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Electronic Receipts

electronic receipts best practicesCurious does anyone have any updated guidance on electronic receipts. We implemented AMEX's full suite of tools and I would like to eliminate all receipts, including attaching those over $25. I understand that the IRS is becoming more friendly about using online embedded receipt details since they are becoming more detailed. Would love any insights! What has worked for you? Have you been able to translate it successfully to your auditors? Thanks! BM


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Brenda -

By receipts, are you talking about an attachment, paper or just a separate e-mail?

As for embedded, are you speaking of an e-mail showing sold from/to, items, qty, cost, tax, shipping, FIN, etc. in addition to other up-sell/x-sell/customer service type verbiage?

If so (embedded) haven't you essentially provided all information that would be on a traditional receipt?

Topic Expert
Brenda Morris
Title: Board of Directors, Audit Committee Chai..
Company: Boot Barn
(Board of Directors, Audit Committee Chair, Boot Barn) |

Thanks Wayne for the clarification! I mean the receipt details that show on the electronic AMEX statements. In our "new" environment we have all expenses going to people's corporate AMEX cards when they travel, then those are in the AMEX online reconciliation tool, which includes all the receipts details - merchant name, amount, general expense information. Our travelers can add notes such as "dinner with CMO and PR firm" to add more color for their managers when they approve the monthly statement. I have been requiring people attach a picture/scan of the actual receipt - but think that is redundant to the details on the statement - and want to eliminate it. BUT I am curious if anyone is doing this and if they have been challenged at all by the IRS or their audit firms....

Angela Nehring
Title: Director of internal audit
Company: IRET
(Director of internal audit, IRET) |

We use Wells Fargo and their reconciliation tool shows all of the same details as your system. However, we still require our employees to scan every receipt over $10. Even though they can input a description, we want to be able to see everything they purchased to ensure compliance with our purchasing/travel & entertainment policy.

Topic Expert
Edward Abbati
Title: Vice President of Finance
Company: Location Labs
LinkedIn Profile
(Vice President of Finance, Location Labs) |

I just went through this exercise and credit card statements are not a valid receipt source

“The reason why you keep a legible receipt is that if you are in an audit, the IRS will NOT accept the line on a credit card statement showing a store purchase. They need the original receipt or a readable copy. If you don’t have the receipt, the auditor can say that you purchased school supplies for your kids and not believe you purchased office supplies for your business. The deduction would be denied.”

From the IRS Publication 463
“Documentary evidence. You generally must have documentary evidence, such as receipts, canceled checks, or bills, to support your expenses.

Documentary evidence ordinarily will be considered adequate if it shows the amount, date, place, and essential character of the expense.
For example, a hotel receipt is enough to support expenses for business travel if it has all of the following information.
• The name and location of the hotel.
• The dates you stayed there.
• Separate amounts for charges such as lodging, meals, and telephone calls.
A restaurant receipt is enough to prove an expense for a business meal if it has all of the following information.
• The name and location of the restaurant.
• The number of people served.
• The date and amount of the expense.
If a charge is made for items other than food and beverages, the receipt must show that this is the case.
Canceled check. A canceled check, together with a bill from the payee, ordinarily establishes the cost. However, a canceled check by itself does not prove a business expense without other evidence to show that it was for a business purpose. “

Topic Expert
Nicole Lucarelli
Title: Director
Company: Financial Services
LinkedIn Profile
(Director, Financial Services) |

There are some additional options with electronic receipts, via a corp card. I've seen where airline receipts are not needed because AMEX provides the ticket number and additional 3rd level detail in their feed (ie into Concur Expense reporting). Other vendors provide electronic copies of their receipts as well. Hotels usually need the detailed breakout of the bill, to determine the makeup of the charges. See this from the IRS for more examples:

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |


Going slightly off topic.................

How do you control the AMEX Membership Rewards?

I got us into the AMEX corporate rewards program under the assumption of 1/2% cash back only to have that not be the case. I was astounded and befuddled when I saw that the AMEX tools would allow each cardholder to "manage" their account and that included their own access to the rewards points. For that reason, I only set up one card and we retain control of that in our AP department.

As I've heard of other agency's using this program, I know there must be some way to ensure that all rewards earned remain within the agency's control. But AMEX has not been useful in my search for answers.

Vik Agrawal
Title: President & Co-Founder
Company: ExpensePath, Inc.
(President & Co-Founder, ExpensePath, Inc.) |

You need to have the receipt, not the credit card statement, for audit purposes for anything over $75. Most companies set the receipt requirement below that ($25 is pretty standard) as a precaution against employee fraud in the expense reporting process.

Scans/digital images are OK so you don't need the original paper receipt. My understanding is that the IRS has not explicitly stated this (unless they have recently) but that auditors have guided their clients in the US that scans are perfectly acceptable. So our clients (we provide an online/mobile expense reporting solution) go paperless and store all receipt images in our system or download the PDFs from our system to their own backup system.

Sounds like you might have to reverse your process and not archive the credit card statement if you want to eliminate the duplication.


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