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  • 1.  Small business expense tracking

    Posted 15 days ago
    Thank you for creating this platform to post ideas and questions about our profession and to collaborate with other peers!
     
    I am a CMA working for a start-up company where I manage all aspects of accounting, including Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Financials, Lease Accounting, and more. Throughout my career, I have worked for various companies of different sizes, often in environments where specific accounting tasks were handled by separate individuals.
     
    My current employer, a software company, started just about two years ago, and I was the seventh person hired. In this role, I face the unique challenge of managing expenses that are often paid directly by managers using their credit cards, with these expenses typically ranging between $15K to $20K. To ensure proper record-keeping, tax compliance, and readiness for future audits, I have been maintaining a practice of requesting receipts for all expenses above a $75 threshold.
     
    As someone who has always emphasized the importance of detailed receipts from everyone, from VPs to assistants, I find myself at a crossroads in today's fast-paced, tech-integrated environment. When I used to travel, I was required to provide receipts for all expenses, no matter how small. However, I am curious about current practices and whether auditors still require backup documentation for routine monthly expenses, especially credit card charges, which constitute the majority of my current expenses.
     
    In a world where we aim to streamline processes and integrate AI tools into our workflows, how stringent are the requirements for maintaining receipt backups for these types of expenses? I want to strike a balance between being flexible and ensuring that we have sufficient documentation for tax purposes and potential audits.
     
    I would greatly appreciate any insights or advice from fellow professionals on how to navigate this situation.
     
    Thank you for your comments and suggestions!
     
    Best regards,


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    Nellyreth Durango CMA - CPA (Colombia)
    Accountant
    Broomfield, CO
    United States
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  • 2.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 14 days ago

    Hi Nelly,

    Pls. find below some best practices which might help you :-

    1- You can issue multiple credit cards linked with your company's account. Moreover, you can register your cellphone no. To receive OTP for any or certain amount of transactions.  Consequently, you will be able to communicate with banks for any further details and it will prove such payments from the company accounts. 

    2- You can issue also prepaid visa in different currencies where its balances acts like an account limit. Then, it will NOT reimbursed unless invoices are submitted. 

    3-  original invoices, hard or soft copy, should be in the company name.  Then, you can request statement of accounts from suppliers, especially for significant transactions. 

    Good Luck 

    Sherif Maher, CPA, CMA



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    Sherif Dessouki CMA, CPA
    Chief Financial Officer
    Salmiya
    Kuwait
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  • 3.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 12 days ago

    Nellyreth,

    You may want to consider sales tax in making your decision.  If/when your company is audited for sales tax the auditor will examine the purchases to see if sales tax was properly paid.  The typical proof that tax was paid is an invoice.  Credit card statements may suffice in some situations, where tax is broken out on the statement, but those are uncommon.  Without proof tax was paid, the auditor's general assumption will be that it was not paid.  Some auditors will be reasonable and assume tax was paid on small transactions or where it is almost certain tax was was paid (such as a purchase from a restaurant), but others are less reasonable.  I am not familiar with how Colorado handles these matters, but would assume it is similar to these general rules.  The best approach from a sales tax standpoint is to require the submission of actual receipts (paper or otherwise) for at least all purchases above some low amount, such as $25, to minimize your exposure on audit.  And then retain the receipts for at least the minimum statute of limitations period for audits.

    Regards,

    David Winkler



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    David Winkler
    Senior Manager
    Brookfield WI
    United States
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  • 4.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 11 days ago

    That is one of the most challenging tasks at a small business. What I generally do is create a Google Form with customised options based on the client. The link for the google form is shared with all employees or is hosted on the Client's intranet. Whenver an employee is paying for an official expense, they simply fill out the Google Form. The form is designed to have fields for type of expense, category of expense, whether they have a receipt or not and also to upload a picture/pdf of the receipt. At month end I just audit the expense claims and get them posted in the ERP. The person responsible for approving the expense has access to the backend table generated by the Google Form, so they can monitor the expeneses or even refer to it when needed. As part of month close activity I send a ledger extract for each employee who has a reimbursement due, the client then vets the details and releases the payment to the employees.



