Gifts in Lieu of Lodging
Train and Air Fare
Approval of Travel Expenses
Insurance While Traveling
Sales Tax Exempt Certificates
This policy has been developed to establish and communicate equitable standards and effective procedures for substantiating and controlling travel costs for university business. The policy applies to all individuals whose travel expense is paid by the university.
The University has a direct billing arrangement with Travel Unlimited, a local travel agency, and Travel Guard, a travel agency with an online tool which may be used to purchase airline/train tickets and make hotel and rental car reservations.
All guests visiting campus are strongly encouraged to stay at the Best Western University Inn especially when the University is paying for the stay. The Inn is a wholly owned subsidiary of St. Lawrence University and will direct bill the university upon request.
Employees may reserve a university fleet vehicle for business travel, but may not use fleet vehicles to drive to transportation centers such as airports and train stations on their way to another final destination. The size of the University’s fleet is not large enough for vehicles to be parked at transportation centers while an employee is traveling. If transportation to/from an airport is required, Safety and Security (ext. 7777) will provide assistance.
A fleet vehicle may be reserved by submitting a completed Request for Use of University Vehicle form to Facilities Operations. The designated driver must be an authorized driver and meet all terms and conditions of the University Vehicle Policy.
The University will provide cash advances to faculty, staff, and, on occasion, students traveling on authorized business to pay for out of pocket costs which can not be paid by credit card or directly paid by the University. The size of the advance must be a reasonable amount for the length and location of the trip and may not exceed $500. Each cash advance is the personal obligation of the traveler, therefore, the traveler is responsible for any lost or stolen cash advances.
Travel advances may be requested by submitting an approved Travel Advance Request form to the Business Office. If the employee receives their salary payment by direct deposit, the advance will be credited to the same bank account. If the employee receives their salary payment by check, a check will be issued for the advance. Approved payment requests with all required information received by Tuesday at 4 PM will be issued on the following Friday if by check and Monday if by direct deposit.
An approved expense report must be submitted to substantiate the expenses paid with the advance within 20 business days after the trip. Any advance funds not used must be returned with the report. If an expense report to clear an advance is not received within the required timeframe, the Business Office will send a reminder. An advance not accounted for with an expense report within 120 days will be reported to the appropriate vice president and deemed taxable income to the employee. Appropriate payroll taxes will be withheld in the employee’s next salary payment.
Employees may not have more than one travel advance outstanding at any time. Reimbursements for other business expenditures and additional advances will not be made until the prior advance is substantiated.
Allowable travel expenses typically include lodging, transportation, meals, mileage. Specific requirements and limitations for these are listed below.
A $30 daily per diem is normally permitted for meals when an employee is traveling on business for a full day. Employees electing the per diem are not required to submit receipts for meals. When an employee requires the per diem amount for specific meals rather than full day, the per diem amount allowed per meal is as follows.
If an employee provides receipts for meals to substantiate an amount other than the per diem, the maximum allowable to charge the university is $40 per day. Receipts must be itemized receipts listing items served, not credit card receipts. The allowable amount per meal with receipts is as follows.
These amounts include gratuity. Meal costs in excess of the maximum amounts documented with a detailed receipt may be authorized by the appropriate Vice President. Expenses for alcohol incurred with a meal are not allowable unless the meal is considered an authorized entertainment expense. These are expenses for food, beverages, and social activities incurred while conducting University businesses with individuals who are not University employees such as job candidates, donors, students, parents. Reporting of entertainment expenses must include information describing the names of individuals being entertained and the business purpose of the meal or event.
Meal expenses not involving an overnight trip may be reimbursed, but are not considered tax exempt. If an employee submits an expense report for meals not involving overnight travel, the appropriate payroll taxes will be withheld from the employee’s next salary payment.
In order for such meal costs to be considered tax exempt, one of the following must apply:
1) The meal is provided on an occasional basis to allow the employee to work overtime.
2) The meal qualifies as a legitimate business expense, i.e. University business is conducted during the meal.
Employees staying in hotels in states which exempt the university from sales tax should notify the hotel they are on University business and therefore exempt from tax. St. Lawrence University is exempt from tax in New York and information on which other states have exempted the University from sales tax along with certificates of exemption are available at Exemption from Sales Tax. Employees will need to provide the hotel with a copy of the University’s certificate of tax exemption at check in.
Employees must attach a copy of the hotel invoice with detail of charges to their travel expense report to adequately substantiate the cost of lodging. Sales tax charged by hotels in New York State is considered unallowable since it is the employee’s responsibility to notify the hotel of the University’s tax exempt status.
Gifts in Lieu of Lodging
Expenses for modest gestures of appreciation for individuals who provided lodging to a University employee traveling on University business may be an allowable traveling expense unless the travel is to be charged to a federal grant or contract. The expense must be substantiated with a detailed receipt describing the item and include a brief explanation.
