The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

This Receipt Template Can Prevent Financial Fiascos

A customer looking over a hand-written receipt as she balances her budget.

The term “receipt” is so widely used these days, you may not think about what constitutes a receipt, or if there are even legal requirements. Furthermore, with advanced bookkeeping software, most receipts we get for our purchases are automatically generated — business owners don’t have to think about what to include on receipts. Who needs a receipt template?

Maybe your power goes out in the middle of a sale, or you’re making sales off-site without a way to generate receipts. Regardless of the specific reason, it’s important to know the significance and legal requirements of sales receipts outlined by the IRS.

What Is a Receipt?

A receipt is simply proof that a person gave something of value in exchange for something else of value. A receipt can take many forms and should be given for any purchase, rent payment, or even donations to charity. Avoid a common mistake and remember a receipt is different from an invoice, which is issued before payment is made. Simple receipt templates are widely available and included at the end of this article.

Why Keep Receipts?

Businesses should keep receipts for their own purchases and copies of receipts they issue to customers. The IRS has clear recordkeeping requirements that outline what sorts of receipts should be kept. It’s important to keep receipts to avoid lengthy disputes with vendors, customers, or audit issues with the IRS. In many cases, bank statements or cleared checks are not enough for proof of purchases — only a valid receipt will do.

What Are the Legal Requirements for Receipts?

Yes, there are legal requirements for what should show up on a receipt, so whether you’re making your own receipt template or downloading one, make sure to meet the requirements.

Business Receipt Requirements

States may have their own requirements in their business regulations. For instance, New York’s requirements for business receipts are slightly more detailed than federal requirements by the IRS.

Valid receipts should include five elements:

  1. Name of vendor (e.g., the business name)
  2. Transaction date (when payment was made)
  3. Detailed description of what was bought
  4. Amount paid
  5. Form of payment (e.g., cash, check, or credit card)

Rent Receipt Requirements

Rent receipts are slightly different from business receipts in that they are specifically for payment for living arrangements and should be signed by the landlord or property owner. Rent receipts should include the following:

  • Tenant name and contact information
  • Landlord or property owner name and signature
  • Address of unit
  • Rent amount and how often it’s paid (e.g., monthly)
  • Amount paid
  • Date payment was made
  • Method of payment
  • Any remaining payment owed, if applicable

Donation Receipt Requirements

Have you ever dropped off clothing or books to a donation center? The clerk may have quickly generated a donation receipt for you in case you want to deduct the amount of the donation from your taxes. It’s sometimes up to you to estimate the value of what you’ve donated and add it to the receipt. For donations estimated at $250 in value or more, the IRS requires certain information to be on a receipt:

  • Name of charitable organization
  • Amount of money donated
  • Description of non-monetary donation
  • Statement that the donation was charitable (i.e., the organization did not provide anything in return)
  • Estimate of the value of non-monetary donation
  • Statement that anything received from the organization was intangible

Credit Card Information on Receipts

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) rules are extremely important for businesses to follow, especially in cases where a customer pays for goods or services using a credit or debit card. The federal law requires that sales receipts only display a maximum of the last five digits of a customer’s credit card number and the receipt can’t display the card’s expiration date.

Truncating credit and debit card numbers in this way helps ensure that if a receipt is lost or thrown away, others can’t use that customer’s credit card information. Keep in mind that you’re required to protect any credit card information you retain, whether it’s on a computer database or kept as a hard copy.

Free Receipt Templates

It’s smart to have a backup of any receipt template on hand in the event software goes down. Download one or all of the following or search for an online receipt template that fulfills your specific business needs, and never enter into a transaction unprepared again.

Business Receipt

Date:_______________Unique Receipt No.:_______________

Business Name: ________________________________________________________

Payment for: ___________________________________________________________

Amount Received: _______________Amount Owed: ______________

Payment Method: [ ] Cash [ ] Check [ ] Credit Card

Check No.: __________Credit Card No. (last 5 digits): __________

Clerk Signature: ____________________Customer Signature: _________________

Rent Receipt

Date: _______________Unique Receipt No.:________________

Tenant Name: _________________________________________________________

Unit Address:_________________________________________________________

Rent Amount: ______________Time Period (e.g., Monthly):________________

Amt Rcvd:______________Payment Method: [ ] Cash [ ] Check [ ] Credit Card

Amt Owed:______________Check No.: __________ CC Last 5 digits: __________

For Period:____________ to ____________Rcvd by: _________________________

Donation Receipt

Organization Name: _______________________________________________________

Donor Name: ____________________________________________________________

Type of Contribution: [ ] Cash [ ] Check [ ] Non-monetary Donation

Amount of Monetary Donation: $____________________________

Description of Non-Monetary Donation: ________________________________________

Estimated Value of Donation: $ _________________________

Please check all that apply:

[ ] No goods or services were provided in exchange for my contribution.

[ ] An estimated value of $_______ worth of goods or services were provided in exchange for my contribution.

[ ] Any goods or services exchanged for my contribution were in the form of intangible religious benefits.

Donor Signature: _____________________________ Date: ________________________

Get Help With More Than Just Receipt Templates

Now you know more about recordkeeping, but what about your other business needs? Get your questions answered and seek advice from a business attorney in your area.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Recent Business Law Articles