Subject Area: Procurement/Disbursement
Responsible Office: Financial Services
Sponsor: Chief Financial Officer
Originally Issued: August 1985
Revised: November 2006, February 2010, March 2011
Refer Questions To: Shared Services Help Desk, 773-702-5800
Purpose: To manage University resources wisely and meet requirements imposed upon the University from external entities while treating the Traveler and the University equitably.
Note: This policy does not address cash advances for travel or other purposes. They are addressed in Financial Policy 1214, Non-Salary Cash Advances.
- Travel policy and practices must be consistently applied to all institutional travel activities. (Citation/regulations)
For travel reimbursements and payments to be considered non-taxable income, the University’s travel policies and procedures must comply with the IRS Accountable Plan Rules. To be considered an “IRS Accountable Plan” a business expense reimbursement arrangement must meet the following three conditions:
- Business Connection: Reimbursements and advances provided to Travelers under the plan must be for work-related expenses only. Any advance payments must be reasonably related to the business expenses that a Traveler is expected to incur.
- Substantiation: Travelers, within a reasonable period of time, must provide a statement substantiating the amount, time, use and business purpose of the expenses. Original receipts must be submitted with the statement.
- Travelers must return any advanced amounts in excess of the substantiated expenses within 120 days after the trip completion date. (Citation/regulations)
- University Travelers should neither profit nor suffer loss as a result of their travel on University business.
Scope of Policy
- This University policy applies to all Travelers (faculty, staff, students, and guests) regardless of the source of funds. If travel expenses are charged to a sponsored program (e.g., grants or contracts), the terms of the grant or contract will take precedence if they are more restrictive than the University policy.
- Individual units (e.g., schools, departments, institutes, divisions) may establish travel procedures which reduce allowable expenses or require more documentation for expenses than the University limits outlined in the Policy (e.g., a school may designate a maximum daily allowance for meals or limit reimbursement for air fare). If so, the unit is responsible for ensuring that Travelers comply with the local procedures before approving reimbursement. The Financial Services’ audit of expenses will not consider local procedures.
- Issues, disputes and matters of interpretation related to this policy and the accompanying procedures will be resolved by Financial Services.
Authorization to Travel
The University does not mandate a standardized approval process or preliminary travel authorization procedure. That responsibility is determined by and expressed in the practice, budget process, or explicit procedures of the organizational unit to which the Traveler reports. Travelers must comply with the authorization process in use in the University department, division, institute or school, or external source providing the funding for the travel.
Payment of Travel Expenses
- The University will reimburse the Traveler, individual, or institution who has paid the traveler’s expenses, for all necessary and reasonable University travel related expenses. The University will not pay expenses that have been or will be paid or reimbursed by an outside source.
- Travelers certify by the submission of their expenses that those expenses were incurred in association with University travel and that they have not and will not be reimbursed by another entity.
- Reimbursement requests are approved by someone other than the Traveler who does not report directly to the Traveler.
- Travel reimbursement requests for Deans and Senior Officers will be reviewed and approved by the Associate Vice President for Finance.
- Travel of 50 miles or less from campus does not qualify for lodging or meal reimbursement. (Citation/regulation)
Allowable Travel Expenses
Allowable Travel Expenses by Expense Category lists the University-wide allowable expenses and documentation requirements for transportation, lodging, meals, and other expenses incurred while traveling. Items based on requirements of external entities (e.g., Internal Revenue Service, Office of Management and Budget) to which the University must respond are referenced by source as citation/regulation.
Individual units (e.g., schools, departments, institutes, divisions) have budgetary oversight for travel expenditures and therefore may establish travel procedures which reduce allowable expenses to a level below that available through the University policy. A unit may also require a greater degree of documentation for expenses than the University level (e.g., the unit may require receipts for meals over $25, instead of the $75 limit established in the policy). If so, the unit must ensure that its Travelers comply with its local procedures before approving reimbursement. The University audit of expenses will not consider local procedures.
The Traveler should assume that any item not specifically addressed in Allowable Travel Expense by Expense Category is not allowed as a University travel expense. Note that fieldwork may entail expenses which are not explicitly related to travel. These should be reported as business expenses, equipment purchases or whatever is appropriate.
Note: Even if you are not required to present a receipt, you must detail each item of expense on the Travel Expense Voucher, Travel Expense Envelope, or blank sheet of paper.