What Is a Money Receipt?

Dale Marshall

A money receipt is a document which notes the details of a financial transaction between two parties. It’s usually prepared by the seller of goods or services and given to the purchaser. The receipt names the seller and often the purchaser as well, lists the date, and often records the nature of the transaction itself; i.e., how much money changed hands and for what reason.

A cashier makes change for a customer before printing a receipt.
A cashier makes change for a customer before printing a receipt.

If prepared by hand or in acknowledgement of a private transaction, money receipts are generally signed by the seller as acknowledgement of having received payment. A machine-printed money receipt is routinely offered to the purchaser upon the completion of a retail transaction, such as the purchase of a pair of shoes or a meal in a restaurant. In such cases, the lack of a signature doesn't diminish the receipt’s validity.

A money receipt documents the date, time, place and amount of  a financial transaction between two parties.
A money receipt documents the date, time, place and amount of a financial transaction between two parties.

When properly completed and signed, a money receipt is proof that a transaction took place and generally is sufficient to establish ownership of the goods listed. Receipts are usually requested by insurance companies when a claim is filed for loss or destruction of a covered item, not only to prove ownership but also to establish the item’s cost. For this reason, transactions between private parties, such as for the sale of an automobile or other item of personal property, should always be evidenced by a money receipt.

Banks always issue receipts for any funds they receive, and they require a signed receipt for any disbursements they make. Most bank withdrawal forms, in fact, are actually receipts and require the account-holder’s signature. Checks are often taken as a kind of money receipt as well, because they contain the payer's and payee's names, a date and a money amount. As they are signed only by the payer, however, checks don't incontrovertibly document the goods or services purchased. Acceptance and negotiation of a check by the payee doesn't constitute acceptance of any terms or conditions the payer may have written on the check, but negotiated checks are legal evidence that a payment has been made.

Retail outlets that permit returns of merchandise generally require the purchaser to produce the money receipt when presenting the goods for exchange or refund. Without a money receipt, many stores won’t consider allowing a return of merchandise. Likewise, if a customer brings an item to the store where it was purchased for in-store servicing, production of the receipt from the sale will often be required to establish the store’s responsibility to service the item.

Money receipts are critical in the resolution of disputes. For example, if the ownership of an item is in dispute, production of a proper receipt for the purchase of that item would generally be considered proof that the person who produced the receipt owned the item. Similarly, many tax authorities provide receipts to taxpayers when payments are made; these receipts may be required in the future if a disagreement arises over how much was actually paid. Machine-printed receipts are frequently entered into evidence in legal proceedings to establish one or more of the facts they record. For example, a receipt could be entered into evidence in a criminal trial to establish an alibi, proving that at a certain time and date, the person was in a retail outlet paying for a purchase.

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