Travel Policies & Procedures
Xavier University will reimburse its faculty and staff for expenses incurred on official University travel that are properly authorized, reasonable and appropriately documented. This policy and its related procedures describe the guidelines for such expenditures and outline the process for reimbursement. It has been prepared with as much flexibility and as little complexity as possible within the constraints imposed by provisions of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other various legal and contractual requirements that are required to be met by the University.
It is expected that all Xavier University faculty, staff and students will exercise appropriate care in incurring such travel expenses. Only actual expenses incurred will be reimbursed. It is the responsibility of each individual incurring such expenses as well as the individual approving such expenses to comply with the University's policies and procedures as set forth within this document. Due to budget constraints, department heads may place more restrictive limitations on the amounts spent by their specific department or area if deemed necessary.
- IRS Regulations: IRS regulations require that employers have an "Accountable Plan" for the reimbursement or payment of business expense for employees. An "Accountable Plan" must include requirements for proper substantiation, a bona fide business connection and a timely return of amounts in excess of expenses. Payments not meeting these requirements would be considered taxable wages to the individual receiving the funds and Xavier would be required to pay FICA taxes on these amounts. Consequently, the University will only reimburse individuals for expenses which meet the requirements of an "Accountable Plan".
- Scope: This policy and its related procedures are applicable to all University representatives regardless of the source of funds supporting such travel. If such expenses are to be charged to a sponsored program, the terms of the grant or contract will take precedence if they are more restrictive than University policy.
University Business Travel Expenses
Out-of-Town Travel: These are expenses incurred while traveling on behalf of the University from one's home or office at the University to another destination(s) outside the greater Cincinnati area and back again. (The metropolitan area of Cincinnati is defined as the area within 50 miles of downtown Cincinnati.) Reimbursement for these expenses is to be requested by completing a Business & Travel Expense Report.
Travel dates normally acceptable as university business include the day prior to the actual dates of business related activity through the last day of the business related activity. Any exceptions must be separately justified on the Travel Cost Comparative Analysis for Extending Business Trips. On those occasions when personal travel is combined with business travel, the University will not reimburse any expenses associated with the personal part of the trip.
Local Travel: Business travel expenses incurred within the Greater Cincinnati area for mileage should be reported on a Business & Travel Expense Report. All other local expenses requiring reimbursement should be documented on a Business Expense Form and attached to a Request for Check Form.
The cost of traveling between the faculty or staff member's residence and the individual's work location is considered personal commuting expense by the IRS and therefore not a reimbursable business expense. Mileage from the employee's residence to a temporary work location (ex. local conference site, school visit location, etc.) will not be reimbursed unless the mileage is significantly greater than one's normal commuting mileage, as defined above. In this case, the difference between the normal commuting mileage and the mileage to the temporary work location will be reimbursable.
Meals consumed by an employee while traveling locally are not allowable business expenses according the IRS. This does not include meals when an employee is dining or entertaining other individuals for business purposes. Refer to number 5 in the Procedures/Guidelines section of this policy for further explanation.
Travel advances are funds given to a traveler, prior to a trip, that are used to pay for incidental expenses incurred on University travel. These advances are the sole responsibility of the traveler, and such funds should be safeguarded from loss or misuse. Advances are considered/recorded as a loan to the employee until the employee settles the advance through submission of the Travel Expense Report.
Requests for travel advances can only be made by submitting an approved Requisition for Travel Advance form at least two (2) work days prior to the date funds are needed. Travel advances will be issued no earlier than seven (7) days prior to the trip and are limited to $50 per travel day not to exceed $300 per travel occurrence for travel within the US. Advances for foreign travel are subject to a $100 per day limit, $600 per trip. Traveler must sign the advance form and secure approval from his/her unit head. Travel advances will only be issued on a University check made payable to the traveler. Amounts requested in excess of this limit or advances required prior to seven days before the trip will require the written approval of the Controller.
An expense advance should not be requested for expenses that can be paid directly by the University (registration fees, airfare, hotel etc.). (See prepaid expenses section)
Individuals receiving such advances are required to account for advances within thirty (30) days of the end of their trip and their return to the University by completing the Business & Travel Expense Report. The IRS requires that expenses be substantiated and amounts exceeding expenses be returned within a reasonable time. If this form is not received within this period, the Office of the Controller will advise the traveler of his or her past due status. No further advances will be issued to a traveler that has an overdue advance. Further delay in submission of the report will result in deductions of the amount of the traveler's cash advance from his or her paycheck. Unsettled expense advances for terminating employees may be deducted from their final paycheck.
