The purpose of this guide is to give you some practical advice about how to handle your accounting records in an efficient and secure manner. It will also explain matters that many have questions about and which there often are misunderstandings about.
Your most important job in the accounting process as a business owner is to collect and organize the accounting records required by the accounting. To make it as easy as possible for you we will provide some practical advice.
Our most important advice for physical records is to only keep them in one dedicated location. Which location that is completely depends on your type of operation. If you have a desk in your workplace, we suggest you keep some kind of folder where you collect your supplier invoices right after you paid them, and where you place your receipts as soon as you return to your workplace. Try to not have receipts spread out in your car, drawer, laptop bag and refrigerator. If you don’t have a desk you should decide about another location to always put your records in. All the pages of the invoices are needed, not just the first one. All the receipts that belong to a credit card invoice need to be kept. Go through the invoice and make sure that all the receipts are available before you send them to the person handling the bookkeeping. When scanning you should scan the credit card invoice first and then the associated receipts. If a receipt is in another language than Swedish or English you should write a short note on the receipt about what has been purchased. If it is a personal expense, you should write the name of the person and the sum in SEK in case of foreign currency. Also write the project number in case of project reporting.
Digital records are often the greatest challenge in collecting and organizing the accounting records. Our recommendations are the following:
- Handle the digital records at once. If you order something online, you usually get an email with a digital receipt as soon as you placed the order. We recommend you make it a habit to wait for this email and handle it at once. Either send it directly to the accounting system or save it in a folder on your computer in case you have everything stored locally. Sometimes you get one email with an order confirmation, and one with a receipt. It is the receipt which is the required accounting record.
- Make a checklist for recurring digital records that aren’t generated from new orders. I.e., subscriptions from Google, Facebook or Adobe. When a month or quarter is over you walk through the checklist and download the email receipts or the receipts from the online portals for the suppliers in question.
No matter how meticulous one is, accounting records will get lost. If you lost a supplier invoice you can call your supplier and ask for an email copy of the invoice. If a digital record is missing, you can probably find it in your email account. If you managed to delete an email by accident you might be able to download it from the supplier’s website if you have an account there. If it’s a Swedish supplier, you might be able to call them and ask for a copy. Physical receipts might be hard to recover if you lost them. If the sum of the receipt is considerable or if you have given your name in order to register a product warranty, you can sometimes get a copy of a lost receipt if you contact the store. All pages of the invoices or receipts are needed for the accounting, not just the first one.
If efforts to recover lost records fails, the transactions still needs to be bookkept somehow. If the sums and number of missing receipts are low, and if it’s clear what has been bought, the tax authorities might in an audit approve the expenses even if the original receipts are missing. It is more likely that deductions for payments to SJ (Train company) for 254 SEK is approved, than a missing receipt from Systembolaget for 4 567 SEK. You as the company owner need to decide whether a missing receipt should be bookkept without a record or if it should be deducted from your salary. VAT should usually never be deducted if the receipt or invoice is missing.
For the person handling the bookkeeping to help identify missing records we recommend that all purchases are made directly from the company account or bank card. That way the bank account statements can be used to identify missing receipts or invoices. Missing receipts paid by private money is hard to identify, as there is nothing to reconcile them against.