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Why Cash Receipts are Important for Your Business

Many businesses operate using only debit cards, credit cards, and checks, which leave a digital paper trail in your bank account, but that isn’t necessarily the case when buying and selling with cash. Whether your small business makes an occasional cash purchase or relies on cash as a primary method of doing business with customers, it’s important to keep close track of the details using cash receipts.

If you have not been keeping track of cash transactions in the past, it’s not too late to get started. Here’s a closer look at how cash receipts may work for your business and why it’s so important to track every dollar that goes in and out of your company.

What are cash receipts?

Cash receipts are documented records of the amount of cash that has changed hands in a transaction.

You’re likely familiar with them, but if you need a refresher, go to your local retail store and buy something with cash. You should automatically get a receipt explaining the purchase details, including a line indicating how you paid (cash) and how much you paid in total. While this is likely the most common type of cash receipt you’ll encounter on a day-to-day basis, cash receipts may also play an important role in your business.

Cash receipts don’t necessarily need all the details that are automatically included on receipts from big-box retailers. To qualify as an official record, they only need to record that cash changed hands, who was involved, when the transaction took place, and details of what was purchased. However, more details can be helpful later on.

Cash receipts can be computer printed, handwritten, or digital. What’s most important is that they contain a clear record of key transaction details.

What are cash receipts used for?

Cash receipts are used to create an official record of a cash-based transaction. They may also be used when payment is made via check or store credit. But, as the name implies, you’re most likely to see them when a transaction uses actual cash.

To better understand how they work, here are two examples:

Purchase Transaction

Let’s say your business makes hand-made crafts to sell online. You like to buy supplies from a local vendor that works as a cash-only seller. Every time you make a purchase, it’s crucial to get a cash receipt to record what you spent on supplies. These records will come in handy later on when you’re reconciling your accounting records and may be important if there are any questions about your taxes.

Sale Transaction

Pat lives on a large property with a small orchard and likes to sell organically grown, local produce at weekend farmer’s markets in the area. Pat makes most sales using a mobile debit or credit card reader, but many customers prefer to buy in cash. Pat uses a tablet-based digital cash register to track cash-based sales to understand which products are performing well and how many were sold.

Tip: Sales receipts are helpful for maintaining strong internal controls when you have employees.

How to use cash receipts

Cash receipts play a critical role in business bookkeeping and taxes. It’s necessary to track every transaction and dollar that goes in and out of your business, both for tax reporting purposes and making the best financial decisions for your business. Follow these steps to use cash receipts as a seller:

  1. Generate a cash transaction: First, your business must make a sale where the customer wants to pay with cash.

  2. Create a cash receipt: When the sale occurs, create the cash receipt in your sales system. If you don’t have one, it’s okay to create a sales receipt by hand. It doesn’t have to use a fancy form, but branded receipts make your business look more professional. Provide a copy to the customer and keep a copy for your business. If the customer has paid using a check (remember, those count as cash for these purposes), be sure to note the check number on your copy of the sales receipt.

  3. Enter the receipt in your bookkeeping system: If it doesn’t happen automatically, you’ll have to type the receipt details into your bookkeeping and accounting system so you can create accurate financial reports.

  4. Deposit your cash payments: Make sure your bank deposit slip amount matches your cash receipts journal (more on this in the next section). Hang on to your deposit receipts in case of any discrepancies.

If you use a point-of-sale (POS) system, your cash receipts may be recorded without having to do any additional work. Companies that frequently make cash sales and don’t use a cash register should consider keeping a cash receipts journal to ensure they don’t miss recording a sale.

How to manage a cash receipts journal

A cash receipts journal is a booklet, usually a physical document, that helps business owners and managers track cash transactions in one centralized place. This makes it easier to stay organized when making sales and moving them over to your accounting system.

A cash receipts journal might look like a check register with a line for each transaction. Some businesses use receipt journals that create an original and carbon copy of a paper receipt, so the customer and business get copies of the sales receipt.

Cash receipts are added to your books using a journal entry on your general ledger in your accounting records. These are the transactions you would record for a $100 sale:

Cash Receipts Journal

Date Customer Item Quantity Price Total Cash Paid
6/1/2022 Company X Widget #2 5 $20 $100 $100

Accounting Records

Date General Ledger Account Debits Credits
6/1/2022 Cash Receipts $50
6/1/2022 Cash Sales $50

For a cash payment on a past sale made on credit, you would record a transaction to lower your accounts receivable balance and increase your cash account. In the example above, you would swap Accounts Receivable for Cash Sales. This is an important distinction on your balance sheet.

How Bench can help

Do these ledger logs look like Greek to you? Or are you too busy running your business operations to worry about updating your accounting records?

In order to maintain a balanced set of books, you need to account for every dollar that goes through your business. If any cash transactions are missing, your bookkeeping will be incomplete, and the IRS can come knocking.

With Bench, you have a personal bookkeeper setting up monthly review calls to go over your financial reporting and ensure everything is up-to-date. Not a single penny will slip by our eagle-eyed team as they keep your business primed for tax filing, cash flow management, investment audits, and beyond. Learn more.

Benefits of tracking cash receipts

While creating and tracking cash receipts takes some effort, there’s a big payoff. Here are some of the most significant benefits of tracking cash receipts:

  • Proof of sale: The first benefit of tracking cash receipts is having proof of a sale. If there’s a dispute with the customer or a refund, having a record of past cash purchases may be very helpful.

  • Accurate accounting records: Accurate accounting records help you make sound business decisions. They are also needed to generate an accurate tax return, which is required by law. Without cash receipts, you could under-report sales, which would lower your taxes and get you in trouble with the government, or you could under-report expenses, which would mean over-paying your taxes.

  • Evidence if audited: If you wind up on the wrong side of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit, you’ll be glad you have detailed records. You may need to provide your receipts as evidence that your taxes are correct in this situation.

The bottom line on cash receipts

Accurate and complete accounting records are not simply a benefit for your business. They’re effectively required by law, as you need financial records to put together an accurate tax return every year. If you’re not already in the habit of keeping and creating cash receipts, it’s time to get started.

With the benefit of improved records from cash receipts, you’ll have accurate financial reports to make the best decisions for helping your business grow, and you’ll have everything you need when tax season comes around. If your business uses cash, cash receipts are not optional. They’re an essential part of doing business.

What's Bench?

We're an online bookkeeping service powered by real humans. Bench gives you a dedicated bookkeeper supported by a team of knowledgeable small business experts. We’re here to take the guesswork out of running your own business—for good. Your bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. Get started with a free month of bookkeeping.


This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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