Organising and storing tax receipts

June 15, 2005

Tax receipts must be kept, but the chances of ever needing to access them again are very low. This suggests a storage system that prioritises the speed of adding receipts over the speed of finding them. It should be simple and reliable in the long term tax receipt time frame. We currently track all expenditure in Quicken, so it will mostly be a process of cross-checking for the physical paper record when required.

When keeping tax receipts be sure to discard any non-tax receipts. One of the rules I was taught by NSW State Records was to keep only important information, otherwise it gets lost in the sea of unneeded archive data.

I’ve decided to use an expandable folder and place all receipts in there by date. Each slot will be for about 6 months worth of receipts, with one folder holding about 10 years. After that time, they are no longer required for tax purposes and we can remove older receipts and cycle through the folder slots again. The folder is quick to reference, easy to store receipts in, and the enclosed nature means it’s very unlikely to spill receipts out.

At Synop, we used a lever arch folder with a section for each person. Expense receipts were stuck onto loose leaf pages in your section. Stored in a public place, this made expenditure transparent and was a simple system for both staff and our book keeper. This system is a little slower for adding receipts, but that’s justified by the book keeper reading and the transparency benefits.

I’m undecided at this stage as to whether Bianca and I should have different yearly slots. We are already dividing the expenditure by person in Quicken, so it wouldn’t add new information to the system but might make access faster. I’m going to combine them for now, but will separate if we seem to be keeping a lot of receipts.