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Discussion:Phone pictures of receipts?

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Discussion Forum Index --> Basic Tax Questions --> Phone pictures of receipts?


Discussion Forum Index --> Tax Questions --> Phone pictures of receipts?

Michaelstar (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
How many of you have clients who want to take pictures of their receipts with their phone and use that as their documentation/substantiation for their business records? Do they then place all of this into folders by expense and have a bookkeeper compile this?

Markb29 (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
talk about contemporaneous !

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
No, they just send their phone in with their tax return.

Rupert (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
Ridiculous. I usually just take a picture of the tax return and send it to them when I'm done.

Coddington (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
I do that for myself. This feature is built into the iOS app for my time/billing software. When I can't take a picture, I scan the receipts and then upload them into the cloud-based software. I can then generate a pdf report showing each entry with its supporting documents. Since the receipts are assigned to the proper account when photographed or scanned, it's real easy.

TaxDude (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
Some clients have tried to send me their W2 form with a picture taken with their phone. Try telling them that isn't going to work - no fun.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
I had one lady do the same with a tax notice. Her angle was terrible, couldn't read a damn word on the notice. I think she stood across the room when she snapped the photo. I told her that I could unequivocally state: "I am sure that you have no unreported income from a Photography Business."

She didn't like that comment too much.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
Mr. Chan stopped in the other day, and gave me all his work papers on his abacus.

Taxaway (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
I tell clients to take pictures of business meals receipts, which could fade in 3 years' time. Might be just as tasty. Also to take photos of their noncash donations if they want to make a stronger case of their generous FMV estimates.

Michaelstar (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
Unfortunately for those of us who started in this business before personal computers are going to be forced into situations like this. TaxDude - I feel your pain!

Coddington - now that is the kind of answer I'm looking for. I guess I am going to need to research what your talking about. Thank you for your comment.

I searched this valid topic in the yellow box and it seemed to not have been yet discussed. I just got used to scanning documents in this paperless world - now pictures with fingers holding a piece of paper that is difficult to totally make out.

Still looking for valid replies from others........

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
You'd have to research the rules on electronic storage and record keeping. I'm sure there's nothing specifically in there about photos of receipts, but I suspect we'd be able to tell, from that guidance, if we've got something cookin' or not. Scanning and saving a receipt is not a whole lot different than a photographed receipt. The main difference, as I see it, is that scans typically end up sizing the receipt to its actual dimensions, so the scanned receipt is very much a duplicate copy of the actual receipt. With a photograph, you can be too far away, too close, wrong angle, etc...stuff that tends to reduce the integrity of the original...but if you don't reduce the integrity of the original, and things are legible, I don't see a big problem with it.

In fact, last night at the restaurant, I walked by 13 or 14 tables on the way out...snapping photos of everyone's receipt and dropping business cards. I have a big meal deduction coming my way, for all those *prospective* clients I took out to dinner last night. LOL LOL LMAO LMDO

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
I have noticed that clients who send docs via JPEG are usually not my best clients. I couldn'y imagine sending several jpegs to an attorney for him to prepare my will of sale document.

This year we instituted an informal policy of "NO JPEGS". We ask that they scan and send as one pdf or as few as possible. One client sent in a 40 page 1099B odd pages, then even pages, some upside down.

I sent it back and asked for approval to bill $125 to print and sort it or would he like to do it.

Like anything else..its usually 5 percent of the clients. Most are good, respect your time etc.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
We ask that they scan and send as one pdf or as few as possible

I'm totally with you on that. I love those jackasses who are in the dark ages with the flatbed scanner that send 2 pages that are 10 megs.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
then there are the ones who send 25 pdfs but not in a folder......

another pet peeve are people who work for big companies who wrap the attachments into their own security systems.....JP Morgan Chase, Indiana University......I have enough passwords on my mind without remembering these.

DebP (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/rp-97-22.pdf

Rev proc 97-22

I had to look this up a while ago for another client of mine.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

12 March 2014
Seems to me like a snapshot from a camera can satisfy the rules.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
There are many phone apps that will scan <to pdf> and then upload to an expense app for use later. It's how many younger people and the tech savvy will go. I recommend Genius Scan for android phones. $4.99 but instead of an image it takes the pic as a PDF so it's more usable.

The problem with going paperless and using client portals is getting the clients to understand the rules. Love it when they upload a few things, then check to see if we got it, then a week later upload more, then check. We tell them emphatically that they are not to notify us until everything is in there. I am seriously thinking of providing the 25 commandments of tax season as an inclusion in my begining of the year packet next year.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
Agree (wow, is this a first?) with Fred.

Do NOT send me 28 emails over the span of 2 weeks, then assume that I have everything. And how does this save trees anyways? I have to find and print each of those emails out and put them into a file so they will be together when I'm ready to do the tax return. How on earth do I know I've printed all of them?

