Why do cash receipts have three different dates?

The different dates on a cash receipt are designed to give you maximum flexibility. Use the document date to record the date on the check (or other payment) you received. The distribution date determines the date the cash will be posted to the general ledger. And if you want the cash to be applied to open invoices on a date different from the distribution date, use the application date for that. In most cases, however, the distribution date and application date will be the same.