Policies

Office of General Accounting



Business Travel and Entertainment



POLICY:

Utica College will reimburse for ordinary, necessary, and reasonable travel and entertainment expenses when directly related to the transaction of College business. This policy establishes procedures governing the reimbursement of travel, entertainment, and other business expenses incurred during the conduct of Utica College business , provided that funds are available and that travel has been pre-approved by the person with budgetary authority. Individuals wishing to be reimbursed must adhere to the guidelines outlined in this policy, and they may not seek reimbursement for personal expenses that are not in accordance with this policy.

If the terms of a grant, award, or other external funding source differ from this policy, the terms of the external funding source will supersede this policy. In these cases, appropriate documentation must be attached to the reimbursement form.

SCOPE:

This policy and its procedures apply to all individuals whose travel and entertainment expenses are paid by the College or by grant, award, or other external funding source. Said individuals include faculty, staff, students, guest lecturers and other visitors, trustees, alumni, and candidates.

REASON FOR POLICY:

This policy is designed to ensure:
  • Reasonable reimbursement within a timely manner
     
  • Communication of equitable standards and effective procedures for controlling travel costs
     
  • Reimbursement within the parameters set forth by the IRS
     
  • Compliance with applicable laws
     
  • Adherence to ethical business practices
     
DEFINITIONS:

Official Travel – College-sanctioned travel from a person's home or place of employment to another destination and back again. Commuting between a person’s home and regular place of employment is not considered official travel.

Travel Advances – Payments made before the start of a trip, including cash to cover out-of-pocket expenses; prepayments for airfare, conference registration, lodging, etc.; and/or prepayments on credit cards in anticipation of charges being made to that credit card while traveler is on the road.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses– Expenses that cannot be prepaid prior to departure nor billed directly to the College.

Entertainment Expenses – Expenses incurred for social activities with individuals other than Utica College employees, including meals, recreational activities, etc. while conducting College-sanctioned business.

Receipts – Original dated bills from the service provider that fully describe the expense incurred and indicates that payment has been made. A credit card charge slip that does not include expense details is not considered a valid receipt.

PROCEDURE:

Utica College will reimburse individuals for expenses incurred while traveling for College business purposes. Examples of these expenses include meals, entertainment, transportation, lodging, vehicle usage, etc. Refer to the Travel Policy Fact Sheet for a full list of reimbursable items, current reimbursement rates, and non-reimbursable items.

Before embarking on a trip, all travelers must complete a Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form. Upon completion of the trip, all travelers must complete a Travel Expense Reconciliation Form to account for all expenses, including cash advances, prepayments, and expenses incurred while traveling. This form should also be used to explain any unusual expenditures or to request exceptions to this policy.

In addition, meals, entertainment, and gifts in lieu of lodging must be accounted for on the Business Meals and Entertainment Record. To expedite the reimbursement process, travelers should bring this form with them during their trip and document expenses as they are incurred.

Planning a Trip

a. Prepayments and Cash Advances

When planning a trip, all travelers must complete a Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form and submit it to the Office of General Accounting. The request form must include the following information: the department that will be paying for the trip, date(s) of the trip, destination, purpose, amount(s) requested, account number to be charged, and authorized signatures. Any expenses that are to be prepaid – for example, registration fees for conferences – should be noted on this form along with all anticipated expenses that will be charged to a College credit card or paid out of pocket.

The Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form must be submitted to the Office of General Accounting at least seven days in advance of the start of the trip. In addition to prepaying expenses such as conference registrations, airfare, etc., the College will provide cash advances to faculty and staff to cover reasonable miscellaneous costs such as taxi fares, tips, and other expenses that cannot readily be charged to a credit card or directly paid by the College. The size of the advance must be a reasonable estimate of the amount of cash required and should not exceed $500. Cash advances will generally be issued no earlier than 10 business days prior to departure.

To avoid incurring interest charges and late fees, travelers who will be out of town for an extended period of time should ensure that the balance on any credit cards they will be using has been paid. Travelers can use the Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form to request prepayment on credit cards that will be used to charge expenses during the trip.

In general, travelers may not have more than one travel advance outstanding at any time. Cash advances are the personal obligation of the traveler; therefore, the traveler is responsible for any lost or stolen cash advances.

Travelers must account for all expenses, including cash advances and prepayments, within 14 business days after the completion of the trip by submitting a Travel Expense Reconciliation Form. Non-reconciled cash advances will be added to the traveler’s W-2 in compliance with IRS regulations.

