Doing Your Taxes is Gross. This One App Has Made it Fun.

Have a small business or freelance work that means you have to save a lot of receipts? Yeah.  Me too. I’m about to make your life a lot easier.  With a tax app of all things. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Expensify tax app photographing receipt on white desk.

 

I’ll be the first to agree that this isn’t nearly as much fun as that time I showed you how to build a pizza oven.  But it’s almost as enjoyable.  Quick note, this is not a sponsored post.  I wanted to get that out of the way right up front.  This is just an app I found and genuinely think every small business owner should have.

As a blogger I am indeed running a small business. I know it seems like all I do is sit on my couch and think of funny ways to talk about how I sneezed, but blogging is much more complicated than that.  Sometimes I have to sit on my couch and think of funny ways to talk about my cats.

Because I have a small business there are a lot of expenses related to what I do that I can write off.  Groceries, heat, water, supplies, and cat treats of course.  Up until now I’ve saved every single receipt each year and filed them by month and category.   It’s a pain in the assparts.

I have good intentions every new tax year to be better about keeping my receipts filed and added up by the end of every month so I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of receipts to deal with at the end of the year. However by March I lose energy and just end up shoving all receipts to the bottom of my purse where I hope they’ll be found by the tax fairy, organized and dropped on my accountants desk in a cloud of fairy dust.

To date this has never happened.

I spent the better part of this spring looking for a solution to organizing all of my receipts. I tested out about 5 apps for scanning receipts and this one won out based on ease of use, functionality and price.

Admittedly I was sucker for their tagline.

EXPENSIFY – Expense Reports That Don’t Suck.

You’re a small business owner or freelancer and you have a drawer, garbage bag or – if you’re especially organized – shoebox filled with your yearly receipts.  At the end of every year you have to organize them, add them up, re-add them because you’re not good at adding, even with a calculator, then hand them over to your accountant.  It’s gross and awful and nobody likes to do it.

Get. This. App.

The Tax App

iPhone screen with Expensify app highlighted.

 

Expensify does much more than just scan receipts but for now that’s all I use it for and at $5 US a month, it’s worth every penny.  Here’s how it works.  (Yup, I realize this sounds like a paid-for sales pitch but it isn’t)

  1. Buy something.
  2. Take a photo of the receipt from within the Expensify app.
  3. Choose which category it should go into.  Click save.
  4. Throw out your receipt.

The Expensify app scans the receipt, identifies the store it came from, what the total was, and what date the receipt was issued.  The only thing you’re responsible for is taking the photo and choosing which category to save it to.

Speaking of categories, you can choose and name all of your own categories which seems like a pretty straight forward logical thing for an app like this to have but not all receipt apps let you do that. You’re stuck with the categories the app has laid out.

A look at the opening page of Expensify receipt app on iPhone.

If you need to reference a receipt for some reason you can go into Expensify and search for it.  As long as you remember the date or the store you bought it at you can search for any receipt  in the app.  I had to do this the other day while I was writing my post on The Magical Magnetic Key Cube.  I couldn’t remember the size of the rare earth magnets I bought or how much they cost.  In seconds I could search and find the Lee Valley receipt in Expensify and get the answers I needed.

Screen shot from desktop computer of Expensify desktop app.

You get emailed a copy of all your receipts so you have a copy of them plus you can download them all to your computer as well (just in case you’re scared Expensify is going to disappear on you with all of your scanned receipts.)

And yes.  I know you’re wondering about this … scanned receipts are just as legitimate as an actual receipt in the eyes of the Tax Monger.  However not all stores accept scanned receipts for returns so if you buy something like an appliance, cell phone, or anything else you might need to return, keep your receipt.

Expensify receipt app on iPhone.

 

I am giddy every time I use this thing.  EVERY TIME.  It does a lot more than scan receipts including tracking travel expenses by being integrated with all kinds of companies like Uber, hotels and airlines.  You can integrate your credit card so all your online purchases will be added into your expenses and it also integrates with Quickbooks and other tax software.  I will probably never use anything other than the receipt scanner and it’s still worth it to me.

Like I said I tested out several of these apps and this is the one I chose.  Others were either too expensive per month because they were really meant for larger companies or they were too complicated to use.

THIS is the beginning of a new tax season so it’s the perfect time for you to get this app and start using it.  At the end of the tax year I won’t have anything to add up or categorize or dread.