Registration fees will normally be paid directly to the sponsoring organization by the University before the travel occurs and do not need to be reported on a travel expense report.
Train and Air Fare
As described in the earlier section on Reservations, travelers must use Travel Unlimited or Travel Guard in order to have the expense billed directly to the University in a manner that does not require the employee report it on a travel expense report. Travel Guard provides an online reservation tool for employees purchasing airline tickets that provides group discounts to participating schools such as St. Lawrence University.
University employees should purchase tickets that provide the greatest economic benefit to the University. This requires flying coach, and may require flying discount airlines rather than those in which an employee may be enrolled in a frequent flyer program. Employees are encouraged to consider a Saturday night stay over if the savings for the flight is more than the additional costs of lodging.
Examples of non-allowable travel expenses which are not to be charged to the university are as follows:
* lost or stolen property, tickets, cash
* alcoholic beverages, unless considered approved entertainment expense
* damage to personal vehicles, clothing or other items
* fines, parking tickets
* movies, including those charged to a hotel bill
* expenses for family, spouses, and companions traveling with the employee unless there is a legitimate and approved business purpose.
* extra baggage fees
* travel insurance
Corporate travel cards are available to University employees who travel frequently on University business.
Employees may at times combine personal travel with business on a single trip. If a traveler takes an indirect route in order to include personal travel, the allowable expense which may be charged to the University is the cost of the direct route and the employee is responsible for any excess cost. Expenses incurred during the personal travel portion of a business trip are the responsibility of the employee and not to be charged to the University.
Employees using their personal vehicle for business travel may claim mileage allowance which is currently approved at 50 cents per mile. The allowance is intended to cover all operation expenses such as gasoline, oil, tire and engine repair and maintenance. Costs of tolls and parking fees are not included in the mileage allowance.
Employees driving on University Business are encouraged to use their own vehicle, but may request a University Fleet Vehicle if the travel exceeds 25 miles. If a personal vehicle is used to travel to a single destination, the mileage allowance should not exceed what the cost of air fare would be for that destination.
Approval of Travel Expense Reports
Employees must receive approval from their supervisor for university business travel in advance of the trip. Employees must prepare travel and entertainment expense reports to substantiate all travel expenses paid by the university which must be approved by the appropriate responsible persons. The appropriate responsible person must be a university employee with budget authority for the accounts being charged for the travel that has a higher level of authority than the traveler. With the exception of the VP for Finance, employees may not approve travel expense reports for their supervisors.
Travel expense reports submitted for reimbursement or to substantiate a travel advance must be submitted to the Business Office within a timely manner, generally 20 days within completion of the trip. If a reimbursement is to be issued to the employee, a Request A Payment for the reimbursement must also be entered using the SLUportal. Travel expense reports substantiating costs charged to an employee’s travel card must be submitted within 15 days of receipt of the monthly statement. These are available by logging on to CentreSuite, the online reporting tool for cardholders. A separate expense report should be submitted for each business trip
Insurance While Traveling
The University maintains a group Travel Insurance Policy which provides employees with coverage for accidental death or dismemberment if incurred while traveling on University business. Specific information may be obtained by contacting the University’s Director of Risk Management.
If an employee’s car is damaged while traveling on business, the University may reimburse the employee for the deductible amount up to $200. If an employee traveling on University business is involved in an accident which causes injury or property damage to a third party, the employee’s personal insurance will apply first, and, if necessary, the University’s insurance will supplement.
The University does not provide insurance for loss or damage to personal property, either at work or while traveling of University business. The University is partially self insured and normally does not insure its property and equipment if it is moved off campus. Specific information may be obtained by contacting the University’s Director of Risk Management.
Sales Tax Exempt Certificates
Several states have granted the University tax exempt status and service providers such as hotels will generally waive sales tax if provided with the tax exempt certificate issued to the University by their state with proof the expense is for university business. Many vendors require the bill be paid with a university corporate card as proof the expense is for university business. Whenever possible, employees should request the sales tax be waived when paying travel costs for university business.
Detailed information on which states have issued exemption certificates to St. Lawrence University and any applicable restrictions is available here. Employees may click on the states they will be traveling to in order to print copies of the required certificate. Employees will be required to enter their network ID and password to access these documents.
Employees traveling to foreign countries are encouraged to review the benefits offered by the Employee Travel Assistance Program. The program provides three areas of service for employees traveling on business and/or vacation: pre-trip information, emergency medical assistance, and emergency personal services.
All expenses incurred on foreign travel should indicate the exchange rate in effect during the travel period and the traveler’s expense report must report expenses in U.S. dollars. Employees needing assistance in converting their foreign expenses to U.S. dollars may contact Accounts Payable and/or use an online currency conversion tool at www.xe.com.
Employees with additional questions regarding University travel may contact Janet Rowe, extension 5575, or Mary Cosmo, extension 5564.