What is a 'Receipt'

A receipt is a written acknowledgment that something of value has been transferred from one party to another. In addition to the receipts consumers typically receive from vendors and service providers, receipts are also issued in business-to-business dealings, as well as stock market transactions. For example, the holder of a futures contract is generally given a delivery instrument, which acts as a receipt, in that it can be exchanged for the underlying asset when the futures contract expires.


In addition to showing ownership, receipts can also be important for other reasons. For instance, many retailers insist that a customer have a receipt to exchange or return items purchased from them, while others demand that a receipt — generally issued within a certain timeframe — be produced for product warranty purposes. Receipts can also be important for tax purposes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) suggests the following types of receipts, if generated, be retained by small businesses: receipt books, cash register tape receipts and credit card receipts for both sales and purchases. The IRS does not require documentation for a single expense of less than $75, though many businesses will keep receipts of small amounts anyway.

Paper receipts are on the decline in use in the digital age. Email receipts for bank transactions or purchases are very common these days. However, for those who still get paper receipts technology such as desktop scanners and mobile phone apps are available to archive and organize these receipts, and this technology facilitates the production of expense reports through extraction of data and integration with bookkeeping software.

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