Non-College employees can be reimbursed for eligible out-of-pocket expenses by accounting for such expenses on a Travel Expense Reconciliation Form.

b. Tax Exempt Status

Utica College is exempt from paying New York State sales tax and Federal excise tax on all goods and services purchased by travelers for business use, including hotel or motel stays, air or train travel, and automobile rentals. Tax exempt forms for New York State as well as some other states are available from the Office of Purchasing and Accounts Payable, and should be provided to vendors in advance or presented upon arrival at each destination.

Tax Exemptions in Canada

Non-Canadian citizens traveling within Canada are charged Goods and Services Tax (GST) for all purchases. Utica College does not reimburse for GST. The most current procedures regarding refunds of this tax for business visitors can be found at this Web site or telephone number:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/menu-e.html

(902) 432-5608

c. Reservations

Reservations should be made in advance for the traveler’s hotel, air or train travel, and automobile rental. Utica College has arrangements with several vendors that will bill the College directly and may offer preferred rates. Contact the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Purchasing and Accounts Payable, or the Office of General Accounting for more information regarding these vendors. Prepayment for expenses relating to lodging and transportation can be requested on the Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form, or the traveler can request reimbursement for such expenses with the Travel Expense Reconciliation Form, providing this request is made within 14 days of returning from the trip.

In planning a trip, travelers should consider whether flying, taking the train, or renting a vehicle would cost less than using a personal vehicle.

Travelers who plan to fly are urged to work closely with travel agents to obtain the lowest fares and rates. When flying, travelers should fly coach class. In some cases the trip may require a Saturday stay over.

Since some conferences offer special hotel and airfare rates, conference attendees should compare those rates with rates that are available elsewhere.

Travelers who plan to rent a car should reserve compact or mid-size vehicles unless special circumstances justify otherwise. Do not purchase collision insurance. Utica College maintains its own automobile insurance, which provides hired vehicle physical damage coverage.

d. Registration Fees

Registration fees will generally be prepaid by UC directly to the sponsoring organization upon submission of a properly completed Travel Authorization and Advance Request Form, with the registration application, the registration confirmation (if the traveler has already registered for the conference), and the conference agenda, which details meals covered by the registration fee, all attached.

e. Foreign Travel

Travelers who will be traveling to other countries are encouraged to use credit cards to ensure the most favorable exchange rate. It is also a good idea to call the credit card company to advise when travel out of the country is planned.

Transportation

In planning a trip, travelers should consider whether flying, taking the train, or renting a vehicle would cost less than using a personal vehicle.

a. Air – Reservations for traveling by air should be made in advance. See Reservations, above.

b. Vehicle

1. Rental – Travelers who plan to rent a car should reserve compact or mid-size vehicles unless special circumstances justify otherwise. Do not purchase collision insurance. Utica College maintains its own automobile insurance, which provides hired vehicle physical damage coverage. Return the car with a full gas tank to avoid expensive refueling charges, although consideration should be given to refill guarantees where that charge would be less than the cost of gas. Be sure to keep the rental agreement, since this is the receipt required for reimbursement.

2. Personal – Utica College establishes a mileage reimbursement allowance for use of a personal vehicle for College-related travel. This allowance is intended to cover all vehicle operation expenses such as gasoline, oil, tire repair/replacement, mechanical repairs, and insurance. Tolls and parking fees are additionally reimbursable.

c. Train – Reservations for traveling by train should be made in advance. See Reservations, above.

Lodging

Utica College will reimburse travelers for lodging when:
  • Travel is for two or more days; and/or
  • The distance from the traveler’s home is more than 120 miles; and/or
  • The starting time of the conference or meeting necessitates arrival the evening before; and/or
  • The cost of staying overnight is less than the cost of traveling home and back the next day
     
Travelers should use their best judgment in selecting accommodations that are safe, convenient and economical. The original hotel or motel bill and proof of payment is required for reimbursement. Since Utica College is tax-exempt in the state of New York, the College will not reimburse for New York state sales tax. When traveling within New York State, obtain a tax-exempt form from the Office of Purchasing and Accounts Payable or the Office of General Accounting and present it to the hotel at check-in.

Some states other than New York may accept Utica College’s tax-exempt status; call the Office of Purchasing and Accounts Payable or the Office of General Accounting for more information.

Gifts in Lieu of Lodging

In general, travelers will be reimbursed for modest gestures of appreciation for individuals who gratuitously provide lodging to travelers while they are on official travel. Reimbursement will be allowed up to $25 per day, with the total amount not to exceed $100 per stay. Government regulations prohibit travelers from charging gifts in lieu of lodging to federal grants or contract accounts.

Meals

Utica College will reimburse travelers for meals when an individual’s travel schedule makes it difficult to eat at home or bring a meal from home.

The most current reimbursement rates for meals are listed on the Travel Policy Fact Sheet. Utica College will reimburse travelers for three meals per day. Travelers who opt not to eat one of the three meals during the course of the day are permitted to use that allowance towards another meal within that same day.

