Travel Policy and Recommendations
- Per diem website: https://www.gsa.gov/
- IRS code section 274 and associated publications address entertainment-related meals and expenses. This section indicates that such meals and expenses are not reimbursable unless it is established that the expense is directly related to the active conduct of business. Birthday lunches, birthday flowers, or birthday gifts are considered personal in nature and not business related, therefore not allowable. There are exceptions to the rules which include infrequent events for employees and flowers for funerals which needs approval of the President’s Office.
- Rental cars should be utilized when traveling long distances instead of driving a personal vehicle and requesting mileage reimbursement.
- Alcohol should be considered a personal expense unless a valid university business entertainment purpose is documented with external business constituents (i.e. donors).
- Reminder: IRS considers food/snacks for meetings as non-allowable whether it includes faculty, staff or students unless it is very infrequent.
- IRS Tax Topic 511 – Business Travel Expenses - considers facilities within the same city as an extension of the place of business therefore mileage reimbursement between these locations would be considered non allowable (i.e. Peoria Next, Civic Center, Shea Stadium, etc.).
- Mileage requests can be substantiated with an odometer reading or a map quest.
The basic rationale underlying all university travel regulations is that we should incur the lowest practical and reasonable expense while completing the travel in an efficient and timely manner. Persons traveling on University business have the duty to exercise care to avoid impropriety, or even the appearance of impropriety, in any travel expense. Reimbursement is allowed for ordinary and necessary traveling expenses incurred by an employee while away from home in the conduct of university business. “Home” is considered to be the locale of Bradley University. Individuals are not “away from home” unless their duties require them to be away from the University for a period substantially longer than an ordinary workday and it is reasonable for them to need to sleep or rest.
Bradley University’s policies for travel reimbursements are subject to the accountable plan rules as set forth by the Internal Revenue Service. The requirements for an accountable plan are:
- Expenses must be expenses that are incurred by the employee in connection with the performance of service for the employer.
- Expenses must be substantiated to the employer within a reasonable time period. The elements to be substantiated are amount, time, place and purpose.
- Employees must return to the payer within a reasonable period of time any amount paid under the arrangement in excess of the substantiated expenses.
If a plan fails to meet the requirements of an accountable plan, the amounts paid under the plan are treated as if paid under a non-accountable plan and are treated as wages subject to employment taxes and income taxes.
In general, University employees are subject to the travel policies and procedures as outlined in the Faculty Handbook and the Administrative Handbook. Employees traveling on a regular, recurring basis may obtain a Bradley Travel card. This card may be used for pre-approved university related business travel. For all other travel, the University will reimburse a traveler for items paid personally after travel has taken place. Due to IRS accountable plan rules, requests for reimbursement must be made to the Controller’s Office within sixty (60) days after the last day of travel. Reimbursement requests will need to be submitted prior to grant closing dates and the University’s year-end closing at May 31.
One reimbursement request per trip should be submitted with original receipt(s) of expenditures attached to the request for reimbursement. The Travel Expense Form should be used. Reimbursement is for actual expenditures. Check and cash reimbursement requests that have complied with all established policies and procedures submitted by the 1st of the month will be paid by the 15th of that month; requests submitted by the 15th of the month will be paid by the last day of the month. Checks will be sent by the Controller’s Office to the University employee through campus mail, unless pick-up is specified. If the reimbursement is for less than $300, with proper approval and substantiation as required below, cash may be given at the Cashier’s window in lieu of a check In general, cash reimbursements will only be given to the individual requesting the reimbursement (i.e., student workers cannot be sent to pick up the reimbursement). However, with proper written authorization, an employee may pick up a supervisor’s cash reimbursement request.
In certain situations, trips are funded through a combined use of the Bradley Travel card, reimbursement request and/or cash advance. When this occurs, all forms must be submitted for clearing at the same time to the Controller’s Office to avoid any confusion.
Approval of any reimbursement request must be obtained from the immediate supervisor (e.g., director, department head, dean, provost, vice-president, president). The individual authorizing the requisition will be accountable for any issues presented during audit.
