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Operating Policy and Procedure

OP 79.08: Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

DATE: March 4, 2014

PURPOSE: The purpose of this Operating Policy and Procedure (OP) is to set forth the policy for reimbursement of travel expenses to Texas Tech University (TTU) employees when travelling for official state business.

REVIEW: This OP will be reviewed in June of odd-numbered years by the Manager of Travel Services, the Managing Director of Procurement Services, and the Managing Director of Sponsored Programs Accounting and Reporting (SPAR) with substantive revisions forwarded to the Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

POLICY/PROCEDURE

1.  Policy Statement

All travel must be for the benefit of the institution. It is the policy of TTU to follow travel requirements as set forth in:

2 CFR Part 220 49 U.S.C. 40118

Internal Revenue Code §§1.62-2

Texas Administrative Code Rule §5.22

General Appropriations Act (GAA) Article IX Part 5

Textravel

The requirements set forth in this policy apply to all official travel, regardless of funding source, and are in addition to those outlined in OP 79.01, Travel Authority and Definitions for Texas Tech University and TTU Employees, and OP 79.05, International Travel. Exceptions for different funding sources are noted within each respective section below.

TTU employees will follow the policies outlined in this OP. TTU student travel for official business is authorized the same as university employees as outlined in this OP; however, state funding is not allowed to be used for student travel (students not employed by the university).

The Managing Director of Procurement Services and/or the Manager of Travel Services have the authority to make any exceptions to this policy that, in his/her determination, are essential for the continued operations of the university and do not violate any federal or state laws.

Travel news and updates will be provided on the Travel Services website at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/procurement/departments/travel-services/, through Procurement Services Forums, and via TechAnnounce.

Individual TTU colleges, schools, institutes, and/or areas/departments may also establish regulations more specific than those required by the state or TTU. However, TTU's travel office is not responsible for enforcement of those regulations.

2.  Definitions

a.    Travel Application–A document used to encumber expenses and request approval for travel in advance of the trip. See OP 79.04, Application for Official Travel, for additional information.

b.    Travel Voucher–An accounting document used to request reimbursement for travel expenses incurred during the discharge of official state business.

c.    Duty Point–The destination, other than the place of employment, to which a state employee travels to conduct official state business. If the destination is outside the employee's designated headquarters, then the duty point is either the incorporated municipality in which the destination is located or the unincorporated area within a five-mile radius of the destination.

d.    Designated Headquarters–The area within the boundaries of the city in which a state employee's place of employment is located. If an employee's place of employment is located within an unincorporated area, then the area within a five-mile radius of the place of employment is the employee's designated headquarters. If an incorporated municipality or an unincorporated area is completely surrounded by the incorporated municipality in which an employee's place of employment is located, then the employee's designated headquarters includes the surrounded municipality or area.

e.    Time of Departure–For air transportation, time of departure is 90 minutes prior to the actual flight departure. For vehicle transportation, the time of departure is when you depart headquarters/residence.

f.    Time of Return–For air transportation, the time of return is the time at which the flight lands at headquarters. For vehicle transportation, the time of return is when you arrive at headquarters/residence

g.    Working Hours–The hours during which a state employee is regularly scheduled to conduct official state business.

h.    State-appropriated Funds–Banner funds 11xxxx-14xxxx.

i.    Institutional Funds–All Banner funds except 11xxxx-14xxxx, including sponsored projects.

j.    Sponsored Projects–Generally, Banner funds 21xxxx-23xxxx.

Refer to OP 79.01, Travel Authority and Definitions for Texas Tech University and TTU Employees, for additional definitions.

3.  Reimbursement Procedures

a.    Travel Application

The approval process for official travel is activated by the submission of an online travel application. The online form must be completed and submitted when reimbursement for travel will be requested, regardless of funding source. Funds are encumbered using a travel application, and the employee is entitled to reimbursement for certain expenses incurred as a result of the performance of official duties. Instructions for completing the travel application are available at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/procurement/resources/training-and-work-aids/. See OP 79.04, Application for Official Travel, for additional information.

b.    Travel Voucher

Employees must complete a travel voucher and worksheet containing the purpose and explanation of travel and attach all required supporting documentation as outlined within each respective section below. Travel vouchers must be completed, approved, and submitted to Travel Services within 30 days of returning to headquarters. When travel advances have been provided, vouchers are due within 15 days. See OP 79.07, Travel Advances, for additional information. Instructions for completing reimbursement requests are available at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/procurement/resources/training-and-work-aids/.

c.    International Travel

International travel requires pre-approval from the Office of International Affairs at least 30 days prior to the departure date. Refer to OP 79.05, International Travel. Expenses incurred in a foreign currency must be converted to USD based on the conversion rate at the time of travel. International travel is not allowable using state appropriated funds.

d.    Group Travel

A group sponsor for student group travel may process travel through the online travel system, obtain a Travel Advance Card (TAC), or use a combination of the two methods.

