The Strangest Expense Claims (That Actually Got Approved)

the strangest expense claims

A pet octopus. Lawn-mowing goats. Caribbean vacations. These are just some types of work expenses that employees have tried to get approved by their managers.

Managing expense claims can be complicated, and it is undoubtedly misunderstood by many. In a memorable exchange on Seinfeld between Jerry and Kramer, neither one understood what a write-off was, but it didn’t matter since the business they were discussing would be the one handling the write-off.

Surprisingly, though, some finance experts who do understand write-offs still approve some incredibly bizarre employee expenses. We’ve made a list of some of the strangest expenses to get approved, as well as a refresher on basic work-related expense claims.

Note: This post is not tax advice. Tax laws and hospitality regulations vary by country and may put caps on the amount spent on meals, entertaining a customer, or other business expenses. For specifics in your country, speak to a tax advisor.

What are work-related expense claims?

Work-related expense claims are fairly easy to understand. When employees lay out money of their own or use a corporate spending card to purchase something work-related, they have generated a work-related expense. 

For example, if an employee has started working from home and needs to buy a desk, printer, and faster internet service, those are all claimable expenses. Depending on the company’s expense policy, the employee may be able to get reimbursed for all or part of the money they spent. 

There are many common business expenses, although it is worth noting that different countries treat some of these expenses differently. 

Travel Expenses

When employees travel for business, they generate several different expenses. The company pays for transportation and, in the event of an overnight trip, their hotel stay. Employees are often entitled to a per diem amount, which they can use to buy food and other incidentals. 

Meals

While not every meal is a business expense, meetings with customers over lunch or dinner may be considered a business expense. If work requires staying late, dinner can also be a business expense. 

Office Expenses

Any items needed to run an office would fall into this category. That includes computer equipment, office furniture, and phone lines. It also covers things like pens, paper, staplers, and other items required to run a business.

Examples of Outrageous Expense Claims 

Businesses operate in different areas, which can lead to some expense claims that range from curious to jaw-dropping.

employee submitted a request for a $79 dog crate

Puppy Behind Bars

Things got weird in 2020 when a lot of companies shifted to work from home set-ups — and so did their employees’ expenses. According to Certify, one employee submitted a request for a $79 dog crate specifically to help train a COVID puppy “to not run into Zoom meetings.” Much to our surprise, the request was approved. It’s unclear if the puppy’s owner had to buy a separate crate for the dog to use outside of business hours.

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a $150 llama rental fee was submitted — and approved