Charting the Cool: How One Item Fits Several Bookkeeping Accounts

Ray-Ban is the epitome of cool.  Those Aviator sunglasses look so sleek, you can forget they perform an important function, and that is protecting your eyes from sunlight and glare.  They have been must-have accessories of those who work in bright light and glare for nearly 80 years.  In that time, Ray-Ban has pushed the design envelope creating better and better styles, and features such as gradient lenses that fade from light to dark.  As an item purchased for use by a company, once the receipt has been received by the bookkeeper, a decision must be made to charge them to the proper expense category, based on their usage.  So even though a pair of Ray-Ban Aviator’s may be remembered as the sunglasses that made Tom Cruise look good in a movie years ago, to a bookkeeper, they may be just another item she will account for using the company’s chart of accounts.

If the company is a farm related business, those glasses could be classified as an office supply because the boss throws them on whenever he hops in his plane to do a little crop dusting.   They may be an expensive office supply, but that’s one way to categorize them based on how they are used.  And that’s not to be confused with writing them off on your taxes as clothing bought and maintained for business either.  Although they are worn for crop dusting, that same pair can be worn to go fishing on the weekend.

Suppose we were handing over the receipt to a bookkeeper on the movie Top Gun.  That same pair of glasses could have been paid for under the set and scenic account, if they were used on a movie set.  Rather than buy a pair, the company would have rented them from a hand prop room, and been charged about a tenth of their value per week, for the duration of the film’s production.  That is, if no one handled them, and they were just laying on top of a bookcase in the background of the scene.  If a character had a bit of business with them and moved them or examined them for fingerprints, per the script, they would be charged to props.    Most likely, the Aviators worn by Tom Cruise were charged to wardrobe, because they were a key factor in his character’s development.  One item, four different accounts to charge them to depending on how they were used by the business that owned or rented them.

If you decide to buy a pair of Ray-Ban’s for yourself, search Groupon for a money saving code first and apply it at checkout to save you some dough.  You can charge that to being cool.