(1)    A full time employee may act as a group sponsor for student group travel and the travel voucher is submitted under the sponsor's name. There can be more than one group sponsor per trip. A list of the travelers' names and R#s are required on the travel voucher.

(2)   Travel Advance Cards (TAC) are credit cards issued for a specific period of time with a specific dollar amount issued on the card according to the budget provided for student group travel. The TAC is issued to the group sponsor. Refer to the Request for Travel Advance Card for additional information.

(3)    A completed Student Activity Release Form, found in OP 79.13, Attachment B, should be obtained from the student travelers by the group sponsor. The form is retained by the group sponsor and does not need to be turned in with the travel voucher.

e.    Taxable Expenses

In accordance with IRS regulations, travel reimbursements are taxable to the employee when the travel voucher is not submitted to Travel Services within 60 days of the trip end date. Travel Services will report taxable expenses to the Payroll Office.

f.    TPIS Hold

The university is unable to reimburse an employee if the employee is on hold in the state comptroller's Texas Payee Information System (TPIS). (Note: Possible reasons an employee may be on hold include being in default on a student loan, indebted to the state or a state agency, delinquent on state tax, not paying child support, or owing a reimbursement for unemployment taxes.)

g.    Travel on Sponsored Project Funds

A detailed explanation describing the benefit to the scope of the project is required on travel vouchers for sponsored project funds.

4.  Meals and Lodging

a.    General Policies

(1)    Employees may either itemize expenses or claim the allowable per diem; the election made applies to the entire trip. Original receipts are required when requesting reimbursement of actual expenses. When travel expenses are itemized, reimbursement will be made for actual costs, but the reimbursement may not exceed the allowable per diem rates.

(2)    TTU will reimburse meal and lodging expenses one day before and one day after official business begins. Exceptions may be granted when additional travel days are required to qualify for discount airfares or when travel to the duty point reasonably requires more than one day. The Travel Exception Form is required for additional days.

b.    Travel Per Diems

(1)    Meal and lodging reimbursements for in-state and out-of-state travel, but within the contiguous U.S., are limited to the rates set forth by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Employees traveling to localities not specifically listed are limited to the greater of the GSA's standard per diem rates or state of Texas rates.

(2)    Meal and lodging reimbursements for travel to Alaska and Hawaii are limited to the rates set forth by the U.S. Department of Defense.

(3)    Meal and lodging reimbursements for travel outside the contiguous U.S. (other than Alaska and Hawaii) are limited to the rates set forth by the U.S. Department of State.

(4)    Itemized receipts are required for group travel meals or students must sign a form acknowledging receipt of per diem.

(5)    Meal per diems may be reduced and used to increase the maximum lodging reimbursement rate. However, some federal agencies do not allow this practice. Departments are responsible for reviewing the award terms and conditions to determine if it is allowable on sponsored projects.

(6)    If an employee travels to more than one duty point on the same day, then the maximum meal reimbursement for the day is equal to the highest of the maximum rates for the duty points visited. Example: If you travelled to College Station (meal per diem $56) and also to Austin (meal per diem $71), you would be able to claim $71.

(7)    Per diems above the maximum rate may be reimbursed on institutional funds in certain circumstances. However, some federal agencies do not allow this practice. Departments are responsible for reviewing the award terms and conditions to determine if it is allowable on sponsored projects. Requests must be documented on the Travel Exception Form and submitted with the travel voucher. The form must include sufficient documentation of the extenuating circumstances and the requisite approvals.

(8)    For overnight travel instances when the departure time and/or return time results in less than a full day of travel, the following reimbursement policy applies. Departure time is 90 minutes prior to the actual flight time or, for vehicle transportation, it is when you depart headquarters/residence or duty point. Return time is when the flight lands at headquarters or, for vehicle transportation, it is when you arrive at headquarters/residence.

(a)    Breakfast per diem is equal to 20 percent of the allowable daily per diem rate. If departure is prior to 8:00 a.m. and/or return to headquarters is after 9:00 a.m., breakfast may be claimed.

