Building Your Business What Is an Expense Report? Expense Report Explained By Sakshi Udavant Sakshi Udavant Twitter Website Sakshi Udavant covers small business finance, entrepreneurship, and startup topics for The Balance. For over a decade, she has been a freelance journalist and marketing writer specializing in covering business, finance, technology. Her work has also been featured in publications and media outlets including Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, The Independent, and Digital Privacy News. learn about our editorial policies Updated on June 30, 2022 Reviewed by Khadija Khartit Reviewed by Khadija Khartit Twitter Website Khadija Khartit is a strategy, investment, and funding expert, and an educator of fintech and strategic finance in top universities. She has been an investor, entrepreneur, and advisor for more than 25 years. She is a FINRA Series 7, 63, and 66 license holder. learn about our financial review board Sponsored by What's this? & In This Article View All In This Article Definition and Example of an Expense Report How an Expense Report Works What an Expense Report Should Include Types of Expense Reports Templates for Expense Reports Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images Definition An expense report is a document used to track business expenditures. Definition and Example of an Expense Report An expense report is a formal document used by employees and contractors to receive reimbursements for business expenses from their employers. For example, a contractor may include the price of meals eaten on the job, cost of the gas filled in the vehicle used for work, and internet bills incurred on a work phone on their expense report. Alternate name: Travel and entertainment report, T&E report Imagine an employee traveling for a business conference. They would use some means of transport, eat something on the way to/at the conference, entertain clients at a restaurant or a co-working space, and incur many such expenses to complete the assigned task. All of these may be included in an expense report. Depending on the company policies, the employer fully or partially reimburses these expenses based on a predetermined arrangement (contract). Note Most companies don’t reimburse leisure activities like sightseeing with your family when you are traveling for work. It’s important to read your contract properly before submitting your expense report. How an Expense Report Works Companies typically have a fixed reimbursement policy, which is clearly stated in the contract employees and contractors receive before commencing work. The contract will include specifics like what is the per diem (daily expense allowance), which expenses will and won’t be reimbursed, and how the expense report should be submitted. When it is time to file a reimbursement for business expenditure, the employee or the contractor will submit an expense report to the manager, employer, or the accounting department, depending on the size and type of company. What an Expense Report Should Include An expense report should include the following details for a hassle-free reimbursement process: Date: When the business expense was incurred. Expense details: Type of expense incurred (meals, tickets, fuel, etc.). Employee/contractor details: Name, department, business information, contact details, type of work arrangement, etc. Receipts: Proof of expense (invoices and bills). Note If an employee plans to include an unspecified expenditure (one not agreed to in the contract) in the expense report, it’s helpful to provide an explanation for why the expense should be reimbursed by the employer. Types of Expense Reports Different companies have different reimbursement policies, so employees have to adjust their expense reports accordingly. Below are two types of expenses reports used frequently by small-to-medium-sized businesses. Recurring Business Expense Report Regular employees who frequently incur a lot of business expenses follow a fixed template to submit business expense reports every month or weekly, depending on the company’s policy. These may include a daily fee or specific expenses such as travel and meals. One-Time Business Expense Report If an employee, or most likely a contractor, is filing for reimbursement in a single instance (not frequently), they use a one-time business expense report. The format for a one-time expense report isn’t fixed, as different contractors may incur different types of expenses. Such reports offer more flexibility but may require receipts for proof. Templates for Expense Reports Using a neat template with clearly demarcated sections for each piece of information can make the reimbursement process easier. Here are some websites and apps to access free templates for submitting expense reports: Microsoft Zoho Clockify HubSpot Smartsheet While templates can be a good place to start, make sure they include all the details necessary for reimbursement before submitting the document to avoid delayed or stuck payments. Key Takeaways A business expense report is a form of document used by employees to track expenditure for reimbursementExpense reports are based on rules mutually agreed on by the employer-employee or contractor/contractee.One-time expense reports are used for reimbursement of the occasional business expense, while recurring reports are used by regular employees. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. General Services Administration. "Per Diem Rates." Carroll University. "Expense Report." Accessed Sept. 15, 2021.