Spouse Travel Procedure
Spousal Travel Reimbursement Procedure
As a general rule, the University does not reimburse the travel expenses of an employee’s spouse or partner. Exceptions should be rare and must be approved by the President, or in the case of the President’s spouse, the VP for Advancement or the VP for Finance and Treasurer. All spousal travel reimbursement is subject to the policies and taxation rules detailed below.
If the travel expenses for any spouse are reimbursed, the reimbursement is generally taxable to the employee. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that the expenses of a spouse or partner accompanying a traveler cannot be reimbursed tax-free if the person has no significant role or performs only duties of a clerical, secretarial, or medical nature. If the reimbursement is taxable, the value of the reimbursement will be added to the employee’s taxable earnings and the relevant taxes will be withheld from the employee’s paycheck.
The reimbursement can be non-taxable to the employee as a “working condition fringe benefit” if it meets all of the following requirements:
• The spouse’s presence had a bona fide business purpose;
• The expenses can be substantiated;
• The bona fide business purpose is documented along with a list of the specific business activities.
The following roles and situations can be considered a bona fide business purpose:
• Required attendance at business meetings;
• Presentation at business meetings;
• Officially hosting a University event if the host function includes the planning of the event and where attendance is required because the spouse is responsible for certain logistics of the event;
• The primary purpose of the spouse’s attendance is to serve in University business and the spouse spends more time on business activities than on personal activities on the trip;
• The presence of the spouse is essential to the function.
The IRS has a narrow interpretation of a bona fide business purpose and is unlikely to consider the following situations to be a bona fide business purpose:
• Situations where the spouse attends because he or she is “expected” to be present or where the spouse is present primarily to promote generosity or support for the University;
• Situations where the spouse provides incidental business services, such as secretarial services, attending to scheduling matters or attendance at meals;
• Attendance at receptions or dinners or assisting in entertaining students or donors;
• Participation in tourist activities;
• Attendance with children or other family members;
• The presence of the spouse is only beneficial, not essential, to the function/trip.
III. Reimbursement Procedure
Requests for reimbursement of spousal travel expense must be submitted to the Vice President for Finance, or his or her designee, regardless of University payment method used.
Requests for reimbursement by the President’s spouse should be submitted first to the VP of Advancement for clarification of purpose and authorization and then submitted to the VP for Finance, or his or her designee, for processing.
Information should include evidence of the President’s approval, the amount and type of expense, the specific role the spouse held on the trip and/or specific activities of the trip, and if a business purpose is being claimed, the specific activities conducted by the spouse in furtherance of the business purpose.
The VP for Finance will determine the taxability of the expenses to the employee, in conjunction with legal council, as necessary.
An annual report of all spousal travel activity will be submitted to the Audit Committee Chair