(b)    Lunch per diem is equal to 30 percent of the allowable daily per diem rate. If departure is prior to 12:00 p.m. and/or return to headquarters is after 1:00 p.m., lunch may be claimed.

(c)    Dinner per diem is equal to 50 percent of the allowable daily per diem rate. If departure is prior to 5:00 p.m. and/or return to headquarters is after 7:00 p.m., dinner may be claimed.

c.    Unallowable Meal/Lodging Expenses

(1)    Alcoholic beverages;

(2)    Meals included with conference registrations fees or otherwise already paid by TTU (e.g., charged to the department through other procurement methods);

(3)    Meals or lodging when travel does not require an overnight stay;

(4)    Meals incurred within headquarters unless the expense is mandatory and connected with a training, seminar, and/or conference;

(5)    Meals incurred in accordance with Food and Entertainment policy (see OP 72.05, Expenditures for Official Functions, Business Meetings, and Entertainment); and

(6)    Lodging at a non-commercial establishment (e.g., an establishment that does not provide lodging to the public for pay, such as a relative's residence).

d.    Additional Lodging Requirements

(1)    Lodging receipts are always required with the travel voucher. The lodging receipt must include the name and address of the commercial lodging establishment, the employee's name, the single room rate, and a daily itemization of the lodging charges. The receipt must indicate a zero balance.

(2)    For travel within the state of Texas, TTU employees are exempt from the state hotel occupancy tax. Therefore, TTU will not reimburse an employee for the state hotel tax when the employee fails to present a properly completed Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate to the establishment. However, if the employee presents the certificate to the establishment and the establishment refuses to honor the certificate, the employee will be reimbursed when this explanation is included on the travel voucher. The certificate will need to be signed by the hotel with the refusal statement and turned in with the travel voucher. The Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate is available on the Travel Services website under forms at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/procurement/forms/documents/travel/procurement-texas-hotel-occupancy-tax-exemption-certificate.pdf.

(3)    An apartment or house rental expense may be reimbursed if the purpose of the rental is to lower costs and the employee will be using the apartment or house while conducting official business throughout the term of the lease. Application fees and other mandatory costs associated with applying for rental of the apartment or house are reimbursable. A copy of the lease will be required with the travel voucher. Preapproval should be obtained from Procurement Services prior to the rental commitment.

(4)    Guest lodging procedures through TechBuy may be used for prospective employees (see OP 79.10) and for employees who are not headquartered in Lubbock but are in Lubbock on university business. See the "How To" Guide for guest lodging.

(5)    When two individuals share lodging and both are university employees, TTU will reimburse each employee for his/her share of the lodging expense, not to exceed the maximum per diem rate. When two individuals share lodging and only one of the individuals is a university employee, TTU will reimburse the employee the lesser of the room rate for a single occupancy or the applicable maximum per diem rate.

(6)    Reimbursements for lodging expenses that exceed the per diem rate are allowed on institutional funds when lodging is at the official conference hotel. Documentation to support the hotel is the conference hotel, including the dates of the conference, should be provided when submitting the travel voucher.

(7)    Lodging expenses in excess of the per diem rate (other than conferences) are allowed on institutional funds in certain extenuating circumstances. Requests for reimbursements exceeding the per diem rate require the Travel Exception Form with the travel voucher. Sufficient documentation of the extenuating circumstances and the requisite approvals must be included on the form.

5.  Transportation

Employees must select the most cost effective method of transportation. Travel outside the Texas/New Mexico/Oklahoma area by personal vehicle must be compared to the cost of airfare if purchased at least 30 days in advance of travel. A printed, regular fare ticket for 30-days prior will serve as sufficient documentation.

a.    Personal Vehicle

Employees may be reimbursed for mileage, parking, and tolls when travelling for official business. No other expenses related to the operation of a personally owned or leased vehicle are allowed.

(1)    Mileage reimbursement is limited to the product of the actual number of miles traveled for business and the maximum mileage reimbursement rate as established by the Texas Legislature each year (see Travel Reimbursement Rates).

(a)    The actual miles traveled is determined by point-to-point itemization, documented by either the employee's odometer records or the shortest distance calculated by MapQuest.

(b)    The mileage reimbursement rate is inclusive of all expenses (including damage) associated with the employee's use of his or her vehicle. TTU is not liable for any cost associated with an accident or vehicle damage while conducting university business.