When you look in the bottom of my purse from now on all you’ll see is a wallet, my keys and a generous sprinkling of fairy dust.

 

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26 Comments

  1. Marilyn says:

    I’m going to tell my sister about this

    • Karen says:

      Marilyn it’s GREAT. Tell her. Tell anyone who has to add up receipts at the end of the year. If I happen to take a picture of the same receipt twice for some reason it lets me know it’s a duplicate and I can erase one. ~ k!

  2. Lynn says:

    Just tonight I’ve been searching for exactly the same thing…but to track personal expenses for budgeting. Can Expensify break down one receipt into multiple categories? Thinking I may use Num Receipts. Did you check them out?

  3. Thank you…I’m going to look into this!

  4. Paula says:

    I am an accountant so I can tell you that it will be so much better at the receiving end, too! What? No shoebox?!

  5. Kerrill says:

    But if you keep your receipts in a shoe box, this justifies another cute new pair of shoes. My question is, does that make the shoes deductible?

  6. That’s it. I can say goodbye to my shoebox of receipts?!!! Yaasssss. I officially love you. The end.

  7. Kerrill says:

    But if you keep your receipts in a shoe box, this justifies yet another cute new pair of shoes. My question is, does that make the shoes deductible?

  8. Jerry says:

    And soooooo, is the cost of the app deductible as well?

  9. Allison says:

    Thank you Karen!!!! It is tax time for me too and I am going crazy with all the paper receipts, envelopes, ziplock bags, highlighters, and my spreadsheet.
    I will nominate you for live sainthood if this app really works!

    • Karen says:

      Being a live saint sounds like a lot of pressure. Public appearances and everything. Maybe just a hearty handshake from you and the gift of a small castle in a country of our choosing. `~ karen!

  10. Allison says:

    Wow, tax time has turned me upside down!

  11. Allison says:

    Sounds awesome! Will it track mileage, too?

  12. Therese says:

    Sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

    My husband is an accountant, but he never helps me with organizing tools like this. I think he will be impressed by your suggestion too.

    Cheers and good work , as usual.

    tew

  13. janni says:

    Karen,
    Can you search for an item previously scanned by item? For example, search a category like “Hardware Store” for a hammer? Also, is there a size limit to the receipt? Many of my receipts are full pages.
    Thanks, Janni

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janni. No you can’t search for individual items in the receipt. You’d search for the store or date you bought it. There may be a way to manually add in all of the items on a receipt so you can search them but that’d be a bigger pain that keeping things in a shoebox, lol. There isn’t any size limit to the receipt. ~ karen!

  14. Treva says:

    Amazing! We have been looking at apps like this and Expensify was one of the finalists . I’m sold! Thanks for sharing your positive experience. 🙂

  15. Hannah says:

    I am desperately wishing I could get my dad to use this….but then he’d have to have a smartphone :/
    I’m still stuck ‘doing his books’ in a bloody paper edger book. He rebelled against my excel spreadsheets. This app looks amazing!

  16. Jack says:

    Karen, not sure how the tax department would deal with the tossing of receipts. I have been out of the audit business for quite some time now but, back in the day, hard copies were necessary for tax purposes. But then, ten years ago a cloud was a precipitation mass high up in the sky. Things may have changed……..

    • Karen says:

      Yep, lol. Things have changed. Digital receipts are 100% accepted by the government both in the US and Canada. ~ karen!

  17. Robert Vellios says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the tip, will look into Expensify and likely buy it.

    A reader asked about mileage; for the iPhone and most likely Android phones, MileIQ is a lifesaver. It tracks your movements in your car and at the end of the day, you are prompted to enter which trips were business and which were personal. Year end summary is printed and business mileage totals are given to the CPA.

    Last, I strongly recommend iBank for the Mac. Intuit/Quicken has had little to nothing to offer for the Mac for years, they will not put in the effort to keep it level with the PC versions. iBank takes all your Quicken files and converts them. Provides manual or auto downloads from all your financial institutions and credit cards. Easy category mgmt and report writing, makes my CPA’s life easier.
    I recall it costs about $100

    And no, I have no interest in either company.

    Thanks for all the gat posts, and I’m jealous, it looks like you have a receipt for LeeValley where you walked into the store, us commoners must rely on on one ordering.

    Robert

    • Karen says:

      I did indeed walk into the store. 🙂 I also write for them and occasionally review products for them. So basically I’m very special. 😉 ~ karen!

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