14+ Expense Reports Examples & Templates
Expense reports can help you track the expenses during the course of performing necessary job functions, such as charges for gas, meals, parking, or lodging, which you can’t expect employees to pay themselves.
Since these expenses can’t be helped, you need to make sure that you have your employees list these expenditures on an expense report form.
Elements of a Good Expense Report
To stay accurate and compliant, create a business expense report policy. Employees should follow procedures in the policy when requesting for reimbursements. The policy should include the following elements:
1. Expense Guidelines: Expense guidelines map out what purchase you will and will not reimburse. And, it explains the situations where an employee reimbursement is necessary. The expense guidelines section gives a clear picture of what qualifies for reimbursement.
2. Time Frame: The time frame shows how soon employees need to submit expense reports, and it explains how soon you will reimburse employees after they submit reports. For an effective reimbursement process, keep expense reporting moving. The faster you receive the reports, the healthier your small business cash flow. And, employees want to be reimbursed quickly. Include reasonable timelines in your policy to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Pre-Approval: For large expenses, have employees request your approval before they purchase items. That way, you can monitor reimbursements and make sure employees don’t overspend. For example, you might want to approve the amount of a plane ticket since they are generally expensive. Have employees attach approvals to their expense reports. You may also see expense receipts.
4. Supporting Documents: For a successful expense reporting system, good records are key. Employees should keep supporting documents for purchases, such as business receipts and invoices. Have them write notes on receipts, like their name and the reason for the expense or job number. When an employee submits an expenditure report, they should attach supporting documents to it.
14+ Expense Report Examples & Templates
Annual Expense Report Template
Business Expense Report Template
Expense Report Template
Travel Expense Report Template
Monthly Expense Report Template
Project Expense Report Template
Employee Expense Report Template
Contractor Expense Report Template
Vehicle Expense Report Template
Daycare Expense Report Template
Guide to Expense Reports
Airfare Expense Report
Garden Club Expense Report
Expense Report Template
Auto Expense Report
Simple Tips for a Good Expense Report Process
Below, you will find several tips that could help make submitting, approving, and paying expenses more efficient, more appropriate, and less frustrating.
1. Start with a firm, fair expenses policy:
Having a fair, clear, and unambiguous policy is the start of any best-practice expenses process. Moreover, companies have an obligation to create a policy to demonstrate to themselves that the expenses being reimbursed are genuine and that they are not reimbursing individuals for inappropriate or personal expenses.
All too often, an expenses policy is an afterthought that may not be properly aligned with the business. It does the job, but it may not be appropriate, clear, or fair. Ideally, employees shouldn’t have to read a 30-page document before they book a train ticket. The key is to review and update your policy regularly, and then publicize it internally and explain it clearly.
2. Keep the processes simple:
When it comes to expenses, the old acronym KISS (Keep It Straight and Simple) applies. Keep your process straight and simple and people are more likely to comply. If your systems are bogged down with layers of administrative complexity such as triplicate forms and M16 security clearance to spend a penny, it’ll have a demoralizing effect on your people.
Worst of all, having too much complexity doesn’t mean you won’t avoid serious mistakes. In fact, it makes serious mistakes more likely. By making the process too complicated, companies also run the risk that people may exaggerate their expenses to compensate for the pain of claiming them in the first place. You may also see free report examples.
3. Collect the right amount of relevant information:
When it comes to the details, the secret lies in the balance. Don’t ask for War and Peace. But, having said that, don’t simply accept the price and date for each expense item either. Companies don’t ask for receipts because they don’t trust their employees, but because the finance team knows that receipts are required to prove the expenditures.
Capturing relevant expenses information will help to ensure that there are no delays in administration and help avoid potential problems with compliance later on. Having the right amount of information also means that you will reach the minimum requirement for these proceedings. You may also see report form examples.
4. Submit and approve expenses on time:
Best practice means having a clear, published time frame for submitting expenses. It’s important to do the right thing by your employees and pay them as quickly as you can, in line with your published payment timetable. But it’s also important to make sure that they are submitting their expenses within a subscribed time frame. When employees delay claiming their expenses for months, not only does it hurt their pockets, it can also cause cash-flow challenges for the business and inevitable accounting nightmares.
5. Check expenses and make managers accountable:
Whilst we advocate swift sign-off of expenses, it’s also crucial that managers have the courage to push back on inappropriate or non-compliant expense claims. Best practice means making authorizers accountable for the application and enforcement of your policy. By engaging with the management team and explaining the rationale behind the policy, it is possible to get their buy-in. Not only can this drive compliance, but it can also promote behavioral change which leads to a long-term cultural shift in the long run.
