In this article
You might like
No items found.
Spending made smarter
Easy-to-use cards, spend limits, approval flows, vendor payments —plus an average savings of 5%.1
4.8 Rating 4.8 rating
Error Message
No personal credit checks or founder guarantee.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get fresh finance insights, monthly
Time and money-saving tips,
straight to your inbox
4.8 Rating 4.8 rating
Thanks for signing up
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Table of contents

Maintaining accurate and compliant financial records is essential for any business. One of the key elements in this process is the management of proof of purchase receipts, which serve as crucial evidence for tax purposes, expense reimbursement, and overall financial management. 

In this article, we'll explore what constitutes proof of purchase, why it's so vital, and how to properly manage these records to ensure your business remains compliant and financially healthy.

What is proof of purchase?

At its core, proof of purchase is a document that serves as tangible evidence of a commercial transaction, typically provided by the retailer or reseller to the buyer. This can take the form of a paper printout, a digital file, or even a mobile app record—the key is that it provides verifiable documentation of the goods or services you've purchased for your business.

Proof of purchase can come in various formats, including printed sales receipts, e-receipts, digital invoices, credit card statements, and voucher copies. Each serves as a valid record depending on the context and requirements of the financial transaction.

The most common type of proof of purchase is the standard receipt. Receipts typically include essential details such as the transaction date, the retailer’s details, item description, purchase price, sales receipt number, and payment method. For durable goods, it may also list the serial number and warranty information.

The importance of purchase receipts in business

Purchase receipts are essential for businesses of all sizes as they substantiate expenditures and are necessary for warranty claims, rebates, and tax deductions. They also serve as a safeguard against fraudulent claims and help in tracking the purchase price for budgeting and forecasting.

Here are other reasons why these receipts are so vital:

Tax compliance

When it comes to filing business taxes, the IRS and other tax authorities require careful documentation of all claimed deductions and expenses. Without valid proof of purchase, you risk having these deductions disallowed, potentially leading to fines, penalties, and a drawn-out audit process.

Expense reimbursement

If you have employees who incur business-related expenses, such as travel, meals, or supplies, you'll need their receipts to reimburse them properly. These records not only ensure fair and transparent reimbursement but also help you maintain accurate financial records.

Financial management

Proof of purchase records are essential for tracking your business's spending patterns, identifying areas for cost savings, and making informed financial decisions. Without these records, it becomes significantly more challenging to manage your cash flow, budget effectively, and identify potential areas of overspending.

Dispute resolution

Should a vendor or customer dispute a transaction, your proof of purchase records can serve as vital evidence to resolve the issue. These documents can help protect your business from fraudulent claims or billing errors.

Business valuation

If you ever decide to sell your business, potential buyers will want to see a comprehensive paper trail of your expenses and financial history. Well-organized proof of purchase records can greatly enhance the perceived value of your company.

What information is on a purchase receipt?

While the specific requirements may vary depending on your location and industry, a standard proof of purchase receipt should include the following key elements:

  • Date of purchase: This is the date the transaction took place, which is important for tracking business expenses and maintaining accurate records.
  • Vendor information: The name, address, and contact details of the business or individual you purchased from.
  • Service or item description: A detailed description of the goods or services you acquired, including quantities and unit prices.
  • Total amount paid: The grand total of the transaction, including any applicable taxes or fees.
  • Payment method: The method used to complete the purchase, such as cash, credit card, or electronic transfer.
  • Transaction number: A unique identifier, such as an invoice or receipt number, that can be used to cross-reference the purchase in your financial records.

Exceptions and special cases in which proof of purchase is required

Proof of purchase is often required in scenarios such as claiming travel expenses, processing rebates, or when the original receipt is lost, where a credit card statement or confirmation email may suffice. While managing business expenses typically involves a customary proof of purchase process, there are some special circumstances where the standard rules are adjusted to accommodate specific needs.

Mileage claims

For employees who drive their personal vehicles for work-related activities, mileage claims are a common exception. Instead of a standard receipt, they need to provide details such as the purpose of the trip, starting and ending locations, total distance traveled, and sometimes even the vehicle’s make, model, and registration.

Daily allowances

When employees travel for business, they may receive a daily allowance or per diem to cover incidental expenses like meals or lodging. These fixed sums are usually predetermined based on the travel destination and duration, and they generally don’t require receipts or detailed proof of purchase.

Accommodation expenses

Employees seeking reimbursement for lodging expenses should ensure the receipt includes the length of stay, room type, and any add-on charges beyond the base room rate. Companies often have their own policies specifying which accommodation costs they will cover, so workers should check with their employer or HR department. 

