I have been using the iPad to keep track of receipts for a while now, and it has been working pretty well. For some receipts, like the one in the screenshot, I use my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner (the link will take you to the newest iteration of this popular device) and do optical character recognition (OCR) on it before importing it as a PDF file.
However, when I am away from the house for a few days, or just too busy to bother with firing up the computer and plugging in the scanner, I take a picture, label it, tag it, and throw the receipt away. The IRS accepts digital copies of receipts (see Rev. Proc. 97-22), so you don’t have to worry about those anymore! The instructions below assume you are using an iPad or iPod.
- Make some tags in Evernote. You’ll need to have these set up ahead of time so that Evernote knows how to handle your receipt. In the screenshot I have three tags: “record” (this goes on all of my paperwork), “receipt” to tell me what kind of record it is, and “electronic” to tell me what kind of receipt it is. The tags can be in any order. If you itemize your taxes, you could use the categories that you will need to sort receipts into for your taxes.
- Photograph the receipt. The screenshot only shows a portion of the receipt, but I have the entire image in the note.
- Mail it to your Evernote account. In the subject line after the name of your note you’ll want to tell Evernote how to tag it. In my case, I would write: “110619 yodobashi western digital 11800 yen #record #receipt #electronic”.
That’s all! How do you organize your receipts?
NOTE: If naming and tagging is too much trouble for you, then you could go hardcore and mail it in without typing anything, relying on Evernote to do OCR and record the time of the note’s creation. My naming system is old school, but it avoids problems with OCR (in this case, the ヨドバシ in the title of the receipt was not recognized correctly by my OCR software) and it is nice to have titles when searching quickly through notes. I’ll get around to writing a post about the benefits of tags later.