Must I Have a Receipt for All Deductions?
When preparing taxes, you naturally want to take every allowable deduction. For example, some of these deductions may be unreimbursed business expenses. Because you do not turn in any receipts with your tax return, you don’t need receipts to claim the deductions when you file. However, if the Internal Revenue Service has a question about a deduction, you may be asked to supply documentation to support your deduction claim, which is why many taxpayers choose to keep receipts.
Receipts You Need
If you deduct meals and travel, you need receipts with the name of the establishment you visited, the date you were there and the amount you spent. A cancelled check cannot serve as evidence of a business expenditure by itself. You must have additional documentation to prove it was a business expense or an expense you incurred as part of your employment. A bill for a service or product can serve as proof of an expense. You should also be prepared to provide an invoice or receipt showing the cost basis of items such as stocks, bonds, real estate and equipment that you depreciate. Depreciation takes into consideration the loss in value of the equipment over a period of time.
You may present electronic records to support your claims for expenses. This can include images of cancelled checks, as well as scans of receipts, invoices and bills. You do not need the original receipts if you can provide a clear scan. You may also create a record of expenses on a computer. The IRS will accept your accounting records that are entered on a computer instead of in accounting books.
Receipts You Don’t Need
You do not have to provide a receipt for money you put into a health savings account. If you claim deductions on Schedule C for a business, you can deduct your health insurance premiums without providing a receipt. You can deduct interest you pay on student loans without documentation, and take off moving expenses for relocating due to a job. You won’t have to provide receipts for these expenses. If you use your car for business purposes as well as personal trips, you must divide your business miles by the total miles you drove in the year to get your business use percentage. Multiply that percentage by each of your vehicle expenses so you know how much you can deduct on your taxes. Finally, you won't need receipts from any institution that already files information with the IRS, such as a college or university.
Although income is not a deduction, you should keep records of payments you receive from income sources. These records can support your claim for any deductions that are associated with that income. For example, if you deduct craft supplies for a product you make and sell, it's wise to document your income from selling that product so that your expenses can be classified as a business expense.
Kevin Johnston writes for Ameriprise Financial, the Rutgers University MBA Program and Evan Carmichael. He has written about business, marketing, finance, sales and investing for publications such as "The New York Daily News," "Business Age" and "Nation's Business." He is an instructional designer with credits for companies such as ADP, Standard and Poor's and Bank of America.