Many workers’ compensation claims are becoming increasingly rare

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FACE IT: the hardest part of traveling for business is filling out the paperwork afterwards to get reimbursement from an employer. Certify, a company that makes expense management software, regularly evaluates the millions of receipts entered into its system for that purpose. The companies where employees spend the most money should come as no surprise. The world’s largest carriers, Delta and American, top the list of airlines, for example. But the amount and frequency of more unusual items claimed on costs is growing.

The list of foreign objects claimed in recent years, published by Certify on December 18, included a human skull (approved for medical testing), an extra hotel room that cost $85 to store samples of garlic because the seller could not stand. the smell (rejected) and a hangman who spent $2,000 to “avoid divorce”. (That was approved, although Gulliver can’t confirm whether he managed to save the marriage.) This year another employee applied for a six-month membership to Tinder Gold, a dating app, on the basis that they researching the online chat industry.

It is clear that whether an application is accepted or not depends on the circumstances. A claim for $10,000 in hotel bills and flight changes may have passed up collection at some companies – except that one claim was “due to a flight that was lost during in prison”, according to the company’s financial director. It was rejected. Meanwhile, a milk delivery costing $150 was approved at another, because a nursing mother was on a business trip and needed to send breast milk to her baby.

But some tax authorities are increasingly suspicious of the merits of some claims. In the 1960s and 1970s, when income and corporate tax rates were high, many executives had low cash salaries. But they received generous perks, such as a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or dinners at luxury restaurants, because wages received in the form of perks were not payable. Lowering tax rates around the world in the 1980s and 1990s reduced the need for this madness, helping to explain why executive pay has soared in recent decades. . But expense claims are rising again: British tax authorities say the amount of money set aside by employees to cover business costs grew by 25% in the five years to 2015. In December 2017 they launched a consultation looking at how the rules on what can be claimed as costs could be tightened. The bigger one might not last.

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