(2)    Employees whose job responsibilities customarily require travel within their designated headquarters may be authorized for a local transportation allowance for this travel. The mileage will be actual miles traveled, using the shortest routes possible, and must be properly itemized on a point-to-point basis, sufficiently detailed enough for TTU to verify that number.

(3)    Coordination of travel must occur when two, three, or four state employees employed by the same department travel on the same dates with the same itinerary to conduct the same official state business. The state agency may reimburse only one of the state employees riding in the personally owned or leased vehicle. When more than four employees from the same department travel on the same itinerary, only one of every four may be reimbursed for mileage. Employees may be reimbursed for mileage incurred to meet or pick up the other employees to coordinate the travel.

(4)    Vehicle travel to/from an airport for travel via commercial airlines is reimbursed as follows:

(a)    Mileage between headquarters and the airport is allowed during working hours.

(b)    Mileage between the employee's residence and the airport is allowed during non-working hours.

(c)    The scheduled flight departure time minus one and one-half hour and the actual arrival time determine whether the travel occurs during working or non- working hours.

b.    Parking and Toll Expenses

Parking and toll expenses are allowed when travelling in a personally owned, leased, or a rented vehicle. Receipts are required for individual parking and toll expenses that exceed $100.00. (Note: Some sponsored projects require receipts for all charges. It is the department's responsibility to understand award terms and conditions.)

c.    Rental Vehicle

(1)    Vehicle rentals are limited to the TTU Rental Car Rates found at https://www.fiscal.ttuhsc.edu/Travel2/ under "Help >> Links." Reimbursement for vehicles that are larger than the standard or full size are allowed on institutional funds in certain extenuating circumstances. The Travel Exception Form must be submitted with the travel voucher and include sufficient documentation and the requisite approvals. The daily rental rate includes both LDW (loss/damage waiver) or comprehensive coverage and liability coverage.

(2)    Vehicle rentals should be obtained using the contract information provided above or processed by a purchase order in TechBuy. If a purchase order is used for the rental, the cost should not be claimed on the travel voucher (see the "How To" Guide on renting vehicles).

(3)    Allowable expenses

(a)    All applicable taxes and mandatory charges;

(b)    Collision and loss damage waiver not included in the contracted rate;

(c)    Charges for an additional driver with a documented business purpose; and

(d)    Fuel (original receipts required).

(4)    Liability supplements, personal accident, safe trip, and personal effects insurance are not reimbursable.

(5)    Receipts must include the rental company name, employee name, rental starting and ending dates, an itemization of the expenses incurred, and proof of payment. If the receipt does not include all of the requisite information, an original contract may be substituted.

d.    Commercial Air

(1)    Employees must obtain the lowest available airfare between the employee's designated headquarters and duty point. State contract rates are available for last minute and/or fully refundable travel requirements.

(2)    First class airfare may be reimbursed only if it is the only available airfare or if it is necessary for international travel. Business class airfare may be paid or reimbursed only if a lower airfare is not available. In these circumstances, a completed Travel Exception Form with requisite approvals is required with the travel voucher.

(3)    Receipts or itineraries must include the airline name, employee name, ticket number, travel dates, origin and destination (for each flight/leg), airfare amount, fare basis code (for travel on state-appropriated funds 11xxx-14xxx), and proof of payment. If the passenger receipt is unavailable, the following may be provided instead:

(a)    A canceled check or credit card slip documenting payment;

(b)    A credit card statement documenting the charge; or

(c)    A copy of the receipt, check, slip, or billing. If the supporting documentation is a copy of the canceled check or the credit card slip or billing, then the employee must include a statement detailing the information required above.

(4)    The baggage fee for the first checked bag is reimbursable. Excess baggage charges are allowable on institutional funds with an approved Travel Exception Form.

(5)    Fly America

The Fly America Act mandates the use of U.S. flag air carriers when travelling internationally on federal funds (i.e., Banner funds beginning with 21). The Fly America Act Waiver Checklist should be used by departments to determine and document whether air travel qualifies for a waiver of these restrictions. The completed checklist must accompany all travel vouchers for trips outside the contiguous United States using federal funds. In the event it is determined that the appropriate air carrier was not used, the expense may be denied or must be transferred to non-sponsored or non-state appropriated funds.

