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Requiring original receipts still make sense in modern-day T&E reporting?

original receipts for expense reimbursement policiesWe are looking at eliminating the requirement of obtaining all original receipts.  We currently require original receipts and scan these into our systems.  Has anyone had any issues in having employees scan these and send in for processing?   I worry more about the forging of receipts (as an old auditor).  Has anyone had any experience in this? 


Lee Qiu
Title: Internal Audit
Company: Charter School Network
(Internal Audit, Charter School Network) |

one issue could be that a receipt can be scanned and submitted twice, if original receipts are no longer required to be given to the company.

it's a bit surprising, but happen quite often in my experience, especially for those who travel very often and / or not good at organizing...

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

We use Expensify which allows for scanned receipts. We have no issue with usability either from users or my staff. However, it does require oversight as Lee notes above. We do "sight checks" on all T&E for reasonableness and we will do sampling of random transactions, taking a closer look and matching fares/costs. If someone is going to the trouble to forge receipts, they will have the forgery, so i don't know how that will help you. However, having a system where their manager has to approve everything on its way to accounting will help b/c their manager will know where they have been traveling/what they have needed to buy for the company.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Whether scanned or paper, processes can always be improved and result in holding down T&E.

Here's a free whitepaper here at Proformative on that topic:

"T&E Expense Management Guide: A Solution Selection Guide"

I like this whitepaper because it has some really clear thinking about process improvement.

Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
Sunil Thukral
Title: Controller/Technical Accounting Advisory..
Company: Consultant
(Controller/Technical Accounting Advisory/ SEC Reporting, Consultant) |

I agree with Lee and Bryan's comments. I will add my two cents here....we are living a new world here, where most of the actual receipts will be in fact be mere printouts from the computer. For example, you have electronic air tickets (even for international travel), hotel bills are also printed on plain piece of paper, etc. This will be the majority of the travel expense. Hence, in such a situation there is no sense in actually collecting the original receipts as it will be the same as the scanned copies printed out.

For meals, taxi and other miscellaneous items, the company can have a policy to allow for a fixed amount per day, etc.

With the above approach, the company can in fact reimburse the amounts without actually collecting the original receipts.

I do agree the manager still has to have an oversight over the reasonability of the expense to deter any fraud and approve all the expenses.


CV Sudarshan
Title: Manager
Company: Independent
(Manager, Independent) |


'The fear of getting caught is the best safeguard against fraud'

We provide a SaaS based T&E expense management application ( with built-in policy enforcement and monitoring that is setup per company’s needs. Our clients establish spending-policies within the system and then communicate it clearly to the employees. They find this to be the best way to deter fraud – with or without receipts. For example, if the lunch was >$50, the application requires the user to provide an explanation which is highlighted to the stakeholders for review.

As Bryan mentions, having more than one set of eyes review the expense report, even casually, helps. Our clients typically setup the system to require the manager's (and higher levels in some cases) electronic approval before the report is sent to Accounting. Again, this is a powerful deterrent against fraud.

We have also seen cases where, sometime there are honest mistakes - like Lee mentions, where a user can submit a receipt twice. Our mobile apps work in Offline mode, so that users can create transactions with electronic receipts immediately after incurred, instead of waiting till the end of the day with a wad of receipts, which is when these errors typically occur.

Focusing on techniques to deter fraud coupled with well-planned policies would be more effective than simply collecting receipts, because as you mention, receipts can be forged/manipulated.

Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

Given that there are always expenses that cannot provide receipts, for example coin operated vending machines and busses, tolls, tips etc and we allow these although they tend to be the smaller items. I think this is the key, setting a policy that requires an effort be made to submit an actual receipt for reimbursed expenses over a cut-off level, and not bothering below that point. The cost of processing a wad of small receipts under $10 by both claimant, manager, and accounting reviewer will likely be as much as any exposure to over/double claiming!

On a related point, expense reporting can be tedious and messy, and employees may not be conscientious about matching and extracting data from receipts, and not having great concerm if there are errors, especially in their favor. After dealing with sloppy reporting we introduced a certification statement on the expense claim asking tham to certify that they had reviewed all expenses, checked the accuracy and reasonableness of the claim, and confirm that they had all been necessairy incurred for the benefit of the Company (a low key version of the statement at the bottom of your tax return!)

We found this had employees thinking a little more before they submitted exenses and made it more embarrassing for them if errors were subsequently discovered.

Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

I like the statement that Simon appends to the reports and scanned receipts are the norm particularly with smart phones becoming the input device.


Andy Wong
Title: VP Finance & Accounting
Company: C2 Educational Systems, Inc.
(VP Finance & Accounting, C2 Educational Systems, Inc.) |

While it's true that in today's day and age when so much is electronic/web based ticketing and receipts, it is often difficult to tell a copy from an original. However, I would suggest still requiring an original receipt as a deterrent to fraud or error (submitting a recipt more than once) and helping to provide an incentive to folks to make an effort to keep track of their spending. I would not rely on the manager review and approval processs as more often than not, I see our company managers simply signing/approving without even looking at the detail submitted. In fact, despite numerous notices that it is not acceptable, our company execs such as the CEO and COO prefer to use their own credit cards to accumulate points, and use a copy of their credit card statement as their receipt providing little detail on what was spent...a far cry from an original receipt.

In summary, I would recommend continuing to require it, but use common sense when deciding to challenge the submission and of course, random audit to catch issues.


Gregory Schaub
Title: Controller
Company: Unemployed
(Controller, Unemployed) |

I have used electronic T&E reporting twice. Once Expensify and more recently NetSuite. Both allow for the import and attachment of files to support as documentation of the expenses. As in any electronic system the implementation and training really determines whether in a large part the usefulness of the system.
Having operational mangers be the first line of approvals does help to ensure the expense was proper to be incurred but not its authenticity. With any T&E system manual or electronic there will be those that abuse it intentionally and unintentionally. Implementing some random reviews and crosschecks helps to catch some errors.


david waltz
Title: Assistant Treasurer
Company: Integrys Energy Group
(Assistant Treasurer, Integrys Energy Group) |

Some expenses can end up becoming income to the employee if not properly justified, explained, and documented, so for the employee's own protection getting reciepts that comply with IRS regulations is important as well.

(CFO) |

Per diem I say. It is the most effective control and takes the least amount of effort.

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

Original receipts can be forged (hey we once found a check which was modified and the bank didn't catch it).

You can't rely on technology 100% of the time, so you need to look at the documentation, the budget, prior spending and ask questions.


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