Michaelstar (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
DepP - great link on point.

I agree as well Kevin. Tell clients to send it in all at once and they send 30-40 emails with a page at a time and no clue about organization..........and the bill only goes up, up, up only because of time and not the complexity of the return and the actual work involved.

Kathyt (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
I hate when I get those emails, so this year I tried the app NATP put out, taxpocket, I have told my younger clients to use it, I played around with it a little bit, and it seems like they take a picture of the receipt and assign it to an expense, it tracks your mileage like sort of like a pedometer does, you hit start when you start driving and end when you stop, so they can send me the mileage report along with the expense report & the receipts are there to back it up. Then they can forward it to me, so I get an email telling me when they send it & I have to log in to the taxpocket site to download it. It seems like it SHOULD work well but it's new this year so all I've done so far is tell a few clients about it, I haven't actually gotten anything from anyone yet (other than myself when I practiced on it to see how it works) I just don't know if they will actually use it because you have to assign the expenses to a report, it seemed kind of complicated to me. Wondering if anyone else has tried it.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
I agree. The minute I get an isolated document from someone, I email them back, tell them to stop, tell them to get it in one place...and then come in to meet with me (whoa)! Yes, I do not do this mail/drop-off/sight unseen shit anymore where the client has all the control and power...If they're elderly or whatever, then we do the interview over the phone with 2 stacks: 1 stack send to me; the 2nd stack, file it away, I don't want to see it. It's either not important or I wrote the number down that I needed.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
I agree hat Kevin agrees with me you see.

Marcilio (talk|edits) said:

13 March 2014
Whatever happened to backs of envelopes?

Harry Boscoe (talk|edits) said:

14 March 2014
...backs of envelopes, and shopping bags?

Coddington (talk|edits) said:

14 March 2014
I must confess that my fiancee stores her unreimbursed teacher receipts in shopping bags -- along with every other receipt she receives throughout the year.

Captcook (talk|edits) said:

14 March 2014
I had a client who used to do this. We did her bookkeeping. She had three entities. She would take a picture of a receipt or a check she had just written and then send it to my bookkeeper. No notes on regarding the company to which it applied, whether the bill had been paid, nothing.

I had several meetings trying to explain why this wouldn't work. We don't do any work for this client anymore.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

15 March 2014
I must confess that my fiancee stores her unreimbursed teacher receipts in shopping bags -- along with every other receipt she receives throughout the year.

Hey, when are you getting married? Let's make it a TaxAlmanac wedding...I will do the Reading, from Chapter 100, Title 26, Subtitle A...

Coddington (talk|edits) said:

15 March 2014
This June, Chris. Neither during the school year, tax season, nor football season.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

15 March 2014
Wow, right around the corner, congratulations...good timing.

Belle (talk|edits) said:

March 17, 2014
"...the 25 commandments of tax season"

I think we need to start a thread listing those commandments.

In no particular order, and most definitely not complete:

1) No JPEG's 2) No duplicates (income OR expenses) 3) No unopened *Important Tax Doc* mail

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

17 March 2014
4) No 2012 receipts

5) in fact, no 2012 documents

Coddington...you do realize that LOVE has a price? Have you done the math on the increase in your taxes MFJ??? :)


Rev. Kenefick. has a ring to it.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

17 March 2014
From Dallas 13, Lions 7:

He who hath photo documentation hatheth the Lord on his side...

Coddington (talk|edits) said:

17 March 2014
I added the MFJ functionality to my household/business budgeting/estimated tax payment calculator last year.

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

18 March 2014
Try to discouage this by telling them that someone could steal their phone or they could drop their phone into a puddle and a public bus could run over it. When you find a phone, do not turn it in, throw it away. Of course, the auditor could argue, and rightfully so, that the TP was taking pictures of receipts not her own...i.e. that she was a receipt hunter.

Wiles (talk|edits) said:

20 March 2014
6) (Add on to #3) Not everything we need to prepare your taxes gets mailed to you in an envelope that says "Important Tax Information"

7) Believe it or not, that Organizer we mail to you is very useful. Use it! Or at least page through it the night before your appointment.

8) If you keep your books in QuickBooks, don't give me your data file. Print your own P&L, read it, and ask yourself, "Does this make sense?". It is just better for everyone that I don't start drilling down into those details.

Wiles (talk|edits) said:

20 March 2014
9) No e-mails that include the phrase "quick question" or "I know you are busy, but...". Just be honest.

I would also like to add "No blaming your spouse.", but I think I am already over my quota.

Ckenefick (talk|edits) said:

20 March 2014
"Just one more thing, Chris..."

"Ok, thanks. I have just one more thing, Chris.."

"Got it, Chris. Just one last question..."

"Ok, thanks for that answer. And my final question is..."

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

20 March 2014
10) I do not take dictation over the phone for amounts that need to be included in your return. Email or FAX me the info in writing.

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