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How To Organise And Maintain Your Tax Receipts

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Open your cutlery drawer: do the tablespoons come first, or do they come after the knives and forks? (Or should that be forks and knives?)

Organisation is a personal thing. What’s elegantly streamlined to one is unconscionably chaotic to another, but in the world of self-employment, there’s no room for inefficiency.

Organising and maintaining receipts for taxes, expenses, invoices, and business documentation is essential to the overall health of your business. Bad bookkeeping has put more companies out of business than we’d care to count.

So, if you’re struggling to find a way to organise and maintain your tax receipts efficiently, here are some industry insights to help you get a handle on your bookkeeping.

What tax receipts and records to do you need to keep?

Before we dive into how to organise your tax receipts, lets clarify which documents you actually need to keep:

  • Any information relating to sales and income.
  • A record of every business expense you intend to claim.
  • All VAT records, assuming you’re VAT registered.
  • PAYE records, assuming you have employees.
  • All personal income records.
  • Records relating to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), if you claimed this grant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HMRC recommends that you keep a record of all these documents for at least five years after your last Self Assessment submission. As an example, all documents submitted for your January 2024 Self Assessment should be retained until January 2029.

When you put it like that… that’s an awful lot of tax information that HMRC want you to keep hold of. So, what’s the best way or organising and maintaining so many important business documents?

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How to organise receipts and expenses

Let’s get to the meat and potatoes, then: how exactly do you go about organising your tax receipts and documentation?

Well, in truth, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer, but there are a series of sensible habits – and even legal frameworks – that you can work within to help make the experience easier.

Get into a routine

This one is the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to organising your business receipts. Whether you want to organise your documents by date, by client, by category, or even paper colour, the key is consistency.

The routine you adopt needs to work for you and your schedule. Maybe you’re the type that likes to knock out their bookkeeping at 9am to start the day on the right foot; maybe you like to save it for last, as the final chore before you wrap up and head for dinner.

If the prospect of sifting through business receipts every single day sounds like a new form of torture, consider blocking Monday mornings or Friday afternoons out in your calendar and do it once a week.

Whatever rhythm you choose, make sure you’re capable of sticking to it, because nothing spoils effective bookkeeping as quickly as inconsistency.

Keep digital copies

HMRC’s Making Tax Digital scheme means that it is a legal requirement to file certain taxes, and store certain records, digitally.

If you’re new to self-employment, it’s better to get into the habit of storing your receipts and filing your taxes digitally as soon as possible; if you’ve been around the block a few times and are in no rush to change your ways, you should start making the switch before the choice no longer remains.

If you’re not already signed up to online bookkeeping software, such as Crunch Free, we highly recommend getting your records online sooner rather than later.

Keep paper copies

The bookkeeping stereotype is defined by piles of dusty brown boxes and papers strewn across the floor. Simply cramming your receipts into the nearest drawer is convenient and cathartic, but it’ll come back to bite you come tax season.

If you decide to keep paper copies (it’s always better to have a back-up plan, after all), consider keeping your receipts in binders or folders. Categorise them by tax year, and then consider sub-dividing them into expenses, tax receipts, and invoices, for example.

You’ll have your own preferences on how to categorise them, but whichever you choose, make sure it passes the ‘fresh eyes’ test: if you gave that binder to a friend who’d never seen it before and asked them to locate a specific document, how quickly could they find it?

Apps and tools

To eradicate the tedium of manually inputting each line of your receipt, consider downloading a phone app like Crunch Snap. All you have to do is take a picture of your paper receipt, and the app will extrapolate the important information and file it straight into your Crunch account for safe keeping.

Not only does this speed up the process and save your hours of hassle, but it also means you can bookkeep on-the-go. As we’ve already covered, routine is everything when it comes to organising your business documents and tax receipts, so helpful shortcuts like receipt scanning can make a huge difference come January 31st.

Create back-ups

So, you’ve got your paper documents stored in binders categorised by tax year, and they’re all backed up in secure bookkeeping software like Crunch Free; you’re home and dry, right?

Well, in a perfect world, absolutely. But if you want to be super risk-adverse (or sensible, as others might say), you should consider creating one final digital back-up, either in the cloud or on an external hard drive or USB stick.

When it comes to your taxes, there’s no such thing as too many back-ups.

How Crunch can help you organise your tax receipts

If you’re in need of a digital storage solution, Crunch Free is the best place to start. 

Crunch Free is simple, honest, online accounting software at its finest. It’s the same powerful Crunch software enjoyed by our paying clients, but without the team of expert bookkeepers. It’s perfect for those who like to manage their own books and submit their own tax filings, but need a secure software solution to store and manage their documents.

If you’re looking to remove the stress of bookkeeping entirely, you can sign up to a Crunch accountancy package and let our team of expert accountants handle it for you! All you need to do is upload your documents to the software, and we’ll take care of the rest – including filing your Self Assessment.

For more information, head over to our Pricing page, or give one of our friendly experts a call for a free consultation.

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Ross Bramble
Content Executive
Updated on
December 4, 2023

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