That really is a question for your accountant as the answer depends on local tax law and audit requirements.
|We asked our merchant processor and they passed the buck and told us to "Check with your accountant" which of course really doesn't make much sense. |
That makes a lot of sense. There are usually laws how long you have to keep receipts and other documents of your company.
For example in my country the retention period for receipts is 10 years. There are usually retention periods for everything: letters, emails, receipts, inventories...
An accountant will know the retention periods that are relevant for you.
Ok, so it wasn't BS. I thought it dealt more with the merchant processor than a bookkeeping thing. After all, I get a monthly detailed statement of every transaction, and my online purchases have no paper receipts of course.
Assuming that your monthly statement also includes the wireless transactions, I disagree with the comments to check with your accountant. In that case, the main reason to keep the signed merchant copy is for documentation to respond to any chargebacks. So I'd keep them for a little more than a year.
And as far as the digital signatures go, I really have to wonder if they offer any protection against chargebacks. I know that my signatures on those things are barely more than scribbles- I don't even bother trying to sign legibly on them. Not that I sign very legibly on paper copies either. :)
Right. When I go to Home Depot or some place like that, I always sign the touch pad with a smiley face or just a straight line. The signature really has little meaning anymore.
We've done thousands of these wireless transactions and we've never had a chargeback (knock on wood), but it's hard to believe that if we did get one, they (the merchant) would want to see the paper receipt.
I do the same type of thing as you with the wireless terminal and trade shows.
We keep our paper receipts for about 6 months.
There have been a few times when a customer has received their statement and seen our business name and town and tried to file a chargeback based on the fact that they have never been to our town or area.
A copy of the signed receipt along with a note of where we were during the sale has gotten the chargeback reversed every single time.
I think the longest time frame we have had from sale to dispute was around 4 months but we keep the receipts a bit longer, just in case:)
|Assuming that your monthly statement also includes the wireless transactions, I disagree with the comments to check with your accountant. In that case, the main reason to keep the signed merchant copy is for documentation to respond to any chargebacks. So I'd keep them for a little more than a year. |
First of all: The law usually does not give any leeway in those matters. You are usually not allowed to judge for yourself which receipt you should keep and which are not so important and can be thrown away before the retention period is over.
Secondly: It's not only for the taxman and bookkeeping. There are also other legal limitation periods to consider. Suppose after three years someone goes through his old credit card statement, doesn't know who you are anymore and presses charges for fraud: He has never bought from you, you must have forged the signature. If you have thrown away the receipts before the end of the retention period and before the statute of limitations for this kind of felony have run out you can end up in serious trouble.
The statute of limitations for disputing credit card charges is usually 3 months from the statement date. My understanding (although IANAL) is that after that point, the customer has no recourse as he has by default accepted the charge without dispute.
|you must have forged the signature |
If he's going to claim that, then keeping the receipt isn't going to help any.
The statute of limitations for disputing credit card charges is usually 3 months from the statement date.
Depends on what country you are in. Legislation over-rides any limitations in the card companies' terms on service.
|If he's going to claim that, then keeping the receipt isn't going to help any. |
Of course it does, the signature can be compared by an court-appointed expert.
You can throw them all away the day they are done but if there is a chargeback you will lose.
The only resaon to keep them if for your protection against a charge backs. There in no law that makes you store them it is only recommended.
Your merchant provider recommends it to cover your butt.
From a commercial services website:
|"Make sure that you are destroying all credit card information on a regular basis. Storing bags of receipts in your office is only inviting a thief to walk in and take the bag. Some business keep years worth of printed credit card receipts sitting in boxes in their backrooms where any employee could get to them and it could be a very long time, if ever, before someone knew they were missing." |
Intresting to note the fines that can occur if you store this information in your system and it is breached.
[edited by: lorax at 10:41 am (utc) on May 13, 2009]