Press-Republican

June 3, 2012

Make ends meet by breaking rules, padding pockets

By STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had to Ask
Press-Republican

---- — Chances are, the tight-fisted overlords who run your company haven’t given you a raise in ages and have no plans to give you one any time in the near future.

Your boss is putting a second pool in his backyard for the servants and buying a new eco-friendly electric sports car to keep in the glove compartment of his stretch Hummer limousine.

Meanwhile, you are paying a higher percentage of your health insurance, you’ve lost your pension plan, and when you get to the checkout line you fret over whether you can afford the full dozen eggs.

With family finances so tight, how are you supposed to make ends meet and make your boss give you what you deserve?

Simple. The time-honored tradition of padding your expense report. It’s more lucrative and time-saving than getting a second job, and it’s less dangerous than robbing banks.

A higher standard of living is just a little creative paperwork away. Remember that almost anything can be expensed if you’re clever enough — and if you trust that the accounting people are doing the same thing to their own expense reports and don’t want to make any waves.

The easiest way to pad your report is with mileage. Companies are required to reimburse you for every mile you drive on company business. If you add five extra miles here, seven miles there, it adds up. Prepare to use the phrase “I had to take a necessary detour.”

Throw in an occasional imaginary, but completely necessary, trip to Quebec City to pick up a Franco-Prussian omni-dicing mega-widget that was totally needed to fix the fax machine, and you’ve got groceries for a couple of weeks.

Don’t forget to add in the tolls that you had to pay on your imaginary drive. No doubt you will be required to submit a receipt — which can easily be printed out for any highway/bridge/turnpike in the world at www.fake_tolls_inc.com.

Anyone who has ever taken a long car trip on business has no doubt been presented with this curious fact: It costs the company less money to rent a car and buy your gas than it does to let you use your car and be reimbursed for the miles.

Use this logic on your boss, then take it the next logical step: If he paid to rent you a car all the time, he’d save even more money.

I also suggest heavily padding your office-supply requests. Your boss has no stinking idea how many paper clips you actually use, or why you would still be ordering a case of Wite-Out for use on your computer each fiscal quarter. Need a realistic-looking receipt? Look for www.Honest-I-really-needed-a-gross-of-staples.org.

If you travel for work — outside the prying eyes of coworkers and management — you’ve struck gold.

Sleep in your car and eat from a giant bag of pork rinds, but fill out generous meal charges from fancy restaurants (Iforgotmyre

ceipt_wink_wink.com). Realize that your company probably won’t blink an eye at Holiday Inn level expenses, but Ritz-Carlton level expenses will send up the red flags that could sink you. Be reasonable in your fabrications.

If you can arrange to do your work via teleconference, you can actually charge your office for nights that you spent at home. That alone could pay for a whole month’s mortgage. Almost forgot the receipt: I-swear-that-I-stayed-here-for-real.gov.

One excellent way to pad your expense report without interfering with your daily routine is to simply consider your wife as a Japanese businessman, for accounting purposes.

Take your wife to dinner? That’s dinner trying to woo the Japanese businessman as a new client. Wife getting a pedicure? That’s treating your potential client to “traditional Asian foot treatment.”

Be careful how far you take this. Trying to write off, say, a four-day hospital stay for the birth of a child may ring alarm bells. At the very least, change your fictional client to a Japanese businesswoman.

If you are allowed entertainment expenses, these can be a cash cow. Everything from a hotel movie to an 80-inch TV to an expensive home addition can be broadly explained as “entertainment.” If you insinuate, with winks, smirks and eyebrow raises, that a client desires an escort service, you can get a cash advance with no paperwork required at all.

A family trip to Disney World can be expensed as a “group fact-finding mission.” A calming cigarette habit can be a business necessity. New shoes will allow you to move more productively around the building.

Yes, some of these suggestions may be “morally wrong” or “certain to get you fired or incarcerated for five-to-seven years.” Just remember, everyone else is doing it.