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Corporate expense reports climb 3% in 2013, report says

Corporate expense accounts
A hair salon visit was just one of many outrageous expense reports that were turned in during 2013, according to one report.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Expense accounts, a hallmark of corporate America that has been battered by the economic turmoil of recent years, enjoyed a rebound this year, according to one report.

Certify, a company that provides software for expense account management, said total worker expenses climbed about 3% in 2013 from the previous year.

That tracks with earlier signs that business travelers -- and presumably their employers -- were more willing to shell out for meals and airfare.

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In the third quarter of 2013, for example, employees spent $18.72 on average for a meal, compared with $16.72 in the previous quarter, Certify said. The average flight cost $362.77, up from $346.31.

The recovering economy has also spurred some creative employees to seek reimbursement for some rather interesting expenditures. After asking 60,000 business travelers about their 2013 spending patterns, Certify selected some of the most outrageous.

Below is a sampling:

--Fishing trip in the Bahamas for $91,237, according to one finance director

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--Three-day apartment lease in Hong Kong. The excuse? “Every hotel room was booked due to Consumer Electronics Show. ... I had to rent an apartment and then cancel the lease.”

--Human skull for a medical experiment, according to a finance manager at an antique business.

--Hair highlights for a client. A payroll manager described it as “one of the craziest expenses I have had to approve.”

--200 used hubcaps for a trade show display for a celebrity chef “with a huge ego.”

--Tabletop dancing. The accounting manager of the tech firm said it fell under “entertainment.”

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Twitter: @ShanLi


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