How to use expense reimbursement forms in your office

How to use expense reimbursement forms in your office

Miscommunications regarding employee expense reimbursements can cause problems for small businesses in more ways than one.

Not properly setting guidelines for employee expenditures can lead to blown budgets and hard feelings when staff members aren’t paid what they feel is due.

Creating a simple form that includes pre- and post-spending approval will keep everyone on the same page and your office running smoothly.

  1. Create a dual form for expense reimbursements

    An expense reimbursement form can include a request for expenses that’s pre-approved by a manager, and a request for reimbursement payment after the employee spends the money.

    You can use separate forms, but your bookkeeper will need to keep track of both and make sure they are filed properly for quick reference.

    Pre-spending approval portion of expense reimbursement

    When an employee wants to make an expenditure or is requested to do so, make sure your business and the employee are on the same page.

    For example, if an employee is traveling for the company, the employee should fill out a form with her anticipated expenses. These might include:

    • Airfare
    • Car rental
    • Hotel
    • Conference registration
    • Meals
    • Parking
    • Tips

    Some of these expenses can be estimated fairly accurately in advance, such as the airfare and hotel room. For other expenses, such as meals, a pre-spending approval form can include a per diem amount.

    After the employee submits the form to her manager, the manager approves the anticipated expenses and both parties sign and date the document.

    Reimbursement approval portion

    When the employee returns from her trip, she should fill in the second part of her expense approval form, which contains the actual amounts she spent.

    The manager reviews the expenses and then approves them, signing and dating the form.

    Once both sections of the form have been completed, the employee turns in the expense form to accounting for reimbursement.

  2. Set spending and reporting guidelines

    Keep managers and employees on the same page by providing a short expense reimbursement policy document that explains how expenses are covered (such as a meal per diem), what expenses aren’t covered and how long it will take to be reimbursed.

    You might set a requirement that employees provide receipts, not credit card statements. While credit card statements are more convenient for employees because they can list all of the expenses in one place, they can hide overspending.

    For example, a credit card statement only shows that Lysa spent $113.15 at the Westwind Hotel. A receipt would show that she booked a room, but also took items from the mini-bar and watched a premium movie.

  3. Try Excel forms

    If you use Microsoft Office, Excel provides a variety of pre-made expense reimbursement forms and templates you can use as-is or customize them for your office needs. You can start with this expense report form and make it your own.