30 September 2020

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Who hasn’t been faced with boxes, drawers, dashboards and folders overflowing with expense receipts? Hard to file, hold on to or organise, they’re often misplaced, lost or simply thrown away.

But if your business has lots of employees on-the-road, or regularly travelling (especially overseas), a receipt stockpile can quickly become a paper mountain. This can lead to processing delays and stress for staff, and uncertain cash flow demands for expense claims.

Receipt-led backlogs soon become time-sapping for finance teams who are tasked with recording, filing, analysing and reporting spend. 

Some industries are harder hit than others. Construction workers in particular are prone to becoming overwhelmed. Our studies show that over half (51%) of them say that keeping and processing receipts is their single biggest expense frustration.

Move with the times

With digital transformation a strategic priority for most businesses, ‘going paperless’ is a major administrative and environmental goal. So, why are we still drowning in receipts?  

In the past, businesses were legally required to collect and store physical paper copies of customer receipts for staff expenses. However, the Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative, is changing this. Today, VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above £85k must submit VAT returns online. From 2021 this will extend to income and corporation tax. In line with MTD, the digital capture and storage of invoices and receipts now satisfies HMRC tax and VAT requirements (with a few exceptions).

Rather than holding onto a receipt, attaching it to a report and sending it back to the office, you can now submit expenses from anywhere – a coffee shop or an airport - using your mobile phone to capture all the information you need from your receipt. Digital files can be uploaded instantly to your expense application in real time, ensuring that each and every spend item is tracked, referenced and stored and that your business accounts and cash flow projections are up to date.

Six benefits of paperless receipts:

  1. Productivity: Reduced admin time leaves you more time to spend on client or revenue generating activity. 
  2. Accuracy: No re-keying of data, or lost receipts, simply scan or click and go – all the information is immediately uploaded to the system.
  3. Speed: Removing the physical process of reviewing receipts and approvals, means you can reduce delays in reimbursement and reporting. 
  4. Visibility: With an integrated expense management system to handle your digital receipts you can see at a glance exactly what’s being spent, where and by who.
  5. Compliance: Not only are claims transparent, there’s an easy digital paper trail to be followed.
  6. Wellbeing: Removes admin burden and stress and stops expense claims eating into work time.

All the above is being made possible with modern integrated payment and expense management systems, such as Allstar’s Visa Expense Card plus IntelliLink Expense Management. Combining expense and fuel payment with a mobile app for data capture and software, it facilitates fast and accurate processing and reporting. It also simplifies digital approvals and enables pre-spend controls to be set to minimise risk of out of policy spend.

Important points to remember when capturing digital receipts: 

  • Capture info on both sides of the receipt. 
  • Make sure you can read the copy before you ditch the original.
  • Ensure you have a back-up system - just in case.
  • Maintain historic expense records for 6 years to ensure compliance – important when switching data storage or IT solutions providers.
  • Check with the HMRC first, to clarify which original records to retain.

Discover more ways to streamline your expense process with our new report: ‘Why expenses don’t have to hold you back.’ 

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