This has been bugging me for some time now.
Almost all the big retailers, from gasoline stations, credit card POS machines to department stores issue “official” receipts by printing on thermal paper.
From experience, and of course public knowledge, the writing on this kind of paper easily smears and after some time, completely disappears.
To preserve such receipts, some companies or professionals who claim deductions preserve such receipts through photocopying.
But this would violate the “best evidence rule” which states that, “When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself.” (Section 3, Rule 130, Rules of Evidence) The Bureau of Internal Revenue, on an assessment audit, may therefore disallow copies of receipts such as these, which is unfair to the claimant.
On the part of the issuer of such receipts, I’m pretty sure they keep their copies of such receipts in a more permanent form, since I’ve seen their cash registers that use a dot-matrix/thermal paper combination printers. You get the thermal “official receipt” while they preserve their copy electronically or through a record printed on dot-matrix printers.
Does the BIR think that only those who print receipts from thermal paper have the sole and exclusive right to claim deductions? The BIR seems to forget that professionals especially rely on deductions (such as for gasoline, etc.) for expenses to correctly compute their taxable incomes. They could not claim such deductions when they can only produce blank sheets of thermal paper to support their claims.
For now, the only sure remedy of the poor claimant is to demand an “official receipt” that is not printed on thermal paper. But to do that would consume a lot of time. And if you’re dealing with a large company, add a multiplier effect and that would translate to a lot of wasted man-hours.
Some retailers even may argue that the thermal paper receipts issued by their POS machines have been BIR-approved, hence already “official.” But to the poor claimant, they’re just trash once the writing comes off.
As I see it, the BIR should recognize and be definite on this issue.
It could do any of the following:
1.) Forbid “official receipts” issued out of thermal paper or ban it altogether;
2.) Rule that such receipts are not official (thereby entitling the claimant to an “official receipt” but then again, time-consuming); or
3.) Officially recognize photocopies thereof also as “official” copies (with some procedures for verifying authenticity).
Just my two cents on the matter. Any tax lawyer or accountant out there?