Prepaid expenses are expenses paid by the University on behalf of the traveler before the business trip is taken. Examples include hotel deposits, conference registration fees and similar expenses. They are made payable only to the vendor, such as the hotel or the organization sponsoring the conference or seminar. Travel advances will not be given to the traveler for these expenses.
Office of the Controller
The Office of the Controller is responsible for ensuring that all University business travel expenses are reimbursed in accordance with all applicable University policies and procedures and that all faculty, staff, and students adhere to same.
This office is responsible for paying all invoices received for all travel from the University's authorized travel agency(ies) and for reconciling such invoices against the individual Business & Travel Expense Reports.
Business & Travel Expense Reports
Business & Travel Expense Reports are to be submitted for reimbursement within 30 days of return date even if there has not been a prepayment or travel advance.
Reimbursement to travelers will always be made by check.
Each traveler is to submit his or her own Business & Travel Expense Report form even if traveling with one or more University faculty or staff members. The preferred method of reporting is for each traveler to report only his/her expenses. If several University employees are traveling together and an expense is combined (such as lodging costs, meals, etc.) the cost must be clearly documented on the Business & Travel Expense Report of the individual claiming the combined amount. The documentation should include the names of the other University employees involved.
A Business & Travel Expense Report form must be filed, if a travel advance is issued, prepaid expenses paid, or airline ticket ordered, even if the trip is canceled. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that all refunds are received by the University. The completion of a Business & Travel Expense Report is the only manner in which a travel advance can be returned or cleared from the traveler's record and appropriately charged to the proper account.
NOTE: If travel expenses are charged to a credit card which is paid directly by the University, those expenses should be reported separately on the Business Expense Form and attached to the credit card bill when processed for payment.
Procedures / Guidelines
- The University requires appropriate documentation for all expenses associated with travel over $10.00. Except as noted below, original receipts are always required for airline, rail, bus or car rentals, transportation to and from the airport, meals, lodging expenses, and other reasonable and necessary expenses. Photocopies of receipts will not be accepted for reimbursement.
- The University will reimburse an individual an amount based on actual expenses incurred, unless more restrictive limitations have been placed on the amounts spent by a specific department or area as deemed necessary by the Department Head. Requests for the reimbursement of expenses incurred for travel must be submitted on a University Business & Travel Expense Report. A report must be submitted for each separate travel occurrence.
Airlines: Travel arrangements can be made through the University's authorized travel agency(ies). Contact the Controller's Office for the current authorized travel agent. All requests for airline tickets and/or travel arrangements must be accompanied by a University budget number. This budget number communicated to a travel representative will appear on the itinerary/invoice from the authorized travel agency and will be used to automatically charge the budget represented by this number without use of internal requisitions.
The University will not permit payments to be made to any travel agency or airline for transportation arrangements except for those made with the University's authorized travel agency(ies). An exception to this policy may be requested if the traveler is able to provide documentation that a lower fare associated with a specific conference or meeting is being offered by another agency authorized by the conference planners, and that the University's authorized agency is unable to offer the same fare. Use Section B of the Travel Cost Comparative Analysis form that is titled "Justification for Use of other than University Preferred Travel Agent" to document the above situation. Keep in mind, even though there are special rates promoted by a conference it is often possible to obtain the same rate through our preferred travel agency by providing them the airline "contract" or "file" number for the conference. Submit this form as an attachment to the final Business & Travel Expense Report for the trip unless airfare was paid prior to departure via a Request for Check form. If this is so, attach document to the Request for Check.
Employees are encouraged to enroll in frequent traveler programs and are allowed to use the rewards for their personal use. However, it is required that the policies above be adhered to. Under no circumstances should an employee select a higher price or longer duration flight on the basis of participation in one of these programs. Frequent traveler programs may be used by employees for seat upgrades.
Reimbursement for airfare shall not exceed the University's standard fare, which is defined as the equivalent of a 7-day advance purchase as quoted by a University approved agency, excluding those fares requiring a Saturday night stay-over or non- direct flights. No more than this standard fare is reimbursable by the University regardless of the source of funds.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to maximize "discounts" for airline travel through advance purchase of airline tickets where travel schedules can be planned in advance, such as for national meetings and other scheduled events.
Personal Automobile: Mileage reimbursement for personal vehicle use is based on the IRS allowable reimbursement rate, rounded down to the nearest penny. Contact the Controller's office for the current rate. Per IRS regulations this rate includes the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance and wear and tear. Reimbursable mileage is based upon the starting point of the trip or the campus, whichever is less. If a private auto is used for a trip, the transportation expense should not exceed the comparable cost of airfare for the trip.
The University will not reimburse individuals for driving and/or parking violation fines. The IRS does not consider these acceptable business expenses.
