8 Easy Ways to Keep Tax Write Off Expenses Organized When Traveling

by Carrie Thompson on January 12, 2009

by Carrie Thompson | January 12th, 2009  

Keeping track of your expenses while traveling can be challenging at best, a trip through the furthest reaches of hell at worst. Those of us who frequently travel for work know the nightmare that is pocketing your receipts and inputing them in to some lame Excel spreadsheet to get reimbursed from your employer. When you have to keep up with them for AN ENTIRE YEAR, the task may seem impossible. Luckily, there are heaps of crafty minds out there working to make the world a more organized (and tax friendly) place.

Unfortunately, the IRS may eventually want to see those receipts. I can’t recommend putting them in the infamous “File 9,” but at least you can put them out of your mind.

Validas Cell Phone Bill Organizer: If your employer isn’t paying your cell phone bill and you frequently make or receive business calls while in the office, this baby can help you organize your cellular bills for either expense reports or tax purposes. Very handy for the 82% of us in the United States who have mobile phones.

Evernote: Evernote is a handy service for those of us who like technology as a means to track…well, everything. This service allows you to add anything your heart desires, from an Excel spreadsheet to a Thunderbird email to a photo snapped from your cell phone all to one searchable database. Take pictures of your receipts and tag them appropriately for tax time.

Smart Phones: Smart phones, like the iPhone, can do everything these days short of making your breakfast. I can, on my 3G, upload heaps of applications that are great tools for tracking expenses and offer tax help. You can include information about purchases on the Calendar application, for those write-offs that don’t require receipts. And if you’re using the phone for work, both the phone and the monthly service may be tax deducible. Sweet, huh?

Accordion Folders: I know, it’s about as old school as you can get, but you really do need to keep your business receipts somewhere. Get an accordion folder with 12 slots and toss your receipts in, organized by month. This is the part that’s really tricky for me, and I’m sure I’ll spend much more time than I should hunting down receipts when tax time comes.

Calendar: I don’t care if you have a phone calendar or a day planner you keep in your briefcase, a calendar is great for those smaller tax write-offs for which you don’t have (or need) a receipt. For example, tips, public transportation, a new (inexpensive) travel alarm clock.

Expensify: Expensify is a business expense tracking tool that may or may not be more trouble than it is worth. You get an Expensify MasterCard that’s linked to your credit card to track your expenses. You can then label your various expenses appropriately.

TaxiCard: The TaxiCard is a reloadable card travelers can utilize to pay for taxi and car service. With the easy online tracking provided, this could be a great tool for transportation write-offs.

ExpenseWire: ExpenseWire is a total solution for expense tracking. You’ll need to get your people (like your accountant) to approve its use, but it can then track your expenses for work, as well as those that may be tax deductable for you.

{ 2 comments }

Derek January 13, 2009 at 3:46 am
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I started using the Neat Receipts scanner last year and have enjoyed using it. It’s small, so I carry it with me on my trips and then scan my receipts daily. The database is the real start of this system. It has text recognition so it can read most of my receipts and automatically categorize them. Later, I can print reports to send to my management and to my customers that want copies of my expenses. A Lot easier than tracking photocopies!

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Mark January 22, 2009 at 10:06 am
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I’m surprised you left out Shoeboxed. They are like the BEST for exactly this. The premise is that you mail your receipts in to them and they scan and organize them for you and you can create expense reports pretty easily as well.

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