The appropriate account number and sub-code are required on reimbursement requests submitted for approval. If funding is from multiple accounts, all accounts must be listed on the reimbursement form. Please do not send in multiple reimbursement requests as this causes confusion and possible missed or duplicated reimbursements.
Original, itemized receipts must be submitted with the request (for everything other than per diem for meals and incidentals). To meet IRS accountable plan rules, the receipts must indicate:
- Location of travel
- Dates of travel
- Business purpose of travel
- Attendees, if applicable
- Indication that the bill has already been paid by the employee. For instance, for domestic travel, hotel bills should either show a zero balance due or the employee can also submit his credit card statement.
Specifically, when requesting reimbursement for conference registrations, a copy of the personal check used to register or charge card documentation along with a copy of the registration form/conference itinerary can be submitted in lieu of the actual receipt. Meals included with conference registration are not eligible for reimbursement (conference meals should be deducted from the per diem for meals and incidentals). For airfare reimbursement, please submit either an original itinerary with form of payment indicated or the actual ticket that shows amount paid and form of payment. Coach or tourist fare is reimbursed for air travel. Requests for hotel reimbursements must include the hotel portfolio. Hotel reimbursement is only allowed for lodging when traveling on University business away from the University. Miscellaneous charges must be reasonable, itemized, and explained to justify business purpose. Receipts for ground transportation (e.g., taxis, buses) should be provided, where possible
Mileage is reimbursed at the allowable University rate (currently 54 cents per mile) from the Bradley University base of employment to the travel destination. The University allowable rate established each year cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Service standard rate for the respective periods and may in fact be lower.
Meal reimbursements - Travel (per diem)
Per Diem for Meals and Incidentals for University Employees
Effective September 1, 2013, a Meal and Incidentals Per Diem allowance will be paid for overnight travel away from home in connection with the performance of services as a Bradley employee. This per diem is intended to cover the cost of meals, tips and incidentals and is intended to streamline processing and ease documentation requirements for certain activities. Receipts are not required to support this allowance. The per diem allowance for all domestic travel will follow the maximum established federal per diem per locale as provided in the Per Diem search at https://www.gsa.gov. Partial days of travel (i.e., day of departure and return) are reimbursed at a reduced rate of 75% of the per diem rate. For international travel, please see Foreign Travel Policy.
Per IRS rules, incidentals include fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel staff and others.
The per diem allowance will be processed after the travel period has been completed and cash advances are strongly discouraged. Even though the travel reimbursement is granted on a per diem basis, proper business substantiation is still required on the Travel Expense Report, such as business purpose and dates of travel. An example of appropriate business purpose documentation for conference travel would be to attach the conference itinerary. Meals considered a business meal with an outside party (see Business Meals below) may be charged on a Bradley credit card. Personal meals charged on the Bradley credit card must be paid back to the University when the credit card statement is submitted for processing. Repayment for personal meals (expenses) cannot be offset against any anticipated per diems.
Per IRS rules, meals for travel may be reimbursed if the business trip is overnight or long enough that one needs to stop for sleep or rest to properly perform one’s duties. Thus, one-day trips will not be reimbursed unless the workday exceeds 12 hours. Typically, the one day trip reimbursement request may include a per diem for the evening meal if the one day trip exceeds 12 hours. Breakfast and lunch per diems would not be paid in this situation.
Meals Provided at No Additional Cost
Whenever meals are provided at no additional cost to the traveler (e.g., complimentary hotel breakfasts, meals included in conference registration fees), the traveler shall not be entitled to any per diem for those particular meals.
Travel under External Grant/Contract Funding
Travel under grants/contracts funding must follow sponsoring agency requirements which may mean that per diem cannot be used, instead source documentation may be required (original receipts, etc.) If the grant or contract provides specific per diem rates for domestic travel, these rates will be honored but must be supported by a copy of the relevant page of the grant or contract.
Business Meals While in Travel Status
When the primary purpose of a meal while in travel status is for conducting University business with individuals not employed by the University, the names and business affiliation of the participants, as well as the business purpose of the meeting, must be provided. An original itemized receipt must be submitted with the Travel Expense Report or the University credit card statement. The traveler will not be reimbursed at the per diem rate for that particular meal. All remaining meals for that day will be reimbursed according to the breakfast/lunch/dinner breakdown of the per diem for that locale (also provided at https://www.gsa.gov.)
