Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance
SECTION: TRAVEL INDEX: F-1
SUBJECT: REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL
It is the policy of the University that all reasonable expenses for official travel shall be reimbursed in accordance with the guidelines set forth below. All travel must be for official University business. All applicable laws and University of Houston System (UHS) policies and procedures will be adhered to. All travel will comply with UHS Policy 03.A.03, Business Travel. All travel paid or reimbursed with state-appropriated funds must comply with the requirements of Textravel and the State Travel Management Program (STMP). Textravel will be applicable for all local travel situations that are not specifically covered in UHV policies and procedures.
Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations have specific requirements to determine if travel payments are considered to be part of an “accountable plan” and therefore non-taxable to the employee traveler. See US Treasury Regulations, Subchapter A, Sections 1.162-2, 1.212-1, and 1.274-4, which are summarized in IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses. This policy constitutes an “accountable plan” by IRS standards and travel payments that are in compliance with this policy are considered non-taxable to the employee, unless otherwise indicated.
Cost Center Manager
The department manager that has budget authority for a department and is the authorized approver for transactions for cost centers within that department; see Sources with Approvers and Alternative Approvers.
Days Spent on Business Activities
Includes days in which (1) the principal activity for that day was conducting University business, (2) the traveler was required to be present at a specific date and time for a business meeting, even if most of the day was not spent on business activities, (3) travel days to and from the business destination (not including travel to or from personal destinations or non-business side trips), and (4) non-working days, weekends, and holidays that fall between days in which business was conducted.
Department Travel Coordinator
Each department shall assign employee travel arrangements, including airfare, lodging and rental car reservations, to a Department Travel Coordinator. The Department Travel Coordinator will also be the main contact person between the department and travel-related staff in the Finance Department.
The geographic location that is the employee’s primary place of business. This should be the UHV campus or a UH campus or teaching center.
The location other than the employee’s designated headquarters to which the employee travels to conduct official University business.
Includes all travel by University employees and prospective employees to or from all countries outside Canada, Mexico, the United States and U.S. territories and possessions.
Funds collected at the University for goods or services, provided by non-state grants or contracts, or provided by donors, as opposed to funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature in the General Appropriations Act.
A commercial lodging establishment such as a motel, hotel, inn, apartment, house or similar establishment that provides lodging to the public for pay.
Mileage Only Reporting Form
Form used to record and request reimbursement to be paid with local funds for mileage only.
State Appropriated Funds
Funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature in the General Appropriations Act, whether held inside or outside the State Treasury. These funds include general revenue, special line items, Higher Education Assistance Funds (HEAF), and other funds designated as “state” funds.
State of Texas Travel Voucher Form
Form used to record and request reimbursement for travel expenses to be paid with state appropriated funds, including mileage, airfare, lodging meals, rental car, taxi, tolls and parking.
Travel Expense Report Form
Form used to record and request reimbursement for travel expenses to be paid with local funds, including mileage incurred in conjunction with other travel expenses, airfare, lodging, meals, rental car, taxi, tolls, and parking.
Travel Request Form
The Travel Request Form is used to authorize and request official University travel in advance of the trip. Not required for non-overnight mileage, parking, tolls, or other transportation expenses.
Travel Specialist/Travel Analyst
The Finance Department employees who review and approve travel related vouchers, answer travel related questions and serve as the campus Travel Card administrators.
A. Advanced Approval and Travel Arrangements
All overnight travel that is related to University business, programs, or activities, whether paid by the University or not, must be approved in advance (prior to departure and before commitment of University funds) by all of the required approvers, on a Travel Request Form. All travel arrangements should be made to minimize travel costs, while fulfilling the objective of the University travel. Official University travel paid or reimbursed from state-appropriated funds must use state contracted vendors and rates; however, official University travel paid or reimbursed from local funds is generally not required to utilize state contracted vendors. See UHV Policy F-5, Travel Arrangements for more detailed information.
Additional requirements and procedures apply to foreign travel; seeUHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel. For information on prospective employee travel, seeUHV Policy F-7, Prospective State Employee. For information on student travel, see UHV Policy F-3, Student Travel.
