I am a self-employed graphic designer and am pulling together a list of my income and expenses for my tax return and I am missing receipts. I don’t have much in the way of paperwork for my expenses but they are all detailed on my bank and credit card statements e.g. it is clear that a cost is for Adobe or Dropbox for example. Is this sufficient or do I need receipts to claim them?

Missing Receipts

HMRC guidance is that there should be sufficient back-up evidence for all items of income and expenditure that are shown on the self-employment pages of a tax return.

The definition of what is considered sufficient can be a slightly grey area, in our view it will depend upon the type and level of expenditure. For example, if on the odd occasion you are missing receipts for small items of cash expenditure such as a taxi fare then so long as there is some kind of record kept there should be no issues.

If, on a consistent basis, there are no receipts kept for some rather large items of expenditure such as computer equipment or business travel then there is likely to be more of an issue should there be any investigation into your affairs, with the potential for HMRC to disallow these expenses.

In the instance of general expenses such as payments for adobe or dropbox that are shown clearly on the bank statements on a regular basis we would recommend still claiming these as expenses in the period in question but keeping receipts for these from now on would be best practice.

The retention of all paperwork in this manner would avoid any ambiguity in the event of any future tax investigation.

Some accounting software such as FreeAgent or Xero would be useful in this regard as not only will the bank payment be categorised at the time but also there is scope to easily take copies of the receipts and attach them to the appropriate item of expenditure.

However if you want to keep your book-keeping simple then you might want to check out our self employed spreadsheet.

The above advice would differ if you were VAT registered under the standard rate scheme. Under this scheme all items of expenditure in which you have suffered VAT should have the appropriate VAT receipts attached to them if you wish to reclaim the VAT. HMRC have been known to disallow VAT reclaims where they have found missing receipts and backup.