Non-University Employee Reimbursements
The per diem method for meals is only allowable for University employees. Reimbursements for non-employees and students should be supported by original, itemized receipts to receive reimbursement.
Meal Reimbursements - Entertainment Rules
Under the entertainment rules, meals must meet the business requirement test to be reimbursable. Otherwise the meal is deemed a personal expenditure. To meet the business requirement test, the main purpose of the meal must be the active conduct of business for the general expectation of getting some specific business benefit at some future date. Meals with outside parties can generally meet this requirement. It is much harder to substantiate a meal between associates as there is generally no real business reason for conducting the discussion during the meal. Thus, meals provided at departmental meetings are not generally reimbursed.
Food and beverages for faculty, staff and students furnished on business premises may be reimbursed to the extent that it is reasonable and infrequent with a business purpose. Infrequent would constitute two or three times a year
Bradley VISA documentation
VISA charges must be substantiated with:
- Proper approval on the statement.
- All original itemized receipts.
- Business purpose on all receipts (including when, where, why, who and what).
The documentation must be timely submitted to ensure payment by the due date. Finance charges are the financial responsibility of the cardholder. The cardholder is responsible for submitting and resolving all disputes with the credit card company. If the credit card receipt is lost or otherwise not submitted, the cardholder is responsible for the expenditure and should submit a personal check made payable to the University along with other documentation. If receipts are found at a later date, the cardholder may request reimbursement at that time.
Travel on Restricted Funds
University travel expense reimbursement policy and procedures apply to all travel on sponsored project funds unless the sponsored agreement provides a different method of reimbursement. The traveler must comply with the travel requirements of the sponsoring agency, including all applicable OMB Circulars and state requirements. The following restrictions apply to sponsored project travel:
- Travel on sponsored project funds is restricted to individuals who are directly associated with the scope and purpose of the project.
- Foreign travel costs are allowable only when specific funds for foreign travel are provided in the sponsored agreement. Such travel may also require specific sponsor approval.
- Foreign travel funded by the U.S. government is booked on a U.S. flag carrier if available. Deviations or exceptions are specifically approved in advance by the sponsoring agency.
Please see Bradley University Foreign Travel Policy.
Miscellaneous reimbursable travel expenses
The following items are generally reimbursable to the extent they are reasonable and necessary business expenditures:
- Business office expenses (fax, copy services, telegrams, etc.)
- Business phone calls
- Conference fees
- Currency conversion fees
- Fees for the purchase of traveler’s checks for foreign travel
- Gasoline for refueling a rented car
- Ground transportation (train, taxi, bus, subway, etc.)
- Laundry and dry cleaning charges for trips exceeding ten consecutive calendar days
- Parking and tolls
- Tips up to 20% of meal cost for business meals not subject to the per diem
- Visa fees for business travel
Non-reimbursable travel expenses
The following items are generally not reimbursable. Note: This list is not all-inclusive.
- Alcoholic beverages for students
- Movie rentals, theater tickets, newspapers, magazines, prescriptions, over-the-counter
- drugs, hotel mini-bar expenditures (which includes alcohol, snacks, bottled water or any other non-meal related food and drink items)
- Insurance on rental automobiles
- Trip/flight insurance
- Parking tickets and fines for traffic violations
- Personal expenses
- Personal portion of airfare while on university business
- Personal-use portion of a car rented for university business
- Repairs or towing of personal vehicles used for university business. These costs are included in the mileage reimbursement rate.
- Expenses incurred by spouses, partners and families or rate increases occasioned by presence of spouses, partners and families.
- Laundry service for trips of less than ten consecutive calendar days
- Personal aircraft usage
- Childcare or pet care costs
- Loss or theft of cash advance money, airline tickets, traveler’s checks, etc.
- Locksmith charges
- Lost baggage, luggage, and briefcases
- Souvenirs and personal gifts
- Health club fees
- Commuting expenses between home and work