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A receipt is a written acknowledgment that a specified article or payment has been received. A receipt records the sale of goods or provision of a service. If the recipient of the payment is required to collect a tax from the customer, the amount collected would also be included on the receipt and the amount would be deemed to have been collected on behalf of the relevant government tax authority. In many countries a retailer is required to include the tax and similar amounts in the price of goods sold. Similarly, amounts may be deducted from amounts payable, as in the case of wage withholding taxes. On the other hand, tips or other gratuities given by a customer, for example in a restaurant, would not form part of the payment amount. In some countries, it is obligatory for a business to provide a receipt to a customer confirming the details of a transaction. In most cases the recipient of money provides the receipt, but in some cases the receipt is generated by the payer, as in the case of goods returned to a store for a refund. A receipt is not the same as an invoice.
However, there is usually no set form for a receipt, such as a requirement that it be machine generated. Many point-of-sale terminals or cash registers automatically produce receipts. Receipts may also be generated by accounting systems, be manually produced or generated electronically, for example if there is not a face-to-face transaction. To reduce the cost of postage and processing, many businesses do not mail receipts to customers, unless specifically requested or required by law; some transmitting them electronically. Others, to reduce time and paper, may endorse an invoice, account or statement as "Paid".
The custom in most shops at the point of sale is for a salesperson to scan or in some way record the price of a customer's proposed purchases, including tax, discounts and other adjustments. In traditional situations and still in some family businesses today, the salesperson would then show the customer the summary, the invoice, for their agreement; but most shops today bypass this stage. The practice of presenting an invoice is most common in restaurants where a "bill" is presented after a meal. The salesperson would indicate to the customer the total amount payable, and the customer would indicate the proposed method of payment of the amount. After processing the payment, the salesperson would then generate in the one document an invoice and receipt. If payment was made by a payment card, a payment record would also be generated. These are the printed record of the transaction, and are legal documents. A copy of these documents would be handed to the customer. In many countries a retailer is under a legal obligation to provide a receipt to a customer which shows the details of a transaction and the shop and other information, so that the tax authority can check that sales are not being hidden. The document may also include messages from the retailer, warranty or return details, special offers, advertisements or coupons, but these are merely promotional and not part of the formal receipt.
Receipts may also be provided for non-retail operations such as banking transactions.
Shops that use barcode readers may generate receipts with a barcode of the receipt identification number, that enables a salesperson to scan the barcode and quickly retrieve the details of the original transaction, for example if a customer seeks to return or exchange goods or there is some other query.
If linked to a customer shop account, some retailers' point-of-sale systems also allow the salesperson to see a complete record of the customer's buying history.
Hand-written or hand-completed receipts are more often used for infrequent or irregular transactions, or for transactions conducted in the absence of a terminal, cash register or point of sale: for example, as provided by a landlord to a tenant to record the receipt of rent. It can also be required when company representatives buy goods, because tax deduction rules might require hand signed receipts.
Organizing receipts and similar financial documents is a multimillion-dollar industry in the United States. Consumers can use desktop and online software to organize electronic receipts; sometimes, receipts are sent digitally from point of sale devices to consumers. The growing trend of digital receipts has led to the launch of new businesses focused on digital receipt management.
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