For information regarding business meals not related to travel, see the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Policy.

Entertainment

Entertainment expenses, including business meals, will be reimbursed when they are incurred while advancing the mission of the College. Personal entertainment expenses unrelated to the College-sanctioned purpose of the trip are not reimbursable. Examples include movies in the hotel room and socializing unrelated to the purpose of the trip.

Combining Business Travel with Personal Travel

Utica College does not reimburse personal expenses incurred while on official travel. If the traveler takes an indirect route to accommodate personal travel, reimbursement for transportation costs will be the lesser of the actual charges or the amount that would have been incurred by traveling the direct route.

Travel Expenses of Spouse/Significant Other/Family Members

In general, expenses for spouses/significant other/family members are not reimbursable unless attendance at special functions is required and there is a bona fide College-sanctioned purpose. In such cases the College will pay for properly authorized expenses.

Travel Insurance

Business Travel – Utica College maintains an insurance policy that provides coverage for accidental death or dismemberment that may occur while an employee is on official travel. More information may be obtained from the Office of General Accounting.

Personal Property – Utica College does not insure travelers for loss of or damage to any personal property, either at work or while on official travel. Travelers should seek reimbursement from his or her own insurance company or directly from the responsible party.

College Property – Utica College is partially self-insured and generally does not insure College-owned property, equipment, etc. that has been moved off campus. More information may be obtained from the Office of Student Financial Services.

Personal Automobiles – If a College employee who is traveling on official business is involved in an accident resulting in damage to their vehicle, the College may reimburse the employee for his or her deductible or expenses up to $200. If a College employee who is traveling on official business is involved in an accident that causes bodily injury or property damage to a third party, the traveler’s personal insurance will apply first and if necessary, the College’s insurance will supplement. Employees using their vehicles for official travel should check with their insurance agents to make sure their coverage is adequate.

Returning from a Trip

All travel and entertainment expenses that were prepaid or that are to be reimbursed by the College are subject to appropriate approval. To be reimbursed for expenses incurred and to reconcile travel advances and charges to Utica College credit cards, travelers must submit a signed and approved Travel Expense Reconciliation Form to the Office of General Accounting within 14 business days of the end of the trip. No one is authorized to approve his or her own Travel Expense Reconciliation Form except for vice presidents.

All information on the Travel Expense Reconciliation Form must be completed, including a complete itinerary, dates of travel, purpose of trip, and breakdown of all expenses. An explanation of extraordinary expenses must be included when needed. The form must be signed by the traveler and approved by the appropriate responsible individual, and receipts for all expenses, including any expenses that were prepaid, must be attached. Meals for which there are no receipts will be reimbursed at the without receipt rate listed on the Travel Policy Fact Sheet.

If prepaid or reimbursable expenses include meals, entertainment, and gifts in lieu of lodging, a Business Meals and Entertainment Record must also be completed and included when submitting the Travel Expense Reconciliation Form.

Foreign Travel

Travelers are encouraged to use credit cards when traveling, to ensure the most favorable exchange rate. If the expense has been charged to a credit card, visit the credit card company’s Web site and print out a transaction detail, which will provide the most favorable exchange rate, and attach it to the Travel Expense Reconciliation Form. If the expense was not charged to a credit card, the traveler must covert the expense to U.S. funds using the exchange rate in effect when the expense was incurred. Assistance with the conversion is available from the Office of General Accounting or from these Web sites:
www.oanda.com

www.exchangerate.com

RESPONSIBILITY:

Faculty, staff, students, guest lecturers, other visitors, trustees, and alumni are responsible for complying with this policy. Individuals submitting expenses that are not in compliance with this policy risk delayed, partial, or forfeited reimbursement.

ENFORCEMENT:

Enforcement of Utica College policies is the responsibility of the office or offices listed in the “Resources/Questions” section of each policy. The responsible office will contact the appropriate authority regarding faculty or staff members, students, vendors, or visitors who violate policies.

Utica College acknowledges that College policies may not anticipate every possible issue that may arise. The College therefore reserves the right to make reasonable and relevant decisions regarding the enforcement of this policy. All such decisions must be approved by an officer of the College (i.e. president, vice president for academic affairs, or vice president for financial affairs).

RESOURCES/QUESTIONS:

For questions regarding this policy please contact the Office of General Accounting Office.

Please note that other Utica College policies may apply or be related to this policy. To search for related policies, use the Keyword Search function of the online policy manual.



Effective Date:
07/25/2007
Promulgation Date:
09/24/2007
Date Last Revised:
10/11/2007
Revision Promulgation Date:
10/15/2007