B. Travel Reimbursements
Cash advances are not available. No more than one travel reimbursement voucher should be processed for each business trip. Travel expenses cannot be reimbursed until after travel has concluded.
1. Local Funds
A Travel Expense Report Form or a Mileage Only Reporting Form must be completed and submitted to request reimbursement for travel expenses to be paid with local funds. See the UHV Travel Guide or the Local Travel Voucher Entry Job Aid for more information.
2. State Appropriated Funds
A State of Texas Travel Voucher Form must be completed and submitted to request reimbursement for travel expenses to be paid with state appropriated funds according to the requirements of Textravel and the State Travel Management Program (STMP). See the UHV State Funded Travel Guide for more information.
The Travel Expense Report Form or State of Texas Travel Voucher Form should document all trip-related expenses, whether paid using a University travel card or reimbursed to the traveler, as well as any third-party reimbursements. A clear statement of the purpose and necessity of travel must be stated and acronyms must be spelled out at least once on the voucher. Forms, receipts and all supporting documents are to be attached to vouchers for payment in electronic workflow. Receipts must be itemized and detailed and must clearly show that the expense has been paid (zero balance due). If a receipt does not clearly show that the expense has been paid, then proof of payment, such as a credit card receipt or cancelled check, must be attached as additional supporting documentation. If the original receipt is lost or not available, a completed and signed Lost Receipt Affidavit can be attached if the expense is paid with local funds. See the UHV Travel Voucher Job Aid and UHV Policy B-9, Reimbursement of Travel Entertainment, and Other Expenses for more information.
C. Deadline for Submission of Travel Reimbursements
Employees, prospective employees and students must submit their requests for reimbursement, including the required documentation, to the Department Travel Coordinator no later than 60 days after the last day of travel. Requests for non-overnight transportation reimbursement must be submitted to the Department Travel Coordinator no more than one calendar year after the date of the first non-overnight transportation expense was incurred.
The Department Travel Coordinator should make every effort to submit vouchers for travel reimbursements to Finance as soon as possible, but no later than 15 days following receipt of all required documentation from the traveler.
Requests for reimbursements submitted after the above deadlines may not be forwarded to Finance for reimbursement unless documentation of approval by the appropriate Vice President is included with the request.
In accordance with the Internal Revenue Service accountable plan requirements, as described in IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses, all reimbursement requests submitted to the Department Travel Coordinator after the above deadlines will be treated as a taxable fringe benefit to the payee. These vouchers must be routed in workflow through the UH Tax Department and must include a completed Exhibit B, Taxable Payments or Reimbursements to Employees Form as additional documentation.
Airfare must be purchased at the lowest price available (i.e. coach class). No-cost upgrades to business class or first class airfare are acceptable, as long as the airfare receipt provided by the airline or travel agency clearly indicates that there is no additional cost for the upgrade. Additional costs for early check in or seat assignment are not allowed.
When purchasing a “package deal” that includes airfare and lodging, an itemization of each expense must be obtained.
2. Mileage Versus Airfare
Reimbursements for mileage must not exceed the cost of equivalent air coach fare or other reasonable available transportation. Necessary extra costs for food or lodging while en route are not reimbursable if the traveler is reimbursed on a mileage basis in preference to air travel or other public transportation.
3. Mileage, Rental Car and Public Transportation
a. Designated Headquarters To/From Duty Point
Travel from the designated headquarters to/from duty point by private auto is reimbursable at the Texas State Automobile Mileage Rate per mile in effect at the time of travel. Travel from home to duty point is not reimbursable unless the distance is documented to be less than from the designated headquarters to duty point. Travelers who choose to rent a car for travel from their designated headquarters may do so, but must pay out of pocket for the rental and fuel, and will still be reimbursed based on mileage if travel is paid with local funds. If travel is paid with state appropriated funds, the reimbursement for mileage will be limited to the cost of the rental car and fuel and receipts must be attached.