Meal expenses

Employees can be reimbursed for food expenses incurred as part of their work duties, but they must provide documentation like the purchase date, location, and amount. If the meal is shared, the reimbursement claim should also include details about any guests, such as their names, titles, and companies. The requirements may vary by company, but it's generally best to include this information to avoid double payment if the employee also receives a meal allowance.

Simplify your
expenses with Ramp

Invoice vs. receipt: What's the difference?

While invoices and receipts are often used interchangeably, it's important to understand the distinct purpose and function of each document.

An invoice is a document that requests payment from a customer or client. It outlines the goods or services provided, the associated costs, and the total amount owed. Invoices typically include details such as the invoice date, due date, item descriptions, quantities, unit prices, and any applicable taxes or fees.

A receipt, on the other hand, is a confirmation of payment. It serves as proof that the customer has paid the amount due, as specified on the invoice. Receipts may include some of the same information found on an invoice, such as the date, vendor details, and total amount paid.

The key difference is that an invoice is a request for payment, while a receipt is the documentation of that payment being made. Businesses use both invoices and receipts as part of their overall financial management and accounting processes.

Navigating expense reimbursement without a proof of purchase

In situations where a receipt is unavailable, such as a lost or misplaced document, you may still be able to submit an expense claim. However, you'll need to provide a detailed written explanation, along with any other supporting documentation you can gather, to substantiate the claim.

You can begin by reviewing your company's expense policy to understand the procedures for situations where a proof of purchase is missing. Some employers may allow the use of an affidavit or a sworn statement, while others may accept alternative proof such as a bank statement, electronic transaction logs, or paid invoice. For minor expenses, some companies offer a lump-sum refund without the need for receipts. If possible, you can also return to the merchant to ask for a duplicate receipt. 

You can, however, avoid these issues and streamline your employee reimbursement process by using expense management software, which allows for the digital capture of receipts and can automatically enforce company policies.

Automate your expense management with Ramp

Ramp offers an all-in-one expense management platform that integrates corporate cards with a sophisticated software system. This allows your business to automate expense reporting, including the important task of managing proof of purchase receipts.

Your employees can easily capture and submit receipts through text or email, and Ramp's robust features, such as proactive policy controls and AI-powered reconciliation, work together to prevent overspending and ensure compliance with company policies. This implies that your company can maintain compliance requirements, maximize tax deductions, and get better insights into your spending by using Ramp's technologies.

Try Ramp for free
Error Message
No personal credit checks or founder guarantee.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Contributor Finance Writer
John is a freelance writer and content strategist with over three years of experience and expertise covering topics on finance, HR/business, and IT security for small and medium-sized businesses. His work has been featured on reputable platforms like Forbes Advisor and Techopedia.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


How Mindbody & Classpass saved time, enhanced visibility, and improved usability with Ramp

“We were going to hold office hours, but it was so quiet that we never needed to. All the feedback was positive -- it was very easy to roll out.”
Heather Bruzus, Principal Accountant, Mindbody & Classpass

How Rarebreed Veterinary Partners Prepared for Scale with Ramp

“I can look in Ramp and see my spend for the month immediately. I don’t have to go on 14 different platforms. It’s all right there.”
Eric Chabot, VP of Accounting & Controller, Rarebreed Veterinary Partners

How Tomo drove efficiency and slashed time to close with Ramp

"Bringing our close timeline down by half has given us so much more time for projects and analysis.”
Eric Ho, SVP, Head of Finance, Tomo

How Crowdbotics streamlined, centralized, and saved with Ramp

“We switched from our legacy provider to Ramp in under a week and heard zero complaints."
Miles Lavin, VP of Strategic Finance, Crowdbotics

How Ramp Helped REVA Air Ambulance Save Time, Improve Visibility, and Gain Peace of Mind

“We were able to mold Ramp to our company to set it up as needed within departments. But the biggest selling feature to us was the automatic, real-time integration with Sage.”
Seth Miller, Controller, REVA

How Heyday Skincare gained control over 23+ entities with Ramp

“Ramp has been a saving grace by organizing and consolidating systems and giving us real time visibility across 23 entities.”
Shawn Gordon, Sr. Accounting Manager, Heyday Wellness

How Ramp helped Rustic Canyon Restaurant Group promote a culture of financial awareness and responsibility

"Ramp has helped promote a culture of awareness and accountability, there's no swipe your card and forget about it, people are more attuned to why and how they are spending."
Derek Arnette, Controller, Rustic Canyon Restaurant Group