How Long Should You Keep Records
The length of time tax payers should keep a document for federal tax purposes depends on the action, expense, or event. Tax laws state that you must keep your records that support an item of taxable income, deduction or credit shown on your return until the period of limitations runs out.
The period of limitations is the time in which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or reimbursement. If you do not qualify for a refund, then the IRS can assess additional tax. The information below reflects the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise stated, the years refer to the period after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.
Are Bank Statements Sufficient For Tax Deductions
As you well know, tax season is rapidly approaching. If youre a full-time employee, a majority of your tax considerations will be handled by your employer. If youre a contractor or self-employed, your taxes may be a bit more involved and you might be wondering which deductions you qualify for. While deductions are a great way to save a little when it comes to tax time, its important to know which documents are and are not sufficient for tax deductions.
What qualifies as a deduction?
Many people frequently confuse tax credits and tax deductions. While both sound fairly similar, tax credits directly reduce the amount of taxes that you owe. Tax deductions, on the other hand, reduce your amount of taxable income this in turn lowers your overall tax liability when it comes time for you to file. Dont worry: even though deductions might not seem as exciting as tax credits, theyre just as useful for giving you a bit of extra help around tax season.
The standard deduction is the simpler of the two. While itemized deductions often require you to hold onto your receipts and do some careful bookkeeping, the standard deduction avoids calculations, receipts, and tax forms because its standardized. Though the easy way out might seem incredibly appealing, especially if you file your taxes yourself or with the help of an online program, opting for an itemized deduction could prove well worth the work as it can often yield greater rewards.
What Receipts To Keep For Taxes
As much as theyâd love to take your word for it, the IRS requires that you keep documentation that backs up the income, deductions, and credits you report on your tax return.
Here are the main types of records you should hang on to:
- Company health, safety, and any other regulatory documents
- Annual reports
Because the burden of proof is on you to back up every item on your tax return with documentation, the best approach to recordkeeping for small businesses is to try to keep as many records as you can.
Need some help with your bookkeeping and recordkeeping? Check out Bench. Weâll do your bookkeeping for you and our platform is a secure place where you can store all your records.
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Write Notes On Your Receipts
If you are reporting 1099 income and deducting job-related expenses, your receipts will need to include the amount, location, date, and type of expense. Lets say you met a potential vendor over a business lunch. To write off your meal expense, your receipt will need to show the name of the restaurant, the location, the date, who attended the meeting, the total paid, and a note to indicate that it was a business lunch to discuss vendor opportunities.
Make it a habit to note any important details directly on the receipt, then put the receipt where it belongs right away, so you dont miss any expenses when you file your taxes.
Estimating Your Income And Withholdings
If you don’t receive the appropriate form on time, you may use bank statements to estimate your taxes if your income was regularly deposited directly into your bank account. You can use IRS withholding tables, available on the IRS website, to calculate how much your employer withheld for income tax, Social Security and Medicare. If you are self-employed, it is almost certain that your clients withheld nothing from your pay. You must submit Form 4852 along with Form 1040 if you are missing Form W-2. You don’t have to submit your bank statements with your tax return, but you should keep them for your records.
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The Best Way To Organize Receipts And Records For Tax Time
Depending on your situation, you could have hundreds of documents and receipts to report for tax purposes. The IRS says you can use any record-keeping system you choose, as long as your income and expenses are clear, accurate, and include all necessary details.
Here are some basic ideas to help you keep your records straight, so theyre easy to locate if the IRS needs them.
Eight Steps To The Best Tax Refund
Rather than waiting for the end of the year to sort yourself out, now is the time to ensure you are doing everything you can to make sure that this time next year you have set yourself up to get the best return possible.
Here are my tips to make sure that in 2014 you’re able to make good on that promise to yourself to be more organised at tax time.
1. Eftpos/credit card your work-related expenses: the ATO now accepts credit card and bank statements as proof of a claim so if you are shocking at keeping receipts then make sure you use credit card or eftpos for your tax-deductible expenses.
2. Take a photo of your receipts: if you know you’ll forget to pull out your credit card or you simply prefer to pay cash then take out your phone each time you make a purchase that is claimable and take a photo of the receipt. To ensure those receipts aren’t accidentally deleted, save them into a folder on your computer called 2014 tax time. The ATO accept scanned receipts as proof of your deduction so you could even throw away the original.