Individuals who use their own private automobiles for University business must have at least $100,000/$300,000 of liability insurance coverage. The University will not reimburse individuals for the cost of such insurance nor for the cost of automobile repairs, break downs, tows or resultant meals and lodging that may be incurred when private vehicles are used for University business.
Car Rentals: The cost of a car rental is an allowable reimbursable expense provided that such an expense is essential to the business trip. The University will reimburse the traveler the cost of the vehicle rental, based on the invoice paid to the rental company. The traveler will also be reimbursed for any gasoline purchased separately that is not included in the rental company's invoice provided an original receipt is attached to the reimbursement request.
Collision and liability insurance is not to be purchased from the car rental agency. Such expenses will not be reimbursed by the University to the traveler. The University's insurance policy covers the rental car driven by an employee traveling on behalf of Xavier.
Only mid-size or compact automobiles are to be rented unless traveling with excess baggage or with 3 or more people.
Travelers are encouraged to use taxis and hotel shuttles instead of rental cars when expenses are expected to be below that of a rental car. Expenses for airport limousine vans, buses or taxis will be reimbursed only when original receipts are submitted with the Business & Travel Expense Report.
- Airlines: Travel arrangements can be made through the University's authorized travel agency(ies). Contact the Controller's Office for the current authorized travel agent. All requests for airline tickets and/or travel arrangements must be accompanied by a University budget number. This budget number communicated to a travel representative will appear on the itinerary/invoice from the authorized travel agency and will be used to automatically charge the budget represented by this number without use of internal requisitions.
- Lodging: The University will reimburse an individual for the cost of lodging based on an amount no greater than the single room rate. Any incremental increase, for example deluxe, double, suite, and/or concierge-level room, will not be reimbursed. It is expected that the individual will secure lodging generally at no more than the mid-range rate for hotels in the particular city traveled to. The itemized hotel bill must be submitted showing the daily posting by the hotel. Credit card slips or statements, canceled checks, or other types of receipts will not be accepted.
Meals: Employees will be reimbursed for actual expenditures for personal meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) while traveling on University-related business subject to any limitation placed on allowable expenditures within a specific department or area. Individuals should be conscious of cost, use good judgment, and avoid lavishness. The supervisor or department head approving the expense report should review these costs for reasonableness. Meal expenses will not be reimbursed when meal service is provided by the commercial carrier or when meals are included in the registration fees of seminars, etc. The expense of one's meals, including gratuities, must be recorded and reported daily as breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the Business & Travel Expense Report.
The IRS applies an "overnight" test to determine the treatment of meal costs as business expenses. The cost of meals on one-day business trips locally or away from home are not reimbursable if the trip does not require an overnight stay.
When the traveler is dining or entertaining other individuals for business purposes the expense must be reported in Section B of the Business & Travel Expense Report. The IRS requires the following documentation for all business meals and entertainment expenses.
- Nature of business conducted
- Names of all present
- Business affiliation of guests
- Receipts are required for all meal and entertainment expenses. Acceptable original meal receipts include an itemized bill, the customer's original copy of the credit card receipt, or a cash register receipt. NOTE: According to the IRS, reimbursements made without the proper documentation must be reported as taxable income to the employee.
- Other Expenses: All other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred while on business travel will be reimbursed, including reasonable gratuities for baggage handling, parking fees, tolls, and reasonable business telephone calls. One personal call each day for overnight travel is reimbursable. Receipts for these expenses should be obtained and submitted when practical and must be identified by line on the Business & Travel Expense Report.
Foreign Travel: All requests for prepayments of expenses, travel advances or reimbursement of expenses for foreign travel must be approved by the traveler's Vice President.
Foreign travel is defined as travel outside the United States except for travel in Canada.
Personal Expenses: The University will not reimburse individuals for personal expenses while traveling such as child care costs, kennel fees for pets, valet or laundry services, snacks, recreation costs, in- room movies or other similar costs.
Travel expenses for the spouse and/or families of faculty and staff will not be reimbursed by the University.
On those occasions when personal travel is combined with business travel, the University will not reimburse any expenses associated with the personal part of the trip.
Approvals: All such expenses incurred on behalf of the University are to be certified as to completeness and accuracy by the traveler and are to be approved by the direct supervisor of the traveler and budget administrator, if different. No individual may authorize and approve his or her own travel expenses. Without such certification and approval, as well as inclusion of all required information, justification, conference agenda, and receipts, reimbursement of such expenses will not be approved.
The budget administrator/direct supervisor is responsible for review and approval of all expenses including the reasonableness of meal costs and adhering to departmentally imposed limitations on reimbursements.
This statement of policy and procedure is intended to be a guide in determining reasonable expenses for University business travel expenses.