6. Make it easy to submit and approve expenses away from the office:
In these days of mobile and global staff workforces, trying to catch up with someone to sign off your expenses is getting harder and harder. If people are to wait and constantly chase their management, it can lead to delays and frustration. You should develop a process where your managers can check and sign-off on expenses while they are out of the office. It helps if you can use a tool that allows approvers to say yes even while they are out and about, so they can sign off claims anytime and anywhere.
7. Audit your processes and receipts:
How good is your end-to-end expenses process? When was the last time you conducted an audit? Some see expenses auditing as an unwelcome intrusion. On the contrary, auditing can actually make your expenses procedures work better. Auditing can help iron out the glitches in your operational procedures and help to maintain a fair system. Good auditing actually makes for good practice, and a best practice process should always include receipt validation and auditing. You may also see business reports.
How to Create an Expense Report
Most companies have a certain procedure for reporting expenses, which usually entails filling out an expense report. Here’s how to do it:
- Review your company’s policy for filling out expense reports. Review the company manual or travel policy guide. Call the human resources department if you do not fully understand expense report procedures or talk to your supervisor.
- Obtain a copy of the expense report statement or log in to the online version if your company uses such expense reports. Review the expense report before filling it out.
- Take out all of your receipts from your business trip. Arrange the receipts according to types of expenses. Get your meal receipts out, for example, and then arrange them by date.
- Print or type your name, date, and the purpose of your trip. Include a specific week when the expenditures occurred. Use the “week ending” date, or record each day specifically, depending on the format of the receipt.
- Take a pen and note all personal expenses on your receipts. Subtract all personal expenses from any business expenditures on the receipt. Record the difference on the receipt and, subsequently, use that total for reporting purposes. You may also see expense sheets.
- Record your airfare, car mileage, automobile rental, parking meal, toll, and other expenditures on the specific day they occurred. Fill out all expenses until you have gone through all of your receipts. Provide full explanations for any expenses that you need to write in on the expense report.
- Add the totals for each day and record them on the expense report. Recalculate all totals to ensure accuracy.
- Deduct any money that you received in advance for your business trip.
- Sign and date your expense report. Staple all of your receipts to it. Follow the receipt procedures of your company if you are filling out an electronic expense report.
- Turn your expense report into your supervisor. Give him time to review it. Get your supervisor’s signature.
- Turn the expense report into accounts payable or the specific department that processes all expense reports.
Types of Expense Report Accounts
A business can have expenses that range from payroll to advertising, as well as the myriad expenses that come with producing a product. You can typically classify them into a few broad accounting categories.
1. Operating Expenses:
Essentially, operating expenses are any costs you incur while operating your business not directly attributable to the manufacture of your product. For example, payroll is a common operating expense, as you must pay your employees to help you make or sell your product. Other common examples include advertising, computer expenses, packaging materials, maintenance costs, utility expenses, and the cost of your accountant or attorney. On an expense report, operating expenses are often subdivided into categories such as fixed and variable expenses, or into selling, general and administrative expenses.
2. Costs of Goods Sold:
The cost of goods sold category includes all of the expenses your business incurs in the production of goods. For example, if you pay to acquire raw materials used to create a product that your business intends to sell, that constitutes part of your cost of goods sold. The cost of goods sold calculation can get tricky because it does include the cost of labor used in the direct production of your product.
3. Taxes and Other Financial Expenses:
Taxes have their own accounting category, and depending on the type and location of your business, it can be an extensive one. Your business might owe taxes on the federal, state, and local levels. If you have employees, also include payroll taxes in this category. If your company sells a product, you might owe sales and excise taxes that you should have collected from your customers. If your business owns a property, any property taxes you pay also fall into this classification. You may also see consulting reports.
4. Other Nonoperating Expenses:
Other nonoperating expenses is a catch-all category for common expenses that do not fall into any other clearly defined category. Capital expenditures, such as the money you use to buy your office building, are considered nonoperating expenses, as are any interest payments you make on company loans. If you take a loss on the sale of any business properties, that falls under the heading of a nonoperating expense. Litigation costs are also in this category.
Managing every single dollar that leaves your hands for the small yet important expenses by your employees is an important part of running a business. Make your job easier with an expense report.