Expense Claims: Types, Management, & Best Practices for 2024

By Ashley FerroJune 20, 2024

Managing expense claims can be challenging for both employees and employers.

From lost receipts to slow reimbursements and the need to stay compliant with changing tax regulations, the process can be quite overwhelming.  

Accurate financial records are essential, but the complexity of handling these claims often leads to frustration. 

This article addresses these common issues by exploring the different types of expense claims, offering effective management strategies, and outlining best practices for 2024.  

We aim to help you streamline your employee expense management process, ensuring accuracy, compliance, and a more satisfied workforce. 

What are Expense Claims? 

Expense claims are requests made by employees to get reimbursed for expenses they have personally covered on behalf of their employer.

These expenses typically include employee costs like:  

  • Travel 

  • Accommodation 

  • Meals 

  • Office supplies 

  • Other business-related expenses 

Why are Expense Claims Important? 

Why are Expense Claims ImportantExpense claims are important for several reasons: 

  1. Financial accuracy: They ensure that the company's financial records reflect all business expenses accurately. 

  2. Employee satisfaction: Prompt reimbursement of expenses helps maintain employee morale and trust. 

  3. Regulatory compliance: Properly documented expense claims are necessary for tax compliance and auditing purposes. 

Common Types of Expense Claims 

Understanding the common types of expense claims is essential for both employees and employers to ensure accurate reimbursement and compliance with company policies.  

Common Types of Expense ClaimsHere, we will detail what expenses can be claimed, along with comprehensive explanations and guidelines. 

1. Travel Expenses 

Travel expenses are one of the most common types of expense claims. Employee travel expenses include: 

  • Flights: Costs for business travel, including domestic and international flights. 

  • Accommodation: Expenses for hotel stays or other lodging during business trips. 

  • Meals: Costs for meals consumed while travelling for business purposes. 

  • Ensure that all travel is pre-approved by the employer. 

  • Keep all expense receipts and provide detailed descriptions of the expenses. 

  • Adhere to any company-specific limits on business travel expenses, such as daily allowances. 

2. Office Supplies 

Office supplies are essential for daily operations and can be claimed as business expenses. These typically include: 

  • Stationery: Items like pens, notebooks, and envelopes. 

  • Software: Necessary computer programs and applications for business tasks. 

Guidelines for Claiming These Expenses: 

  • Only claim items that are directly related to your work. 

  • Provide receipts and a clear explanation of why the items were needed. 

3. Meals & Entertainment 

Expenses for meals and entertainment can be claimed under specific circumstances, such as: 

  • Business Meals: Meals with clients or during business travel. 

  • Entertainment: Costs for entertaining clients as part of business development. 

Documentation Requirements: 

  • Keep detailed receipts and note the business purpose of the meal or entertainment. 

  • Include the names of attendees and the context of the meeting or event. 

4. Mileage Reimbursement 

Employees using their personal vehicles for business purposes can claim mileage reimbursement. This includes: 

  • Business Trips: Travelling to meetings, conferences, or other work-related destinations. 

Criteria for Claiming Mileage: 

  • Keep a detailed log of miles driven, including dates, destinations, and business purposes. 

  • Use the company's approved rate for mileage reimbursement to calculate the total amount. 

5. Training & Development 

Investing in professional development is beneficial for both employees and employers. Eligible expenses include: 

  • Courses: Fees for attending relevant courses or workshops. 

  • Certifications: Costs for obtaining professional certifications. 

Benefits of Investing in Employee Development: 

  • Enhances employee skills and knowledge. 

  • Contributes to career growth and job satisfaction. 

  • Provides the company with a more skilled workforce. 

How to Manage Expense Claims 

How to Manage Expense Claims

1. Implement an Expense Policy for Claims 

A clear expense policy is crucial for: 

  • Ensuring consistency and fairness in how expenses are handled. 

  • Providing employees with guidelines on what can be claimed. 

  • Reducing the risk of errors and fraud. 

What Should be Included in an Expense Policy? 

