Financial Executives Cite Most Unusual Expense Report Items

Unusual Expense Report Items

As the calendar turns, accounting and finance executives must be hoping employees have turned the page on the items they try to bill to the company. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, chief financial officers cited the most unusual items they’ve seen on expense reports, and their responses ranged from the personal and familial to the mundane – and, of course, a pay-per-view charge.

Below is a sampling of what CFOs have watched come across their desks in expense reports:

  • "Cosmetic surgery"
  • "Pet food"
  • "A trailer rental for a family reunion"
  • "A speeding ticket"
  • "A fine for crashing into a toll booth"
  • "A person lost his personal cell phone somewhere in the office, so he submitted the cost of a new one"
  • "Pair of socks"
  • "Toilet paper"
  • "Flowers the employee bought for his wife"
  • "Hotel charge for viewing adult movies"

Some of the items are humorous and even a little surprising, but the issue is a serious one. Companies need to carefully monitor their costs, including what is expensed.

Managers must clearly communicate to staff the organization’s policies on expense reports and ensure this information is easy to find. When costs raise a red flag, address it with the individual immediately to avoid future inappropriate submissions. Employers may find it is the result of a misunderstanding, but they also may reveal a larger problem.

Employees, in turn, need to exercise good judgment. If you’re unsure whether something should be expensed, review your company’s policy or talk to your manager before submitting your request.

Finally, double-check your past expense reports. Said one financial executive in the survey, "The most unusual thing I saw was a submission for something that had already been expensed and reimbursed."

What is the most unusual item you’ve seen someone try to expense?