b. Airport To/From Duty Point
For travel from an airport in a destination city to/from a hotel, conference or other business duty point, travelers may be reimbursed at the Texas State Automobile Mileage Rate in effect at the time of travel or may be reimbursed for actual expenses for the most cost effective method of travel, such as taxi fares or limo service (including reasonable tips), shuttles or other public transportation. Only the cost of necessary business travel should be considered in determining the most cost effective method. Car rental and fuel for travel to/from business duty points from an airport in a destination city may be reimbursed to the traveler only if it is documented that this is the most cost effective method of transportation. Receipts must be attached for reimbursement of any transportation expenses other than mileage.
c. Mileage Calculation and Reporting
Mileage may be reimbursed by using either of the following:
1) Web based mapping is the preferred method of documentation for mileage reimbursements; a copy must be attached to the voucher. Yahoo maps is specifically required if travel is paid with state appropriated funds.
2) Odometer readings: Point to point destinations obtained from the employee’s odometer readings may also be used.
The complete address (ie., name, street address, city, and state) must be used. Mileage must be documented on the Travel Expense Report Form or Mileage Only Reporting Form attached to the voucher for travel paid with local funds or the State of Texas Travel Voucher Form for travel paid with state appropriated funds.
1. Local Funds
Lodging paid from local funds will be paid or reimbursed based on actual reasonable expenses, where reasonable is determined prior to travel at the cost center manager’s discretion.
2. State Appropriated Funds
Current State-Contracted Hotels must be used unless the voucher is accompanied by written justification of use of another hotel. Actual lodging expense will be paid or reimbursed up to but not exceeding the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Per Diem Rates for domestic travel or the GSA Foreign Per Diem Rates for foreign travel for the appropriate federal year.
3. Hotel Occupancy Taxes for Lodging
University employees are exempt from the state portion of hotel occupancy taxes when traveling on official University business in Texas. The employee should present a completed Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate to the Texas lodging establishment at the time of check-in. Employees should verify that they are not charged for the state portion of hotel occupancy taxes at the time of checkout.
If the employee failed to provide a Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate or if the certificate was not honored by the lodging establishment, the state portion of hotel occupancy taxes can be paid or reimbursed to the employee at the cost center manager’s discretion if paid using local funds.
Actual travel meal expense will be reimbursed up to but not exceeding the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Per Diem Rates for domestic travel or the GSA Foreign Per Diem Rates for foreign travel. If partial meals are claimed for a day, actual travel meal expense will be reimbursed up to but not exceeding the rates for each meal per the GSA Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) Breakdown for domestic travel or the GSA Foreign M&IE Breakdown for foreign travel. Receipts are not required by the University; however, individual cost center managers may require receipts for their departments. Tips on meals may be reimbursed as part of actual meal expense up to Per Diem if paid with local funds; however, tips on meals are not allowed if paid with state appropriated funds. Per Diem or meal expense should be claimed only when there is an actual expense. If meals are provided at no cost to the employee as part of a registration fee or an airplane ticket, those meals should not be claimed by the traveler.
Per Diem or meal expense may be claimed for all meals on the first and last days of travel at the discretion of the cost center manager. The ability to claim Per Diem is not based on the time of departure or return.
Meal expenses for one day trips (non-overnight travel) are not considered travel expenses and are not reimbursable. An employee’s business meal expense for a business meeting with an employee from another UH System Component and/or a non-employee may be paid or reimbursed if the meeting was of clear benefit to the University, but are not considered a travel reimbursement. Receipts are required for reimbursement of business meal expense; see UHV Policy F-4, Meal Expense Reimbursement. If a meal is reimbursed to the employee as a business meal, Per Diem or meal expense shall not be claimed as part of a travel reimbursement.
G. Other Necessary Miscellaneous Expenses
1. State Appropriated Funds
Limited incidental expenses incurred while conducting state business may be reimbursed with state funds. Expenses must be for a documented business purpose according to Textravel guidelines.
