Pet food, lottery tickets among most unusual items submitted on expense reports: Survey

Family vacation costs, cosmetic surgery also make the list
||Last Updated: 01/23/2012

Costs for a family vacation, wedding anniversary dinner and pet food are items you'd expect to see on personal credit card statements — but they've also appeared on employee expense reports, according to a new survey by Robert Half Management Resources.

The 1,600 CFOs interviewed from Canada and the United States were asked to name the most unusual things they've seen employees include in expense reports. Here are a few of the most questionable items:

•cosmetic surgery
•lottery tickets
•pet food
•a trailer rental for a family reunion
•$12,000 for a family trip
•a speeding ticket
•a teepee
•a fine for crashing into a toll booth.

Gadget, leisure and hobby expenses also made the list:

•movie tickets
•hotel charge for viewing adult movies
•day at the spa
•a golf trip for the employee and his three friends
•video game console.

"Although these examples seem unusual and humorous, this issue can be quite serious and affect the organization’s bottom line," said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources. "Employees who are unsure whether or not to expense an item should take the initiative to ask before including it in the report. Companies can also assist employees with this by frequently clarifying policies, making sure they are easy to locate and communicating any changes to avoid misunderstandings."

Personal expenditures were commonly cited by executives as questionable, including:

grocery receipts
•replacement cost for a suit the employee lost on his own
•pair of socks
•toilet paper
•hot tub supplies
•golf clubs
•expensive lunch for the employee, without clients.

Expenses covering the cost of celebrations not related to the office also garnered surprise, including:

•flowers the employee bought for his wife
•expenses for his son's birthday party
•wedding anniversary dinner.

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