When crafting your expense policy, include the following components: 

  • Purpose & scope: Explain the policy's objectives and to whom it applies. 

  • Detailed guidelines: Provide specific rules for different types of expenses, such as travel, meals, and office supplies. 

  • Reimbursement rates: State any fixed rates for mileage or meal allowances. 

  • Non-reimbursable expenses: List items that are not covered, such as personal expenses. 

  • Documentation requirements: Specify what receipts and supporting documents are needed. 

  • Submission deadlines: Set clear timelines for submitting expense claims. 

  • Approval process: Outline the steps for review and approval of claims. 

2. Submission & Approval Process for Expense Claims 

Managing expense claims efficiently requires a streamlined submission and approval process.

Here’s a typical step-by-step guide to ensure your expense claims are handled smoothly and promptly. 

Step-by-Step Process for Submitting Expense Claims 

Step-by-Step Process for Submitting Expense Claims

  1. Gather receipts: Collect all necessary receipts and documentation for your expenses. 

  2. Complete the expense claim form: Fill out the claim form with detailed information about each expense, including date, amount, and purpose. 

  3. Submit the claim: Submit the completed claim form along with scanned e-receipts or photographed physical receipts to the appropriate department or designated approver. 

  4. Await confirmation: Once submitted, you will receive confirmation that your claim is under review. 

Expense Claim Approval Workflow 

A clear approval workflow ensures that expense claims are processed efficiently and fairly: 

  1. Initial review: The claim is first reviewed by the immediate supervisor or designated approver to check for completeness and adherence to company policies. 

  2. Secondary approval: For larger expenses or specific categories, a secondary approval from a higher-level manager or the finance department might be required. 

  3. Final approval: Once all necessary approvals are obtained, the claim is sent to the finance team for final verification and processing. 

  4. Reimbursement: After the final check, the approved expense claim is reimbursed to the employee, usually through the next payroll cycle or direct deposit. 

Note: Implementing a business expense tracker app can streamline this process, reducing manual effort, speeding up approvals, and ensuring quicker reimbursements. 

How Long Does it Take to Process an Expense Claim? 

The average processing time for expense claims can vary, but typically includes several stages: 

  • Initial submission & review: It usually takes 1-2 business days for the immediate supervisor to review and approve the claim. 

  • Secondary & final approvals: Additional approvals, if required, can take 3-5 business days. 

  • Reimbursement processing: The finance team generally needs 5-7 business days to process the reimbursement. 

However, these timelines can be significantly shortened with an automated expense management solution.

Automated systems streamline each step, reducing manual effort and accelerating the workflow. For instance: 

  • Instant submission & review: Automated systems allow for immediate submission and quicker initial reviews, often within hours rather than days. 

  • Faster approvals: Notifications and automated workflows speed up secondary and final approvals, minimising delays. 

  • Quick reimbursement: Automated processing can reduce the reimbursement time to just a few days, ensuring employees receive their funds promptly. 

Factors affecting processing times include the complexity of the claim, the number of approvals needed, and the efficiency of the expense management system in use.

An automated solution can address these factors by enhancing efficiency, reducing errors, and providing real-time updates. 

3. Choose an Expense Management System to Manage Expense Claims 

Choosing the right expense management software is crucial for efficiently handling expense claims.

Automated expense management systems offer numerous benefits: 

  • Efficiency: Speeds up the submission and approval process. 

  • Accuracy: Reduces human errors in calculations and data entry. 

  • Visibility: Provides real-time insights into expense trends and patterns. 

Features to Look for in an Expense Management Tool 

When selecting an expense management tool, consider these essential features: 

  • User-friendly interface: Easy for employees to navigate and use. 

  • Integration: Compatible with your existing accounting software. 

  • Mobile access: Allows employees to submit claims on the go. 

  • Reporting capabilities: Generates detailed expense reports for spend analysis. 

ExpenseIn: A Top Choice for Managing Expense Claims 

ExpenseIn is an excellent choice for managing expense claims, offering a comprehensive solution that streamlines the process for everyone involved. It enhances efficiency, accuracy, and compliance, making expense management hassle-free.  

