Imprest System

What is the Imprest System?

Imprest System is a type of financial accounting system that is designed for tracking and documenting how cash has been utilized. Most common example include petty cash system that accounts each and every petty cash transactions to maintain an equilibrium in the fund that is equal to the total of petty cash receipts and additional cash that is left in the fund.

Examples

An Ltd is seeking to create a reserve for maintaining all its petty cash transactions. As an administrative department of A ltd, guide the same with the formal procedures with the help of which it can create a petty cash fund. The petty cash Imprest system is one of the most common types of an imprest system that is used to record petty transactions during times when it is inconvenient or impractical for the users to cut cheques.

Petty cash accounts usually maintain a pre-determined amount of cash that can be used for various purposes like reimbursing employees’ expenditures, payment of petty expenses, etc. An ltd can create a petty cash fund by recognizing and recording all the petty cash transactions with the help of the following steps-

  1. A pre-determined amount of cash is allocated for creating a petty cash fund. This account is separately recorded in the general ledger of an organization.
  2. In the next step, the company must identify all its nominal expenses that are paid with cash and accordingly document all of them in the system with receipts.
  3. To maintain a pre-determined set balance, the company must top its petty cash fund from time to time.
  4. The company must regularly monitor the petty cash fund so that there are no possibilities of any discrepancy between the expected cash amount and the actual cash amount.
  5. The administrative department must conduct an appropriate investigation process in case it finds any discrepancies.

Imprest System

Advantages of the Imprest System

#1 – Detection of Fraud 

The Imprest system eliminates the possibilities of unauthorized spending as the funds are designated for pre-determined purposes. This, in return, makes tracking of expenses and report of discrepancies much easier which ultimately aids in the detection and rather the elimination of the possibilities of frauds.

#2 – Reduction in Errors

The cashier reviews the petty cash book at frequent intervals, and in case there lies any mistake or errors, then the same can be easily traced and rectified.

#3 – Regulation of Petty Expenses

Petty expenses are managed with the set limits of the imprest system, which makes it almost impossible for the petty cashier to spend higher than the petty cash that is available in the account.

#4 – Reduces the Chief Cashier’s Burden

Petty cash book relieves both the cash book and the Chief Cashier from the burden of recording petty and nominal expenses.

#5 – Simple and Quick Method

Compared to other methods, this is way too quick, simple, accessible and convenient at the same time. The method can be quickly used to provide funds for employees’ purchases. It is one of the best methods known for making nominal purchases.

#6 – Ease in Reconciliation

The reconciliation of the petty cash book is simple and uncomplicated too.

Disadvantages of Imprest System

#1 – Outdated System

Petty cash book is a largely outdated and inefficient system, and it does not fulfil the needs and expectations of the company’s current requirements. Now there are better alternatives such as prepaid cards available with the companies that are specifically designed keeping in mind today’s needs and requirements.

#2 – Inconvenient for Larger Expenses

One of the major drawbacks of using an Imprest system is that it causes huge inconvenience for larger expenses. The system is highly compatible and convenient for smaller expenses while opposite for larger expenses.

#3 – Accounting Errors

Since there is no secondary documentation system to track nominal cash expenditures, therefore, the chances of accounting errors in the petty cash system cannot be denied.

#4 – Overspending

Not setting the expenditure limits for every nominal transaction can even put an organization at the risk of facing overspending on purchases.

#5 – Theft

In the absence of appropriate controls, the company’s petty cash account can be misused by employees, and it will become tough to find out who took out the cash.

#6 – Misappropriation

In the absence of adequate controls, there are high chances for the same to get misappropriated by the company’s employees since petty cash is a type of liquid asset.

Important Points

  • Usually, petty cash funds are monitored by custodians who help in handling the accounts and dispense cash to the company’s employees. In return, the latter furnishes such receipts that are totally business-related.
  • Petty cash funds are established with a pre-determined amount, and the same is accordingly recorded in the entity’s ledger.
  • The administrative department of an organization is charged with the responsibility of maintaining the petty cash book.
  • All the expenditures that are paid from the petty cash funds must be necessarily documented along with receipts.
  • Imprest system can also be used to cover employees’ payroll, dividends, incentives, bonuses, rewards, and travel expenses too.

Conclusion

  • The petty cash account is a widely used Imprest system where nominal expenditures are recorded. The petty cash system is a straightforward and user-friendly method that enables the replenishment of all the expenditures. The aforesaid system can help an organization in numerous ways.
  • Organizations can use petty cash system for the reduction of errors, elimination of fraud, control of petty expenses, reducing the burden of the senior cashiers, and whatnot.
  • But the users of the Imprest system must also be aware of its multiple drawbacks like chances of theft, misappropriation, overspending, etc. and utilize the same accordingly. The organizations must, therefore, design a set of policies that dictates how cash must be handled for avoiding all the associated problems.

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