What does your receipt system look like? As you’re considering a more efficient method, you may be wondering if pictures are okay for tax purposes. 

While pictures are allowed, you need to meet HMRC’s requirements to make sure your records are suitable. Learn how you can improve your receipt and expenses system using your smartphone’s camera all while making your financial records more accurate in this article. Find out:

  • Are pictures of receipts okay to use for tax records?
  • Why it’s important to have an organised and accurate system
  • What other receipt systems are there?
  • How can you record other expenses and income too?
  • Take your accounting on the go with Countingup

Whether you’re a sole trader or limited company director, running your accounts accurately and efficiently can help you find the edge you need to make your business a success. Learn more about modern bookkeeping and accounting methods available to you for free below.

Are pictures of receipts okay to use for tax records?

HMRC requires sole traders to keep records of their trading of each financial year for a minimum of 5 years. This goes up to 6 years if you run a limited company. With so many transactions, managing your business’ paperwork can become challenging.

Luckily, HMRC allows businesses to use digital record-keeping methods – so yes, pictures are okay to use for tax records. However, this comes with a few conditions: digital records like pictures on your smartphone or cloud storage account need to be: 

  • Complete: all of the information needs to be captured so nothing’s missing
  • Accurate: the information needs to be exactly as it shows on the physical copy
  • Readable: the digital copy needs to be clear and easily viewable by HMRC if requested

This means that you still need to take care when taking pictures of your receipts as cameras can still take less-than-perfect copies.

In particular, you might end up with poor copies if you rush while taking them or try to fit too many into one picture. This may happen because you need to place your smartphone further away from your receipts (in order to fit everything in frame) or don’t steady your hand as you press the capture button.

Why it’s important to have an organised and accurate system

Beyond sticking to HMRC’s rules for small businesses, an organised and accurate accounting system can help you unlock productivity and opportunities for your business that you may otherwise miss.

Without keeping on top of your finances, your future strategy might miss developing sales avenues, market trends, or losses in revenue that you need to be aware of to save money and be successful.

What other receipt record systems are there?

If you’re considering new record-keeping methods, it’s important to remember you’ve got options. As you’re searching, ask how much time and effort you can save – not just how different it is from your current system.

Taking the time to learn a more efficient method will be worth it long-term for you and your business.

‘Shoebox’ method

A new business over classic: everything lumped together in one pile but not necessarily organised. 

While this method might be the easiest and cheapest as you start out, sorting through receipt backlogs and logging data to tally your expense totals takes time away from actually growing your business.

Similarly, this method gets more untenable as you get busier because it’s so inefficient at scale.

Taking pictures

Picture copies are fine (as long as they meet the requirements above), but they don’t actually do anything for your business beyond functioning as a record. New business owners still need to copy receipt data into a spreadsheet and add everything up to manage their finances – draining your time almost as much. 

How can you record your expenses accurately while understanding your business’ trading performance at the same time?

Digital accounting software

Modern accounting software is available to small business owners to help them hasten their financial admin and help meet the challenges of accounting even easier. 

Using your phone, apps like Countingup make the ‘picture’ process of logging receipt data a more meaningful step; recording your expense transactions and scanning the data to work out your taxes and net profits in one go.

How can you record other expenses and income too?

As you’re growing your business, you’ll find receipts are only one part of your trading paperwork: you’ll quickly run into the problem of needing a more comprehensive system for logging invoices and other sources of expenses too. 

The shoebox system won’t work with online expenses without giving you more paperwork and you’ll still lose out on time from taking pictures repetitively.

Even if you manage to find a good system for your receipts, does it cover the rest of your business’ needs?

Capture and store receipts on the go with Countingup

The best way to keep your receipts organised is to use a system that’s tailored to your specific needs.  Countingup’s unique two-in-one business account and accounting software makes it easy to manage and store your receipts.

The app has a handy receipt capturing tool that allows you to scan the receipts into the system by photographing it with your phone. 

Countingup also automatically sorts your expenses into HMRC-approved categories to help you stay organised with minimal effort. Additional features like cash flow reports, tax estimates, and other insights help improve your understanding of your business’ financial health.

Gain complete confidence in your business’ needs and save admin time back. Find out more here and sign up for free today.