2. Local Funds
a. Reimbursement Requires Receipts
- Hotel occupancy or similar taxes
- Mandatory charges by a commercial lodging establishment other than the room rate
- Gasoline charges when rented or university-owned or university-leased motor vehicles are used
- Repair charges when a university-owned motor vehicle is used
- Books or documents purchased for and while attending a seminar or conference
- Passport or visa charges, departure taxes, and inoculations for foreign travel
- First baggage fee for airline travel, additional baggage fees must be justified for business purpose
b. Reimbursement Without Receipts Required Subject to $15 Maximum
If paid from local funds, the following items may be reimbursed either from actual receipts or up to a total of $15 per day for all actual expenses in this category without receipts:
- Telephone calls (only related to university business)
- Toll charges
- Copying charges
- Notary fees
- Charges to exchange U.S. currency for foreign currency and vice versa exchange rate must be stated
- Travelers check charges
- Tips for baggage handling or other services where it is customary to tip. Discretion must be used to ensure tips are given only in appropriate circumstances and for appropriate amounts. However, if meals are reimbursed by M&IE Per Diem, tips for baggage handling may not be reimbursed separately, since M&IE Per Diem already includes an allowance for baggage handling tips
- Facsimile charges
- Laundry and dry cleaning expenses incurred during travel for a trip lasting longer than six days. However, if meals are reimbursed by M&IE Per Diem, laundry and dry cleaning expenses may not be reimbursed separately, since M&IE Per Diem already includes an allowance for laundry and dry cleaning.
H. Combining Business and Personal Travel
Travelers who combine business and personal travel must adhere to the following requirements, which are based on U.S. Treasury Regulations, Subchapter A, Sections 1.162-2, 1.212-1, and 1.274-4 and described in IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.
1. Travel in the United States
If travel is in the United States (all 50 states and the District of Columbia) and the number of days spent on personal activities exceeds the number of days spent on business activities, the cost of traveling to/from the destination (airfare, mileage to/from airport, airport parking, etc.) may be charged to the University or reimbursed, but will be considered a taxable fringe benefit to the employee. These vouchers must be routed in workflow through the UH Tax Department and must include a completed Exhibit B, Taxable Payments or Reimbursements to Employees Form as additional documentation. In the case of travel in the United States when the number of days spent on business activities exceeds the number of days spent on personal activities, transportation costs to/from the business destination will be paid or reimbursed without tax consequences to the employee, not including personal destinations of side trips, which may not be paid or reimbursed. Other expenses that are directly related to conducting University business, such as lodging and meals on days spent on business activities, and local transportation costs to/from business meetings, may also be paid or reimbursed without tax consequences to the employee.
2. Travel Outside the United States
All University employee business travel outside the US that includes some personal travel days is considered to be entirely for business because the employee is considered to have no substantial control over making the trip. In this case, transportation costs to/from the business destination will be paid or reimbursed without tax consequences to the employee, not including personal destinations or side trips, which may not be paid or reimbursed.
The President’s travel outside the US that is greater than seven (7) days is not automatically considered to be entirely for business because the President is a managing executive and is considered to have substantial control over making business trips. Therefore, the President must substantiate that travel outside the US is considered to be entirely for business or primarily for business when personal travel is combined with business travel in order for the cost of the travel to/from the destination to not be considered a taxable fringe benefit.
If the traveler’s actual airfare includes a personal destination, the traveler must provide a lowest priced airfare quote that only includes business destinations. The traveler will be reimbursed the lesser of the actual airfare, which includes the personal destination, and the quote, which only includes business destinations. Airfare that includes personal destinations may not be directly charged to the University travel card.
Other travel expenses, such as meals, lodging, and local transportation, will be reimbursed only if they are incurred on days spent on business activities. All meals, lodging, and other travel expenses incurred on personal days will not be reimbursed to the traveler and may not be directly charged to a University travel card. Any additional expenses incurred (additional hotel room charge, additional baggage fees, etc.) because a family member is traveling with the University employee for personal reasons also may not be charged to the University or reimbursed to the employee.
I. Travel Funded by a Grant or Contract
When an employee’s travel is funded by a grant or contract with guidelines more restrictive than the state, System, or the University policy, those guidelines take precedence.
Questions concerning travel reimbursements should be directed to the Travel Specialist, Travel Analyst or Accounting Services Coordinator in the Finance Department.
13. UHV Travel Guide
Signature Obtained 04/23/14
Raymond V. Morgan, Jr., Ph.D.