The size and scope of receipts has gotten ridiculous.
Whether you’re buying bottled water at CVS or lunch at Boston Market, you’re likely to get a receipt that is at least a foot long and loaded with type that says:
- How did we do? Call our toll-free number and receive $.05 off your next purchase!
- You saved $1,527 today! Aren’t we great?
- Next time buy one, get one free! *insert impossible conditions here
I’m here to say that you do not have to keep your receipts—for the most part. It is true that to maximize your tax savings you will want to retain receipts for your unreimbursed job-related expenses (or self-employment expenses), daycare expenses, and medical expenses. Likewise, if your purchase is something you might return, obviously you should keep your receipt.
But what about deducting sales tax?
In general, your receipts from Panera or Froyo are not going to reduce your tax liability. Taxpayers are permitted to deduct income tax or sales tax—not both. So unless your sales tax deduction exceeds your income tax liability, saving all of those receipts might just be a waste of your time.
So I should get my receipts emailed to me?
Some stores offer customers the option of having receipts emailed to them. I never choose this option because I do not want more junk mail flooding my inbox. If you have had the foresight to set up an email account solely for the purpose of receiving junk mail, you may want to go ahead and give it out. Personally, it’s a matter of principle for me.
A little common sense can go a long way toward lightening up your wallet, purse, or murse (Man pURSE). Unfortunately, many trees will continue to die as long as stores continue to print them out. But at least you’ll know that the bad karma will not be attached to you!