Can I just say it. Receipts are getting out of control. No, I’m not talking about the ones that are aggressively taking over my apartment, but the ones that they’re passing out at stores all over the place. I can go somewhere and buy ONE THING, and end up with a piece of paper the length of my arm.

Since I’m not planning on taking up ribbon twirling anytime soon, I’m left to ponder… why the *&$% this is happening.

And so when I started having to write a few receipts of my own, and asking some other artists for receipts for services rendered… I wondered, what officially counts as a receipt?

Does it need to be a comically long document, or can someone just send me an email with a name, price and date on it.

As I’ve been annoyingly consistent on: You can’t DEDUCT IT unless you have a receipt. But… is what you have technically a receipt at all?

I know for sure that a bank statement is NOT a receipt, neither is a credit card statement… but what about an invoice or an email… does that count, or does it need some kind of proof of payment?

So I called my dear friends at the Canada Revenue Agency, and we had a little chat about receipts.

What’s actually important??

Is it a receipt - From Rags to Reasonable

I fully acknowledge that some of the stuff on this receipt is probably important if you’re a big time business like Shoppers Drug Mart. But when you’re just a simple little arts business, you can boil things down to the essentials.

What it needs?:

Business Name: who’s getting paid
Business Address: not a necessity, but it’s a good idea
Amount paid: What did it cost?
Brief description of service: e.g: Voice Lesson
HST/GST: If you’re charging HST/GST, you also need to include that amount separately.

So what counts as a receipt?

This was the main question, and where she (My CRA friend) started off not so clearly.

“It just needs to be enough to support your claim. As long as your records aren’t incomplete you’re fine…”

I hate how subjective tax rules can be. Aren’t the only two sure things in the world death and taxes. We’ve got clear rules for death… why can’t we make them more cut and dry for taxes.

So here are a few of my (more specific) follow-up questions:

Is an invoice a receipt, or does it need proof of payment?

Yes, an invoice is fine for a receipt. As long as it matches your other records (in this she was referring to making sure the amount on the bill matches the amount of money coming out of your bank account)

Can I just get someone to send me an email with the information from a receipt on it?

Yes, an email with all of the pertinent information on it will be fine. Print it out, and add it to your records.

Does that email or invoice need a signature on it?


What would that even look like? 

Be as artistic as you like, just make sure it’s got the information I described above. But it can also be really simple. Here’s an example of an emailed receipt.

Is it a receipt? - From Rags to Reasonable

From my conversation with my new CRA friend I came away with the impression that when it comes to receipts common sense can be applied in a healthy dose. She assured me that no one is trying to trick me (which might have been a trick).

Is it a receipt?

Does what you’re holding in your hand prove you bought something, from someone at a certain time for a certain price?

There’s a good chance it counts.