Accounting for Petty Cash


Businesses generally keep small amounts of cash to meet small miscellaneous payments such as entertainment expenses and stationery costs. Such payments are generally handled by a petty cash imprest system whereby an amount of 'Float' is fixed. This is the maximum amount of cash that can be held at any time. Each time cash level runs low, the petty cash imprest is injected with cash by drawing a cheque. The amount of reimbursement is equal to the expenses paid through petty cash since the time of last reimbursement. Petty cash balance after reimbursement reverts to back to the level of the float.

Every time a payment is made through petty cash, it is recorded in the petty cash register usually by the cashier. When the cashier requests for reimbursement of petty cash, he creates a petty cash voucher detailing the payments made through petty cash during the period since the last reimbursement along with any supporting invoices acting as documentary evidence for the claim. If everything appears in order, the authorized signatory (e.g. operations manager) draws a cheque equal to the amount of expenses detailed in the petty cash voucher.

Petty cash imprest system is an effective way to manage small day to day expenses. However, since cash is the most liquid resource of the entity, strong controls over it are necessary to avoid possible misappropriation. Following controls may be applied over petty cash:

  • Petty cash must be kept at a secure place (e.g. a cash box)
  • Petty cash must be locked away in a safe when not in use
  • Cashier must be responsible to keep supporting invoices in respect of payments made through petty cash
  • Surprise cash counts must be conducted time to time to ensure the accuracy of the cash balance stated in the petty cash register
  • The amount of petty cash float should not be set too high

Since petty cash register does not form part of the double entry system, payments made through petty cash are subsequently posted into the cash ledger and the general ledger.

Example

On 1st January, petty cash of $100 is introduced. Petty cash register shows the following payments in the month of January:

3rd JanuaryTea$10
15th JanuaryStationery$50
27th JanuaryPlumber$20

Petty cash is reimbursed on 31st January.

Following entries must be recorded:

Initial injection of petty cash will be recorded as follows:

DebitCash$100
CreditBank$100

Petty cash payments will be recorded as follows:

DebitTea$10
DebitStationery$50
DebitPlumber$20
CreditCash$80

As the total expenditure in the month was $80, this will be the amount reimbursed on 31st January:

DebitCash$80
CreditBank$80