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Travel and Other Expense Policies

Table of Contents

I. GENERAL OVERVIEW

A. Purpose

B. General Policies

II. SPECIFIC EXPENSE POLICIES

A. Transportation and Insurance

1. Travel arrangements

2. Air transportation

a) Business travel insurance

b) Frequent flyer miles

3. Saturday night stay

4. International travel

5. Currency exchange and ATM fees

6. Automobile transportation (Mileage rate)

a) Personal vehicle

b) Rental car

c) Driver

d) Local (in-town) travel

B. Lodging

1. General

2. Gratuities for hosts

C. Alcohol, Meals, and Entertainment

1. General

2. Alcohol

3. Traveler’s meals

4. Business meals and meetings

a) Employee only business meals

b) Occasional employee banquets and functions

c) Recruiting and other business meals

d) Alcohol in conjunction with business meals

e) Illustrative examples of business meals

f) Illustrative example of a meal which is NOT a business meal

5. Business entertainment

a) What is business entertainment

b) Alcohol in conjunction with entertainment

c) Illustrative examples of business entertainment expenses

d) Illustrative example of an entertainment expense which is NOT a business entertainment expense

6. Gifts

a) Meals for Student Workers

b) Department Majors

c) Gifts: Flowers

d) Gift Cards

e) Charitable and Political Contributions

7. Telephone

a) General

b) Cell phones

8. Non-Reimbursable expenses

III. PAYMENT AND REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES

A. Corporate Credit Card Program

B. Cash Advances

C. Travel Expense Reports

1. Timelines

2. Supporting documentation

3. Authorization

I.  GENERAL OVERVIEW

A.  Purpose 

The purpose of these Travel and Other Expense Policies is to provide employees with specific guidelines covering University travel and other business expenses as well as the documentation required to substantiate requests for reimbursement of those expenses.

Because the revenue the University receives from students and from donors is intended to support the University's mission of educating students, we cannot spend University funds on items that it would be hard to describe as directly related to that mission. The IRS is increasingly scrutinizing the expenditure policies and practices of non-profit organizations, particularly higher education. Items that a corporation may routinely pay for out of its profits are often inappropriate for a non-profit entity. In the environment of rising tuition rates, we are conscious that the external public is looking at higher education's management of resources. 

All funds received by the University, regardless of source, are University funds and must be managed in accordance with University policy. The uses of grant funds are further restricted by applicable laws, the rules and regulations of the granting entity, and the terms and conditions of the grant.

The Internal Revenue Service has issued Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses. In the regulations, the IRS states that reimbursements for ordinary and necessary business related expenses are not considered taxable compensation when made under an accountable plan policy. Ordinary is defined as "common in your field of trade, business or profession"; and necessary as "helpful and appropriate for your business".

These regulations require that the University maintain a policy under which employees must account for all advances, allowances, and other reimbursements of expenses.  This accounting must include:

  • Sufficient information to establish the business purpose of the travel, entertainment, or other expenditure
  • An adequate record of each expenditure including the amount, date, and place
  • Substantiation of expenditures with original receipts
  • The return of any unused monies from cash advances

The IRS states that meals, hotels and entertainment expenses cannot be "lavish or extravagant". Employees should bear in mind that government agencies and other observers such as parents and students may perceive certain expenditures as being either excessive or inappropriate in the context of a regulatory audit, an IRS audit, or other similar review of University activities. Thus, moderation and discretion should guide travelers' decisions to incur expenses on the University's behalf. 

Employees must keep track of their expenses and substantiate the expenses by submitting adequate supporting documentation to the Finance office within a reasonable period of time. Any amounts paid to an employee that are not accounted for and substantiated in this way must be included in the employee's income and are subject to payroll tax withholding. In addition, if federal grant funding is used, employees must adhere to all regulations as outlined in the grant.

As a general guideline, it is expected that travelers and individuals approving travel vouchers will interpret these policies in a manner that keeps expenses to a minimum and fairly assigns the costs of business-related activities to the University. Accordingly, the primary responsibility for adherence to these policies rests with the departments and supervisors who are authorizing travel and approving expense reimbursements. 

