Original Receipts 

I am a member of an organization whose Finance Committee has been advised to require "original receipts" for all reimbursement requests (and also for "gifts in kind"! But I'll get to that second bit of nonsense later).

Now it should be obvious that the idea is made ridiculous by the fact that most vendors will happily print out a second copy of the "original" receipt if requested (and that these flimsy items typically fade to invisibility within just a few months anyhow!), but for a bit more authoritative response I tried a Google Search.  And what did I find?

Original Receipts For Expense Reimbursement Policies

www.proformative.com/.../original-receipts-for-expense-reimbursement-...

We are looking at eliminating the requirement of obtaining all original receipts. We currently require original receipts and scan these into our systems.

to which a typical response was "we are living a new world here, where most of the actual receipts will be in fact be mere printouts from the computer. For example, you have electronic air tickets (even for international travel), hotel bills are also printed on plain piece of paper, etc. This will be the majority of the travel expense. Hence, in such a situation there is no sense in actually collecting the original receipts as it will be the same as the scanned copies printed out."

Why Asking for Receipts Is Old School…. - Oversight Systems

https://www.oversightsystems.com/.../why-asking-for-physical-receipts-is...

Nov 25, 2014 - Original expense receipt requirements are an old school approach to expense control. In fact, I saw a recent list of the top five reasons why ...

Does the IRS accept scanned receipts for tax write-offs ...

www.entrepreneur.com/answer/222221

Dec 22, 2010 - The rule that supports scanned receipts is called Revenue Proclamation 97-22. The rule states that scanned receipts are acceptable as long as they are identical to the originals and contain all of the accurate information that are included in the original receipts.

But when it comes to the taxman we certainly do need to obey the rules!

Can You Shred Scanned Receipts?

www.bookkeeping-essentials.com › Recordkeeping Systems

Learn CRA's and IRS's policies about accepting scanned receipts in place of originalsource documents ... they are different!

Photocopies/Scans of expense receipts | AccountingWEB

www.accountingweb.co.uk › Any Answers

Of course, original receipts (whatever that means) are necessary where required by law - and in such cases it doesn't matter that the requirement is stupid. But in situations where the use is just for record keeping (and especially if the scale of he enterprise is small enough that duplicate submissions would be easily identifiable) they are completely unnecessary. And it is certainly clear that their requirement is by no means a universal or even "standard" accounting practic.
Two personal experiences contribute to my disdain for the idea that "original receipts" are in any way useful. One, from my professional life, involves a compulsive thief and liar who produced a cleverly forged "original receipt" to cover up a theft which was only discovered and proved by other means (after which a more careful examination did identify physical evidence of he forgery). And another from volunteer work in which "original receipts" were provided for items which were similar to, but of higher value than, those made available to the organization (and again, it was only after the fraud had been identified via a larger pattern of suspicious behaviour that the differences in model number were noted).

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