What Is a Business Receipt?

Terry Masters

A business receipt is a record of a transaction. Most often, it documents a sale, but a business can issue a receipt for anything it wants to prove that it received or managed, such as donated goods, hours worked or attendance. Businesses generate receipts to comply with consumer protection laws and to establish records for tax purposes. As long as a receipt presents certain basic information, it can use almost any format. Typically, businesses use computer-generated slips of paper as receipts in retail sales and invoices in business-to-business transactions.

Receipts issued for a retail sale are the most common form of business receipt.
Receipts issued for a retail sale are the most common form of business receipt.

The most common type of business receipt is the record issued for a retail sale. Most jurisdictions require businesses to provide receipts to customers if the sale is more than a certain threshold. Receipts provide customers with proof of the transaction and demonstrate to tax authorities that the business is keeping track of sales for tax purposes. A typical receipt indicates the day and time of the transaction, the items sold or services provided, the price, any discounts, the amount of tax applied and the method of payment. With the proliferation of computerized cash registers and electronic payment methods, most retailers have a point of sale system that automatically generates a printed record as part of the transaction.

A business receipt from a courier may need to be signed upon the acceptance of goods.
A business receipt from a courier may need to be signed upon the acceptance of goods.

Businesses that buy from other businesses usually complete the transaction by using a purchase order and an invoice. The invoice lists the items to be sold and has a signature line where the buyer indicates that the products were received in good order. Although the invoice differs in format from the retail sales record, it is equally valid as an official business receipt.

In certain situations, a business generates receipts for transactions that are not as standard as a sale. The business receipt in these instances is most likely a form that is filled in by hand with the information that is particular to the event. For example, a business that receives donated goods might issue a receipt to the donor for tax purposes. Often, this receipt is filled out by hand with the details of the donation as the goods are inspected upon transfer.

Traditionally, a business receipt is a physical piece of paper that is exchanged between parties. With the popularization of the Internet, email and mobile computing, businesses have developed newer ways to provide customers with records of transactions. Some businesses offer to email receipts to customers or transfer the information electronically by using cell phone applications. These newer methods have changed the nature of the business receipt while saving resources in the process.

Business receipts are a record of a transaction, most often for a sale.
Business receipts are a record of a transaction, most often for a sale.

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