Guidelines for complying with The Fly America Act are available at
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/procurement/resources/training-and-work-aids/documents/travel-services/procurement-fly-america-act.pdf.

e.    Railroad, Bicycle, Boat, or other Vehicle

A university employee may be reimbursed for the actual cost of transportation by railroad, bicycle, boat, or other motor vehicles if it is incurred to conduct state business. The cost is only reimbursable if transportation is provided by a commercial transportation company. The receipt must include the following:

(1)    The name of the commercial transportation company;

(2)    The name of the employee;

(3)    The starting and ending dates of the travel;

(4)    The mode of transportation;

(5)    An itemization of expenses incurred; and

(6)    Proof of payment.

f.    Mass Transit, Taxi, or Limousine

The actual cost of transportation by bus, subway, other mode of mass transit, or taxi if incurred to conduct state business is allowable when it is provided by a commercial transportation company.

(1)    Individual trips must be itemized on the travel voucher, detailing the fare and destination for each trip. Receipts are required for individual transactions exceeding
$100.00.

(2)    If two or more state employees share a taxi, only the employee who paid for the taxi may be reimbursed for that expense.

(3)    Reimbursement for limousine service is allowed only if it was the least costly transportation available considering all relevant circumstances.

6.  Tips and Gratuities

a.    Reimbursements for tips and gratuities incurred during travel for official business are allowed only on institutional funds but are limited to the following amounts:

(1)     Hotel Bellman                 $1.00/bag

(2)     Restaurant staff              20 percent

(3)     Housekeeping staff       $1.00/night

(4)     Valet                                   $2.00

(5)     Other                                 $1.00

(6)     Airport Porters               $1.00/bag

(7)     Taxi Drivers                     20 percent

b.    When lodging establishments and restaurants include a gratuity in the price, an additional, voluntary tip is not reimbursable. Should a gratuity be included by an establishment that is greater than 20 percent, reimbursement will made at the establishment's rate.

7.  Incidental Expenses

An employee may receive reimbursement for the following incidental expenses, provided the business purpose for the expense is sufficiently documented and original receipts are provided.

a.    Local and long distance phone calls;

b.    Money orders;

c.    Currency exchange fees;

d.    Notary fees;

e.    Travel agency service charges;

f.    Visa, passport, and departure taxes;

g.    Mandatory service charges imposed for meals or lodging;

h.    Postage/freight, photocopies, and fax charges;

i.    Repair parts, labor, and towing charges to repair state-owned vehicles if unable to use the university Fleet Card; and

j.    Travel expenses incurred to obtain medical care outside headquarters while on official state travel.

Note: Visa and passport charges may not be an allowable direct cost on all sponsored projects. Departments are responsible for reviewing the agency and award terms and conditions and consulting the respective grant accountant in SPAR to determine if allowable.

Personal expenses including entertainment, dry cleaning or laundry, medical supplies, childcare, or kennel expenses for a pet will not be reimbursed. Business related expenses that are allowable may require the Travel Exception Form.

8.  Registration/Membership Fees

Conference registrations and membership fees should be paid through a purchase order or on a procurement card when possible. Reimbursement is allowable when the fees are charged to the employee's travel card or paid from the employee's personal funds. A receipt must accompany the travel voucher. Membership fees must be processed in accordance with OP 72.16, Memberships.

Meals included in the registration fees must be deducted from the daily per diem. Entertainment or other personal expense items included in the registration fee are not allowable and must be deducted from the reimbursement request.

9.  Cancellation Charges

Reimbursements for cancellation charges associated with any advance travel expenses are limited to reasons of natural disaster, illness, or personal emergencies.

10.  Travel to Washington, D.C.


University personnel who travel to Washington, D.C. for activities that involve obtaining or spending federal funds or that impact federal policies must inform the Office of State-Federal Relations (OSFR) about the trip (GAA Article IX, Section 6.12). Contact the Office of International Affairs for additional information.

If an employee is traveling on state-appropriated funds, he/she must also complete the Report of State Agency Travel to Washington DC and submit with his/her travel voucher. The form is available at http://governor.state.tx.us/osfr/forms/state_funded_DC_travel/.

11.  Traveler Responsibilities

a.    Complete travel applications in advance of travel.

b.    Complete travel vouchers within 15/30 days of return.

c.    Ensure reimbursement requests comply with federal regulations, sponsored project award terms and conditions, state law, and institutional policy.

d.    Ensure reimbursement requests only include expenses actually incurred and reimbursable as set forth in this OP.

e.    Promptly reimburse TTU when travel reimbursements exceed allowable amounts and/or amounts actually incurred. Failure to do so will result in future travel being suspended until the overpayment has been returned.

Operating Policies & Procedures