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Q&A

I run our business out of our home, so I have 7 years of business receipts and statements to store. I am wondering how long I have to keep all of our personal receipts and statements. I am running out of storage space.

Lynn, Ottawa

Many of us face the same issues you’re having, Lynn. Keeping and storing paper receipts can be a pain, especially for those of us with small offices.

Since you’re in Canada, I’ll give you the Canadian taxation standards for keeping receipts. (For those living in other countries, you’ll have to check with your relevant government agency.)

Canada Revenue Agency says companies must keep their financial records for six years. I like to keep six years (including the current fiscal year) plus one for good luck. I always advise my clients to check with their accountant, just to be on the safe side.

The second part of your issue is storage. It doesn’t take long before all those piles of paper receipts become unruly. Having all this paper clutter around us is stressful and frustrating. If storage is at a premium, all those pieces of paper can take up a lot of space.

To address this, many small business owners (including me) have started scanning their receipts and shredding the paper copies. Scanning has other advantages other than taking up less space. It’s also easier to search for a digital receipt. Again for those living outside Canada, check to make sure your government taxation department accepts digital copies (and what format they prefer).

If you have a lot of receipts to scan, I’d recommend investing in a scanner that specializes in doing just that. Neat Receipts gets great reviews. It’s portable, scans receipts, business cards and documents and comes with software to help you organize all these bits and pieces on your computer.

Whatever scanner you choose, ease is the key. Make sure it’s easy to use, enables you to easily find your digital receipts and lets you easily share these digital copies.

Good luck Lynn and happy scanning!