3. Use an app: there are so many different smartphone applications designed to photograph or scan and store your receipts. Take a look, choose one that works for you and start using it. The best ones allow you to take a photo at purchase, throw the receipt away and it saves the photo in the cloud to the correct category instantly. Genius.
Melissa Browne is an accountant, adviser, author and shoe addict. Twitter: melbrowne_
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A Note About Expenses
The range of credit card expenses that qualify as tax deductible is wide. And just because a ream of paper counts to reduce your neighbors income, it does not mean you can make the same claim. What you deduct on your taxes depends on your filing status and other variables. If you own a business, for example, the ream of paper is likely to qualify as an office expense that reduces your taxable profit. However, if you print 500 wedding invitations as a favor to your sister, the paper cost does not affect your taxable income. It is valuable to consult an accountant for advice on your specific situation.
Tax Deductions You May Be Able To Claim At Tax Time
Here are some common work-related and income-generating expenses that you may be able to claim at tax time.
Its soon time to lodge your tax return, so you should start thinking about any work-related and income-generating expenses you paid over the financial year.
You may be able to claim some expenses as tax deductions to reduce your taxable income.
In general, to identify expenses that may be acceptable as tax deductions, you should consider:
- Was the expense directly related to your work or income-generating activity?
- Did you spend the money, and you werent reimbursed by your employer?
- Do you have an official record of the expense e.g. receipt or bank statement?
If the expense was for both work and personal use , you need to determine the portion of the expense related to your work or income-generating activity.
Here are 8 tax deductions you may be able to claim at tax time:
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One Exception: Cash Purchases Of Over $75
Even cash purchases donât need receipts, as long as theyâre âreasonable and ordinary.â
We call this principle the âCohan rule,â established in the famous Cohan vs. Commissioner Circuit Court of Appeals case.
Rule of thumb: Keep your receipt if you spent more than $75 in cash.
If you took a dozen clients out for lunch at the best steakhouse in town and then paid with cash, you should probably hold onto that receipt.
Why You Should Keep The Statements
Access to a record of your recent purchases, bill payments, and payroll deposits is necessary for a number of reasons, not least as a proof of payment in case of a dispute.
You should review your bank account activity regularly for evidence of identity theft and debit card fraud. The statements provide verification of illicit activity and are used to recover any damages.
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Can You Use Credit Card Statements As Receipts For Taxes
Soo has over 10 years of experience in publicly traded companies and public accounting firms offering tax, accounting, payroll and advisory services to clients in diversified industries including manufacturing, wholesale/retail businesses, construction, real estate development and investment, banking, finance and professional/legal consulting service. In Particular, when Soo was at Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Soo worked with many foreign owned U.S. companies and advised clients on a broad range of issues including federal and state tax minimization especially through R& D tax credit, determination of the optimal structure for new foreign investments, restructuring and reorganization for existing operations.
When filing your return, you arenât required to submit any receipts or paperwork to prove your tax deductions. You’ll have to prove expenses reported on your return if you receive an Internal Revenue Service tax audit notice. You may be wondering, “Can you use credit card statements as receipts for taxes?” It is always better to be able to show all your bookkeeping details to the IRS auditor. They require any form of acceptable proof such as receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, cancelled checks, bills or invoices from suppliers and service providers.
Without the appropriate documentation, the IRS wonât allow your deductions. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Scan and store all documentations to keep digital copies for your bookkeeping records.
Clothing Laundry And Dry
If you bought occupation-specific clothing, protective clothing or work uniforms specifically related to your job, you may be able to claim these costs, as well as related cleaning costs, as work-related expenses.
However, youre unlikely to be able to claim costs for conventional clothing or non-compulsory work uniforms.
To claim these costs as tax deductions, you need to have written evidence of these costs, such as diary entries and receipts.
You can find out more about clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning expenses you can claim at the ATO website.
