I want to ask if scans of receipts are acceptable as proof for the IRS. I’ve got receipts that are only one year old and they are already unable to be read due to fading. If we are somehow able to scan the receipt and save a digital copy of the information, do we still need the physical receipt?
It doesn’t get a lot of press but the IRS has accepted scanned receipts since 1997. The applicable rule is Rev. Proc. 97–22 and it basically mandates that your scanned or electronic receipts must be as accurate as your paper records. Additionally, you must be able to index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce the records. In other words, you need to have your records organized and be able to produce them in a hard copy form if needed.
So long as you have faith that your electronic system is sufficient, there’s no reason to keep your physical receipts. It’s worth noting that the integrity of the system is on you, and the failure of the system is not a valid excuse for not having accurate records. So choose a system that you trust – and make sure that it works!
Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.