, and is designed to be used by business owners, accountants, bookkeepers, freelancers and sales representatives.
- Xpenditure - The primary benefit of this app is that it enables you to digitise, manage and automate your expense reports through an online account.