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What Financial Documents Should You Keep Forever
Weve looked at documents that are okay to throw away after a specific time, but there are plenty of documents you should hold on to indefinitely. Important papers to save forever include:
- Birth certificates
- Inheritance documents
- Beneficiary forms
For anything youve bought or insured, you should save the related documents for at least as long as you own them or until the warranty ends. It wont hurt to keep them around longer, though, just to be safe. This includes titles, deeds, insurance policies, warranty documentation and more.
Health insurance policies and related documents are important to keep long term, too. So long as your health insurance is active, you should keep these records. If your coverage ended or youve moved to another insurance company, go ahead and toss paperwork once youre sure you wont need it. The same is true if you receive disability or unemployment benefits. Keep the documentation until you know you no longer need it.
If you have financial records or documents you arent sure youll need, err on the side of caution. Keep any documents until you are positive you dont need them.
How Much Can I Claim With No Receipts
The ATO generally says that if you have no receipts at all, but you did buy work-related items, then you can claim them up to a maximum value of $300.
Chances are, you are eligible to claim more than $300. This could boost your tax refund considerably. However, with no receipts, its your word against theirs. The ATO says, no proof, no claim, so keep your receipts year-round. Otherwise youre sort of stuck below that $300 limit.
Even if you only claim below $300, you should be ready to explain what it was, how you paid for it, and how it is related to your work.
Claiming deductions without a receipt can be a tricky part of doing your tax return and it is certainly not recommended. Often this means you lose out on tax deductions, or even cause some ATO trouble for yourself.
Its both easy and important to keep your receipts throughout the year so you never miss out at tax time this will save you money.
Receipts is an easy problem to fix. Heres how.
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Can I Claim On Expenses Without Receipts
While its always best to hold on to any receipt, you may still be able to claim on tax-deductible expenses if you dont have one. You just need to be able to satisfy a tax inspector by showing that you did make the purchase.
So, record the details around it what was bought, who from, and the amount it cost. If you still have the item, then its tangible existence will help prove its legitimacy as a claim.
Even if theres been no record, then you might still be able to meet HMRCs requirements, provided you made a sensible estimate of how much was spent.
What Receipts Should I Keep For My Taxes
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Taxes arent fun for anyone, all that paperwork can make you go crazy! Whats worse is, after you sift through all the paperwork, you may have to pay a large tax bill. In order to avoid hefty taxes, it is helpful to be aware of the tax credits and other tax benefits available to Canadian consumers, regardless of whether you do your own taxes or work with an accountant. You can bring your tax bill down substantially by keeping receipts for the purpose of claiming tax credits when tax season comes around.
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Tax Receipts Rule Irs Keeps Quiet: They’re Optional
Receipts are critical to good book-keeping and tax returns. But if you cant find one, contrary to popular belief, you are not out of luck. Remember the Cohan Rule, from a still good today tax case called Cohan v. Commissioner. George M. Cohan was a Broadway pioneer with hits like Give My Regards to Broadway and Yankee Doodle Boy. His statue still commands Times Square if you look amid all the hubbub.
In the 1920s, the IRS disallowed Cohans travel and entertainment expenses for lack of receipts. He was a flashy guy and tended to pay in cash. And he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. So when the IRS denied all his deductions, he took the IRS to court. Receipts being the stock in trade of the tax system, the trial court upheld the IRS. Again, Mr. Cohan wouldn’t take no for an answer and appealed to the Second Circuit.
In 1930, the Appeals Court rocked the IRS back on its heels with the Cohan Rule. To this day, it is as an exception to stringent IRS record-keeping requirements. It allows taxpayers to prove by other credible evidence they actually incurred deductible expenses. Mr. Cohan testified that he paid in cash, and others too remembered big dinners. Of course, this is a tough way to prove expenses. Not surprisingly, the Cohan Rule often doesnt impress the IRS.
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Donations Pension Contributions And Seis/eis Investments
- Donations: the amount, date, and charity of donation either in document form or a spreadsheet
- Pension contributions: spreadsheet or other documents that show them
- SEIS/EIS investments: your SEIS3/EIS3 certificates or your share certificates. Check out our guides on how to claim your SEIS and how to claim your EIS.
This sounds like a long list of tax return documents.
However, in most cases, a simple spreadsheet of your income, expenses, or even a bank statement might be sufficient.
Ask our support team if they can help.
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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.