What Is a Sales Receipt?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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A sales receipt is sometimes referred to as a proof of purchase. It is a document that is commonly given to a consumer when a sale is made. It will usually contain information about what was purchased, how much was paid, and the method of payment. There are a number of reasons why it may be important for a customer to retain this document, such as in the event that a refund is needed or for tax purposes.

When a sale is made, it can be important for both the merchant and the consumer to have a record of the transaction. This is usually provided in the form of a sales receipt. These documents may be generated in several ways.

Some sales receipts are handwritten. This is especially common when sales are conducted outdoors, such as at fairs or bazaars, where there is limited availability to electricity and commercial machinery. Sales receipts may be printed from cash registers when face-to-face transactions are conducted. There is also an increasing amount of technology boosting the use of electronically generated and distributed sales receipts.


These documents usually contain certain standard information. To begin with, at the top of a sales receipt, the name and the contact details of the merchant are usually listed. Following this, there is generally an itemized list of the products or services that were purchased. Many systems also provide the product or service identification numbers with each item. Then, the price of each item or service purchased is also listed adjacent to it.

Below the itemized list, there will usually be a subtotal, which is a calculation of the combined costs of the items above. Under this, there should be figures for the amount of tax that is charged on the subtotal. If several types of tax are applied to the purchase, these may be listed individually. Then, there should be a total, which is the full price including tax.

The method of payment is also generally included on a sales receipt. This can be a very important piece of information because many businesses' refund policies state that a customer's money will be returned in the form that it was paid. This means that a customer whose sales receipt shows a credit card purchase cannot receive a cash refund. Other reasons that a sales receipt is important for consumers is to qualify for rebates and to access the warranty. Also, when an individual plans to claim purchases on her taxes, she generally needs a sales receipt for proof of purchase.


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Post 3

@turquoise-- Yes, most places do require a receipt to be brought for refunds. And there is usually a time limit for returns too, usually around one month.

You could call up the store and ask them if you can return it without a receipt. If you purchased using your credit card, they may have a copy of the purchase or receipt in their system. Even if they don't give a refund, they could give a gift card or allow you to exchange the item with something else if it's certain that the products are from them and nowhere else.

I had this issue once and the store manager allowed me to exchange the item with something else even

though I had lost my receipt. So it may be worth asking.

Next time though, keep the receipt in the bag with the item or put it in your wallet. Receipts usually get lost when they're placed randomly in pockets, in the house or car.

Post 2

@SteamLouis-- You are right. I want to return something but I can't find my receipt. If I had kept it somewhere specific, then I wouldn't be in this situation. But I don't think they will refund my purchase if I don't take a receipt.

Post 1

I was picking up coffee from a coffee shop the other day. I was not given a receipt like I usually am when I purchase something. I asked for my receipt and the cashier told me that she threw it away. There were so many thrown away receipts in the trash bin that she couldn't possibly find mine in that pile. She said that people usually don't want their receipt. I was a little upset but what could I do?

I guess not everyone keeps their receipts like I do. I collect them to calculate my monthly expenses and to see if I'm on track with my budget and allowance for certain purchases. I think a receipt should be offered to every customer and if they decide they don't want it later, that's up to them.

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