I Don’t Have All My Receipts for 2015! Now What?


It’s time for family child care providers to start pulling together their business receipts and other records to get ready for filing taxes.

Keeping good records means having documents that back up your business income and expenses. IRS rules say that you should have an “adequate record” for each expense that you claim on your taxes. The ideal adequate record is a receipt for each purchase.

But what if you don’t have a receipt? Maybe you lost it or never received one. What do you do now?

If you don’t have receipts, you can still claim expenses on your tax return without them. Other adequate records may include: cancelled check, credit or debit card statements, written records you create, calendar notations, and photographs.

All is not lost even if you are missing some of these records at tax time. You can take steps to reconstruct records that will be acceptable to the IRS in an audit. Here are some examples:

If your receipt has faded and is no longer readable, see my article “The Case of the Fading Receipt.”

Mileage records – If you don’t have receipts to show business trips, review your cancelled checks, credit/debit card statements, training certificates, mileage log, and calendar notations for records of trips. Photographs may show field trips with the children. Bank deposit slips or your check register will show trips to the bank. Use Mapquest or GoogleMaps to determine the miles to your destinations. See my article “How to Keep Records for Craigslist and Yard Sale Purchases.”

Individual items – If you have no records at all for individual items you purchased for your business: Take a picture of each item and write down what you can remember about where you bought it, when you bought it, and how much it cost. If it was purchased new and you know the name of the store, look up the item in the store’s online catalog and copy the catalog page.

If you purchased used toys from another child care provider, look up similar items on Craigslist or Ebay and copy the page with the advertisement on it. If you paid by check, save the check. Write the notation “toys” on the memo line of the check.

Show a pattern of spending – When you realize that you don’t have receipts or other key records, your first step should always be to start keeping better records from that day forward. This can help support your claim for expenses when your records are not complete.

For example, let’s say you weren’t keeping receipts for cleaning supplies from January – March. If you started keeping receipts in April through the end of the year, you could use your average monthly expenses for the last nine months of the year as an estimate of these expenses for the first three months.

Monthly review – Going forward, conduct a monthly review of your records so you can identify any missing records right away.

Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/span112/

6a0133f3fc5805970b01bb08151dd5970d-320wiFor a complete discussion of how to keep good records, see my book Family Child Care Record Keeping Guide.

Categories: Record Keeping, Record Keeping & Taxes

11 replies

  1. I have been scanning my receipts and saving them on the computer. I know with time the ink on the receipts fade. It also helps when the ink is very light on the receipt, scanning it you can actually make it darker. I save my receipt file, monthly expense logs and income on their own usb drive for each year. I can store the drive in a safe place and don’t have to keep all of the files on my computer.

  2. I have a question regarding form 1040 ln 6c. child under 17 for child tax credit. Our son turned 17 in Nov. Our accountant said we no longer can claim him. I always thought you could claim your kids. (maybe til college age?) I would appreciate any advise. Secondly any pointers on closing my dc business 11/2015. Just trying to finalize and double check it all. Thanks for all your expertise. You’ve helped out so many providers over the years Tom!

  3. I sell cars for profit but dont have any receipts. Can i still claim taxes

    • You can claim expenses for your business if you have “adequate records.” If you don’t have receipts, you may have other records: cancelled checks, credit/debit card statements, calendar notations, written records, photographs, written statements from customers, etc. You can reconstruct records to the best of your ability and claim them.

  4. It’s my first year doing my own taxes. I always heard it was a year behind but since I paid for my classes after the year,I counted it for the following year (I put in my school tuition costs in 2015 for my taxes for 2016) I already submitted my taxes but I’m pretty sure my parents had already done the form for that year in 2016 (as a cost for 2015) will the irs know I claimed the education credit as a mistake? By when will I know if they caught my error if it was an error?

    • If you paid for 2015 classes in 2016 this is a 2016 expense for you. You claim expenses in the year you paid them. You report income in the year your received it, not the year you earned it. If parents claimed their child care tax credit in years that didn’t correspond to how you reported the income, don’t worry about it. It’s not uncommon and won’t hurt you if you are audited.

  5. This is my first year filing my business. I only have receipts of their actual cake order with price..I did not keep up with my receipt’s for gas, supplies and other miscellaneous items….I do not have proof of purchase.Can I still file my business?

    • You can still report expenses for which you have an “adequate” record. You can reconstruct some records. You can use the standard mileage rate to claim car expenses without gas or other car receipts.

  6. I forgot to claim childcare on 2015 taxes but claimed it this year. Is this okay? I have proof that my child was enrolled.

    • I assume you are saying that you paid someone to care for your child in 2015 but didn’t claim the child care tax credit for 2015. If so, you can claim that money towards your child care tax credit for 2016. Instead, you should amend your 2015 tax return and get a refund.

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