Go Expense Yourself

Bob Goldman
Posted: Jan 10, 2013 12:01 AM

I don't like to criticize, but you've really been slacking off lately. And not in a good way either. Yes, you're doing fine slacking off on your work commitments, and you're a master when it comes to slacking off on staying conscious during business hours. But when it comes to submitting totally fake expense reports, your slacking off is not only embarrassing, but it's costing you money.

It's true! If you think that no one can match you when it comes to submitting bogus expense reports, you're as wrong as a $200 dinner tab dinner at McDonalds. Yes, the bogosity bar has been raised, and you just can't cut it anymore simply by adding a couple hundred extra miles traveled for work when your car never left the company parking lot.

If you don't believe me, surely you will believe Vanessa Wong who recently graced Bloomberg Business Week with an inspirational article, titled "The 10 Craziest Things Employees Tried to Expense Last Year."

(I can't imagine why Ms. Wong considers these noble efforts "crazy." The only thing that I would consider crazy is if you didn't put all ten on your next expense report.)

Or maybe you think that you're the only employee out to bilk the boss? You're not even close. According to Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify, an expense management software firm, "even in these days of austerity and job insecurity, up to one-fifth of submitted expenses violate company policy."

This is a shocking figure, unless you remember that company policy is to wiggle out of paying every legitimate expense you submit. This makes it totally reasonable to strike back by submitting as many illegitimate expenses as you can dream up.

Your criminal imagination not up to the task? Fear not. Here are a few of the top ten expense account fiddles for 2012:

1. Goat. Employees at an energy supply firm claimed the goat was for a barbecue with goat-loving clients. Being a sensitive individual, it may be difficult for you to get billy onto the spit, but you can solve that problem by imagining the head of HR turning slowly as she roasts over a hot fire.

2. Deer urine. It's not cheap, especially for a decent vintage, but an employee from an agricultural products company needed the magic elixir for a hunting trip with a client. If the accounting department gives you a hard time, offer to bring in the two or three gallons left over.

3. Live baby octopuses. A Japanese client wanted fresh sushi. Your boss won't balk at this level of client service, though it may be difficult to explain why you had to fly to the Great Barrier Reef for a three-week octopus harvest at a luxury resort.

4. Baby giraffe. Follow the lead of the hospitality company employee who came up with this expense. Just don't rent the full-size model. And make sure you get unlimited mileage with the deal!

5. Dunk tank. This morale builder was great for an auto supply company's special event, but at your business, it could be used every day. All you need is your CEO's commitment to work on a platform five feet above the tank, which could be filled with baby octopuses, or piranhas.

6. Pink flamingo lawn ornaments. The employee of a medical device company expensed four of these pink beauties to liven up the office. Of course, if you want to show out-of-the-box thinking, it probably wouldn't cost much more to buy four live flamingos. You could breed them in the break room, producing a very nice income stream for the company. Talk about showing initiative!

7. Laser tattoo removal. An IT worker expensed the procedure because he wanted to "appear more professional to clients." You can do it, too, but don't remove the tattoo of your boss on your chest.

8. $1300 for Henry IV Cognac. OK, so expensing a $1300 drink does seem a little extreme. I suggest you show your commitment to cost cutting and go for the Henry III. It's almost as good, and only $1150 a shot.

9. Body oil. The explanation was that it was used in a body building competition. Considering your body, I would expense a gallon of motor oil, heavy duty.

10. A trip for a job interview. No worries about this one. Submit the other 9 items on your expense account and the boss will be delighted to pay whatever it takes to get you a new job.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.