How long to keep an invoice?
In this new monthly column, afpop, Portugal’s largest foreign residents’ association, aims to answer some of the most frequently-asked questions by members.
Q: We have a drawer with invoices and receipts in and we aren’t sure what we can throw out and what may be useful in future. Are there any rules on how long to keep invoices and receipts?
afpop answers: Whether you keep them for guarantees, claims or proof of payment, invoices and receipts can have different purposes and it’s important to know how to manage them.
Not only are invoices the only way to avoid being charged with bills that may have already been paid, but they also provide evidence for guarantees. There is a minimum advisable term to keep invoices that varies from six months to 10 years, depending on the type of product or service.
1. Six months: All invoices related to food, lodging, gas, water, electricity, internet and telephone should be kept for half a year.
2. One year: Whenever you have work done at home, you should keep all invoices associated with the services of the plumber, electrician, mason or painter for one year. The year during which you keep the invoice is equivalent to the time you have to submit a claim to the person who did the service, if there is an anomaly in the work performed.
3. Two years: Whenever you buy appliances or furniture, you should keep the bill for two years. In this type of expenditure, the invoice must be kept for the same time as the guarantee of the product concerned, usually 24 months.
4. Three years: Invoices for examinations, tests or other medical services should be kept for three years. This is the deadline for public institutions to charge you for any missed payments. After that period, the right to demand such money elapses and it is no longer your responsibility that the payment of the debt has been made.
5. Four years: IRS and e-fatura deductions: If you have expenses that you plan to include in the IRS, such as education or health expenses, or that may be included in the e-fatura portal, such as food or accommodation expenses, you must keep those invoices for four years to avoid problems with a possible tax inspection. Accountants advise that you keep receipts at least until the confirmation of the tax to pay or rebate to receive. This also applies to the payment of different types of taxes, such as the single travel tax, that Finanças may require proof of payment for a period of up to four years.
6. Five years: Invoices of expenses associated with the home, such as payment of condominium or rent, or contracting services, should be kept for five years.
7. Companies: Due to changes made to the law in 2014, companies must now keep with them all documents supporting their IRC payments for a period of 12 years (increased from 10 years previously). For any expenses that are used to calculate IVA, the respective invoices must be kept for 10 years.
For more information about the benefits of membership of afpop, the largest association for foreign residents in Portugal, you can visit the website www.afpop.com, email email@example.com or call the afpop office on 282 458 509 or 938 252 100. Please remember to quote the Algarve Resident when contacting them.