Friday, February 1, 2019

Just Expense It- Not!

As many of you draw closer that three-month ordeal known as filing season, I like to take this opportunity to bring a somewhat lighter note before CPAs and EAs across the country begin routinely logging 70-80-hour weeks.

And that is highlighting the most “creative” expenses that employees attempt to push through their accounts payable departments.

This has been an annual undertaking for me ever since one of my former employers immediately dismissed a woman for attempting to legitimize a fur coat on an expense report.

Trust me I can’t make that up.

And to think I was once flagged by a company auditor with a sense of humor surpassed only by an undertaker, for an $8 bottle of cold medicine when I once fell ill during a conference in Chicago.

But on to the topic de jour.

AppZen, a vendor of expense management software has compiled a recent report gleaned from over 1,000 businesses across all fields stating that companies are now more closely auditing employee expense report claims and are becoming increasingly diligent in rejecting some of the more nebulous charges.

We’ve all heard or read stories of some of the wilder claims, like the worker who tried to convince management that his visits to a local strip club were necessary “therapy” for his anxiety, or the employee who lost thousands on slow thoroughbreds at the racetrack.

Not surprisingly, the AppZen report found that expense approval averages can differ widely. While 46 percent of companies reimburse employees for gifts and 39 percent do so for golf, only 16 percent of businesses reimburse employees for room service and 15 percent for the mini bar.

The mini-bar allowance would have come in handy about 10 years ago when a colleague confided to me that while ahem, “entertaining” a sales rep, his mini-bar bill somehow ballooned to $400. He later did rationalize the incident by claiming it was well worth it.

Meanwhile, 41 percent of companies reimburse employees for cell phone expenses, 24 percent for car washes, and 19 percent for clothing – I’ll assume fur coats notwithstanding.

But keeping in the comedic mood below are five of the more absurd attempts to legitimize expenses over the course of the year:

Months of Powerball tickets
The fine for crashing their automobile into a toll booth
Renting a llama for a family photo shoot
Charges for 200 adult movies in a hotel room
A blow-up doll – I’m not even going there.

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