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Expense reports play a vital role in managing business finances and ensuring accurate reimbursement for expenses incurred. In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for creating an expense report, highlighting its purpose, value, and how it can benefit businesses.

Whether you’re a small business owner or an employee responsible for submitting expense reports, understanding these practices will help you streamline the process and stay organized.

What is an expense report?

An expense report is a document that details the expenses an individual or employee has incurred on behalf of a company. It serves as a record of business-related expenditures, allowing for reimbursement and proper accounting.

The primary purpose of an expense report is to maintain transparency and accountability in financial transactions. While commonly associated with employee reimbursements, expense reports can also be used for other purposes, such as tracking departmental expenses or specific client-related costs.

The Value of Expense Reports

Expense reports offer several benefits to businesses, making them an essential part of financial management. First, they facilitate the reimbursement process, helping ensure employees are fairly compensated for their out-of-pocket expenses. Second, expense reports help monitor cash flow by providing insights into where money is being spent and allowing businesses to budget accordingly.

Lastly, expense reports enable businesses to track specific expenses related to departments, specific products, or clients, allowing for better financial analysis and decision-making. You can also get a good idea of your LLC’s tax write-offs through your expense reports.

How to Create an Expense Report

Every business’s expense report will look a little different, but here are a few basic steps you can follow to get started. 

  1. Use an expense report template: Utilizing a standardized expense report template helps maintain consistency and ensures all necessary information is included.
  2. Determine what expenses to report: Clearly define which expenses are eligible for reimbursement, following your company’s reimbursement policy and guidelines.
  3. List the expenses: Create a comprehensive list of all expenses incurred, including date, description, and amount.
  4. Add specifics about each expense: Provide additional details for each expense, such as the purpose of the expenditure and any relevant supporting documentation.
  5. Implement good practices for expense reports: Establish clear guidelines and policies to promote accurate and efficient expense reporting within your organization.
  6. Establish reimbursement policies and deadlines: Define deadlines for submitting expense reports to avoid delays and ensure timely reimbursements.
  7. Meet IRS standards for accountable plans: Familiarize yourself with the IRS guidelines for accountable plans to maintain compliance with tax regulations.
  8. Require receipts: Encourage employees to submit receipts for all expenses, as they serve as evidence and help prevent fraud or misreporting.
  9. Audit expenses: Regularly review expense reports to identify any discrepancies or potential issues, helping ensure compliance and accuracy.

Many small business owners find it helpful to use software (like ours) to streamline the process of creating expense reports, calculating tax write-offs, and more. These tools can help you stay organized, save time, and ensure compliance with financial regulations.

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At ZenBusiness, we understand the challenges businesses face. Our services can assist you in various aspects of business operations. With our LLC formation service, you can start your business for $0, with minimal hassle. Additionally, our Money app provides a seamless way to manage your business finances, offering convenient features and tools. Let ZenBusiness be your trusted partner in achieving success.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

Expense Report FAQs

  • When presenting an expense report, it’s important to provide a clear and organized document that accurately reflects your expenses. Start by using an expense report template, which typically includes sections for dates, descriptions, amounts, and any supporting documentation, such as receipts. Ensure that each expense is listed separately, making it easy to review and approve. Consider including a summary or overview section at the beginning, highlighting key totals or categorizing expenses for easy analysis. Present the report in a digital format, such as a PDF, to maintain professionalism and make it easily shareable with relevant stakeholders.

  • Expense reports are typically filled out by employees who have incurred business-related expenses. It is the responsibility of the individual who made the expenditure to accurately record and report the expenses. Employees should follow their company’s reimbursement policies and guidelines when filling out expense reports. It’s essential to provide detailed information, including receipts and supporting documentation, to ensure transparency and facilitate the reimbursement process. Depending on the company’s internal procedures, employees may submit their expense reports directly to their managers, the accounting department, or through an automated expense management system.

  • A monthly expense report should include the date and timeframe covered, categorized expenses, detailed descriptions, amounts, supporting documentation, totals for each category, and a grand total for the period. This report enables businesses to track and analyze expenditures, make informed financial decisions, and ensure transparency in their monthly financial records and tax deductions.

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