Whether it’s submitting expenses on the go, speeding up reimbursements, or ensuring real-time updates and error reduction, ExpenseIn covers all bases. 

ExpenseIn interface on mobile and laptop

Key Features of ExpenseIn: 

4. Track & Audit Expenses 

Effective tracking and regular auditing of expense claims are crucial for maintaining financial health and ensuring compliance with company policies.  

Here’s why regular audits are important and how to track expenses effectively. 

Why is it Important to Audit Expense Claims Regularly? 

Regular audits of expense claims are important for several reasons: 

  • Ensuring compliance: Audits help verify that all claims comply with company policies and legal regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties. 

  • Maintaining accuracy: Regular checks ensure that all expenses are accurately recorded, preventing errors in financial reporting. 

  • Enhancing accountability: Audits create a system of accountability, ensuring that employees submit legitimate and accurate claims. 

  • Optimising budgets: By identifying employee spending trends and discrepancies, audits can help optimise company budgets and reduce unnecessary expenses. 

Methods for Tracking Expenses Effectively 

To track business expenses effectively, consider the following methods: 

  • Use expense management software: Automate the tracking process with dedicated software that records, categorises, and stores expense data in real time. 

  • Maintain detailed records: Keep comprehensive records of all receipts and documentation for each expense claim. 

  • Set clear policies: Ensure employees understand the company’s expense policies and what is required for submission. 

  • Regularly review reports: Analyse expense reports regularly to identify spending patterns and areas for improvement. 

Best Practices for Expense Claims in 2024 

Best Practices for Expense Claims

Stay Updated with Tax Regulations 

Staying informed about the latest tax regulations is essential: 

  • Recent changes & their implications: Keep track of any changes in tax laws that affect expense claims. These changes can impact what expenses are deductible and how they should be reported. 

  • How to ensure compliance: Regularly review and update your expense policies to align with current tax regulations. Consider consulting with a tax professional to ensure your practices are compliant. 

Pro Tip: Set up a quarterly review process with your finance team to discuss recent tax regulation changes and update your expense policies accordingly. This proactive approach will help you stay ahead of compliance issues. 

Enhance Transparency & Accountability 

Promoting transparency and accountability in expense reporting is key: 

  • Encouraging honest reporting: Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting expenses accurately. Emphasise the importance of honesty in financial reporting. 

  • Using technology for better transparency: Implement an advanced expense management system, like ExpenseIn, to track and monitor expenses in real time. This technology provides clear records and reduces the risk of errors or fraud. 

Pro Tip: Use an expense management tool that offers real-time reporting and alerts. This ensures that any discrepancies are flagged immediately, allowing for quick resolution and maintaining a transparent process. 

Employee Training & Awareness 

Educating your employees about expense policies is critical for financial compliance: 

  • Regular training on expense policies: Conduct regular training sessions to ensure employees understand the latest expense policies and procedures. 

  • Creating a culture of compliance: Encourage a culture where adherence to expense policies is a priority. Recognise and reward employees who consistently follow guidelines. 

Pro Tip: Develop an interactive training program that includes quizzes and real-life scenarios to help employees better understand and retain information about expense policies. 

Leveraging Expense Management Technology 

Utilising advanced financial technology can significantly improve expense management: 

  • Automated solutions: Consider using automated expense management tools like ExpenseIn to streamline the entire process from submission to reimbursement. These tools can save time and reduce manual errors. 

  • Seamless integration: Ensure your chosen expense management software integrates smoothly with your existing financial systems, such as QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage, to facilitate efficient data flow and reporting. 

Pro Tip: Schedule regular demos and training sessions for your team to ensure they are fully utilising all features of the expense management software. This maximises the benefits and improves overall efficiency. 

By following these best practices and incorporating these pro tips, businesses can manage expense claims more efficiently, ensure compliance, and maintain financial accuracy.  

For a streamlined expense management experience, book a demo with ExpenseIn today to see how it can benefit your organisation.