The approval process for University travel really begins as part of each department’s operational planning for the year. The University expects the overall planning process to reflect the fact that professional development and operational travel are part of a department’s ongoing operations and personnel development.
To support this philosophy, many VP areas have allocated professional development and operational travel resources out to the departmental level (versus being centralized at the VP level). To further support this philosophy, travel policies and procedures grant the dean and director level more ability to utilize these resources.
While the University expects professional development and operational travel to be part of each department’s planning process and therefore have supervisory approval, the payments department will no longer verify this supervisory approval during the purchase/payment process. Individual departments can have their own internal approval requirements and processes, but the payments department will not be able to verify compliance. (Reimbursement for travel and entertainment still requires a supervisor’s approval. See Business Expense Policy.)
All credit card reclasses or reimbursement requests for travel must include original, itemized receipts for expenditures. If a transaction is under $50 and a receipt is difficult to obtain, it is allowable to document the expense and note the lack of receipt. The IRS requires all expense reimbursements (including purchasing card documentation) to provide substantiation of the expenses by adequate records that include the following:
Conference Agendas--For travel that is conference related, a conference agenda must be submitted as part of the documentation.
Spousal Travel--The University does not reimburse for spousal travel unless it is pre-approved by their VP with a valid business purpose. Spousal travel reimbursement is a targeted hot topic for the IRS.
Administrative approval is required for all reimbursements. Generally, the employee’s supervisor (including VPs), who has budget authority, approves the request for reimbursement. Supervisors approving these expenses attest to the business purpose of the entertainment or travel, as well as the propriety and reasonableness of the expenses. The Director of Finance and Controller has been instructed to refer any unusual charges or amounts in excess of University thresholds to the area vice president for review and approval or to the vice president for Business and Planning or the president, if appropriate.
We recommend that travelers arrange to have all airfare charges placed on one of their departmental purchasing cards. Travelers should note that the University will not reimburse any airfare purchased with personal funds until the related travel is completed. We highly recommend departments continue to utilize the following two travel agencies:
These agencies assure us they will make every effort to book reservations at the most economical rates available. Internet websites, such as Expedia, are also okay to use. Airfares should be booked for the standard coach fare. See the Business Expense Policy for specific documentation requirements for air travel purchases on purchasing cards or through the use of personal funds.
Courtyard Marriot (Seattle Downtown/Lake Union)
925 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
Telephone (206) 478-6003
Fax (206) 213-0101
Account Manager: David Baisch
Travelers who are renting cars for a portion of their business trip should contact the PD to receive copies of the University’s insurance card. University liability insurance covers travelers on business trips while they are driving rental cars. Therefore, do not accept the rental agency’s additional insurance coverage. The University standard for rental cars is the compact class.
Car Rental Guidelines
Choose one option:
University guidelines for meals are listed below. (Requests in excess of these guideline amounts must include a justification for the excess and VP approval.) The University does have an alcohol use policy and does not reimburse for alcohol use.
Under a per diem allowance method, an employee receives a per diem allowance in lieu of reimbursement for actual expenses for meals and incidentals incurred for travel away from home. Incidentals are defined as items, other than meals and lodging, like snacks, taxis and tips. The advantage in using the per diem method is that it eliminates much of the recordkeeping that is usually associated with away-from-home travel expense. The per diem amount must be substantiated by recording the names of people included in the per diem calculation for each calendar day, the locality of travel and the business purpose of travel. The University per diem rate is $30 per day, or an employee can use the IRS per diem rate by locality (select the state and city in which you will be attending the conference). IRS international rates are also available. Individual areas that have traveling student groups can set their own per diem rate as long as it is no more than $30 per day.
For the per diem option . . .
The University does not reimburse for meals or incidentals occurred on one-day (no overnight) trips. The IRS does not view reimbursements for meals on one-day trips as an allowable expense. In order for any meal expense to be allowable as a deductible/reimbursable travel expense, it must occur as a result of a trip lasting substantially longer than an ordinary day’s work. In other words, meals that an individual may purchase while traveling between locations without an overnight stay or while at a local seminar are not reimbursable. The tax code treats any reimbursements received for this type of meal as taxable income to the individual. This does not refer to or include reimbursements or expenditures for meals with a specific, substantiated business purpose. A substantiated business purpose in this circumstance includes lunches where business is the main topic or purpose of the meeting. In light of this IRS position, the University will not reimburse or pay for any meals as a result of a one-day trip unless there is a clear, substantiated business purpose.
The University reimburses employees for local business transportation expenses using the standard mileage allowance. The standard mileage rate generally changes on January 1 of each year. Business miles driven between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, will be reimbursed at 58 cents per mile. Adequate accounting for business miles requires the employee to substantiate the time, place (or use) and business purpose of the travel. Local transportation includes travel from one job to another, from one customer to another, and from the individual’s office in order to perform business tasks. Commuting expenses between an employee’s residence and a business location are not reimbursable. The mileage allowance rate is determined by the IRS and is meant to cover gas, use of the vehicle, wear and tear on the vehicle, insurance, and maintenance. As a result, these items are not reimbursable.
Some faculty positions at SPU require persons to do all or most of their work off of the main campus. SPU remains their primary place of business, but they spend a majority of their time at a temporary worksite. The mileage from your home to those worksites is fully reimbursable. If during the day your trip brings you to SPU, you will need to use example (A) below to calculate your mileage.
Example A: What if I travel from home to a remote job site and then to SPU?
The IRS wants to make sure that commute miles are not included, so they have set up a formula for this situation. Calculate the mileage from home to site to SPU. Then calculate the mileage from SPU to site to SPU. The lower mileage calculation is the amount to be claimed as reimbursable.
Example B: What if I travel from home to a remote job site then back home?
If your home is your primary place of business then you can report mileage from home to site to home. If not, you must follow the same steps as in the above example. Calculate the mileage from home to site to home and compare the mileage from SPU to site to SPU. Whichever is smaller is the amount that’s reimbursable.
HR hiring procedures describe the guidelines for receiving relocation assistance.
You need to be aware that certain types of moving expenses, and the lack of documentation for qualified moving expenses, trigger tax implications. Please observe the following guidelines to minimize this potential taxation.
Know that . . .