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    Saket Agarwal
    Director/Manager
    Bangalore
    India
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  • 5.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 10 days ago

    Hi, Nellyreth:

    Our company use two different types of credit cards for purchases: a travel card and a purchasing card.

    Travel cards are managed through the SAP Concur system which manages the controls necessary to maintain proper documentation.  Not all companies have access to Concur, but a quick online search shows many similar style products available.  This system requires users to complete an expense report with the pertinent data to fulfil tax requirements as well as company policies.

    Purchasing cards are handled through the Bank of America Works system. This system is rather easy to use and track all purchases for non-travel related items. This tool is invaluable to our business. Every expense is listed and breaks down the sales tax from the invoice amount. It also allows the user to select the appropriate expense account to charge the invoice amount. The system also has controls which can require approvals and accounting sign-off, as well as monthly and per transaction limits which can be adjusted as necessary for one-off items. What I like best is we print a monthly report which contains a line item for every purchase and splits the cost and sales tax paid.  For lines items without sales tax paid, we accrue and pay use tax. 

    The accounting sign-off is our way of tracking the receipts. Users are required to generate a PO for each purchase and verify and code their own receipts into the Works system, however we have a few which need help. Those individuals drop off their receipts and PO's to Accounts Payable for account coding. (My advice is to train each user on the procedures you need for control and your own sanity.)  At the end of each month, all receipts are submitted to Accounting for file review and storage. The beauty of the Works system is Accounting controls the user's cards.  Have a user who will not submit invoices, suspend the card until the documentation is submitted. Overall, the system works very well for our business and helps us to track those expenses for purchases where we do not have vendor terms.  Your bank may offer a similar system.

    Hope this information helps.  If you need anything further, please let me know.



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    Thomas Meisenzahl CMA, CSCA
    Controller
    Johnson Matthey
    Sevierville TN
    United States
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  • 6.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 9 days ago

    Hi Nellyreth,

    Yes, receipts should be required for all credit card purchases, especially since it has become so much easier to keep track of receipts nowadays. We use the Spend Clarity application from Visa to manage our card expenses, receipts, and manager approvals. They even have an app where users can take a picture of their receipt using their company phone and upload it on the spot. 

    I imagine a smaller enterprise would be able to do something similar by setting up a shared folder for cardholders to upload their digital receipts. With today's technology, there is no reason to be swamped with paper statements, receipts, or approval forms anymore.



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    William Holmes CMA
    Analyst
    Pataskala OH
    United States
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  • 7.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 9 days ago

    Hi, Nellyreth,

    Manual expense reporting can be a huge time drain, and it sounds like GetCenter.com may work with your organization. GetCenter offers a credit card that is tied to GetCenter cloud software. It has the ability to electronically submit and approve expenses, along with an integrated travel application, which are all valuable features. 

    We've been a customer since 2020 and it's a huge time saver and doesn't cost us anything as GetCenter earns their fees through credit exchange fees. They offer a reward if you have exceed a certain annual spend. Although the travel application does have a fee associated with it, it's minimal at $20 per trip. 

    To learn more, check out Center at getcenter.com.



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    Daniel Black
    Director/Manager
    LAMINATORS INC
    King Of Prussia PA
    United States
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  • 8.  RE: Small business expense tracking

    Posted 9 days ago

    Nellyreth,

    Another consideration is that your company (and tax / audit obligations) may outlive the employment of the individuals in question.  The business should maintain all of the books and records that might be required should the company get audited, and that would include receipts for any charges on anyone's credit cards (whether personal or corporate).

    You didn't specify if these charges were on personal cards or corporate cards, but if these were on personal cards, you might struggle quite a bit to get receipts for an audit after an employee has left the company (doubly so if their exit was acrimonious). 

    In addition, I'd recommend you do maintain a policy / procedure where receipts are required (usually prior to reimbursement), so you are sure that 1) all of the spending was actually on behalf of the company, and did not include personal expenses, and 2) that the company is not reimbursing anyone for items which would be in conflict with regulatory and / or ethical requirements.



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    Russ Porter
    Professor of Finance, Sacred Heart University
    Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA
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