B.  General Policies

  • These guidelines apply to all University employees traveling on University business. Faculty travel funded by federal grants must also comply with federal travel regulations as outlined in their individual grant proposal and in OMB Circular A-21.

  • The University will only reimburse expenses incurred in connection with University business that are appropriately documented by the employee and submitted in a timely manner. The basic policy governing travel expenses is that an individual should neither gain nor lose funds in the course of conducting University business.
  • The intent of the travel policy is to reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred while on University business that would not otherwise be incurred. Expenses that are of a personal nature, or expenses that would be incurred whether or not the employee was on University business, are not eligible for reimbursement. 
  • Reimbursement will be on the basis of actual and reasonable expenses incurred for transportation, meals, lodging and other necessary business expenses.  A per diem travel reimbursement allowance is not available. 
  • Employees are expected to adhere to the laws in effect for the state or country to which they are traveling.  Fees or fines incurred due to legal infractions (such as parking fines, speeding tickets, etc.) are the responsibility of the employee. The University will not reimburse such fees or fines. 
  • The University is not responsible for the loss of personal property while on a business trip.  Any personal property brought on a business trip that is lost or stolen may be covered by the employee's homeowners or renters insurance subject to the limitations of the policy.
  • Discounts are often available through AAA, AARP, and other personal and professional organizations. The University cannot pay for personal memberships, but if these discounts are available to the employee the University encourages the employee to utilize them and appreciates the effort to minimize travel costs. 
  • Employees who travel frequently should request a University Commercial Card. Requests are available on the Finance office web page and must be approved by the department's Cabinet member. 
  • Travel Expense Reimbursement Forms, Commercial Credit Card statements, and Accounts Payable Vouchers paid to individuals must be signed by the traveler (if a University employee) and approved by the traveler's immediate supervisor.  Fiscal Managers may sign an expense reimbursement in the capacity of the supervisor if it is not a reimbursement to themselves or a superior. 
  • The University will not provide travel advances, nor make reimbursements for the travel expenses of spouses who accompany faculty or other employees on University business. 
  • Employees who choose to incorporate personal travel with business travel must prorate the costs and provide documentation proving the business portion. 
  • Exceptions to this policy can only be granted when they relate to issues that are not dictated by IRS regulations.  Exceptions must be approved by the supervisor (or their appropriate designee), the applicable Cabinet member and the Finance office. 

II. SPECIFIC EXPENSE POLICIES

A. Transportation and Insurance

1. Travel arrangements

Employees are free to choose the travel agent they wish to work with or deal directly with the airlines/hotels or purchase transportation/lodging online.  However, the University recommends the use of Sanditz Travel (Wesleyan x 2187 or see the Purchasing website for additional information) when booking travel reservations for air, hotel and car rental for those travelers who do not have a University Commercial Card and prefer not to use a personal credit card.  Sanditz Travel will bill airfare directly to the department based on the account number provided and deliver itinerary and tickets directly to the traveler.

It is now common practice for travel agencies to charge a fee for their service. Employees should be aware of this fee, as it can be quite high. Employees should weigh the fee against the expense of doing the travel research on their own and other benefits provided by the travel agent.

When attending a conference or professional meeting, employees should check the group airfare rate negotiated by the event sponsor. Often, these group rates are quite a bit lower than fares that can be obtained directly from the airlines or through a local agent.

Discounts are often available through AAA, AARP, and other personal and professional organizations. The University cannot pay for personal memberships, but, if these discounts are available the University encourages the employee to use them and appreciates the effort to minimize travel costs.

2. Air Transportation

The University will reimburse the cost of airplane tickets in coach class only, unless scheduling or a medical condition necessitates other arrangements.  All efforts should be made to obtain the "lowest logical airfare".  This is defined as the lowest coach fare available for flights within three hours before or after the requested departure or arrival time that does not: 

  • Exceed a 2-hour layover time.
  • Increase the one way elapsed trip time by more than 2 hours.
  • Include more than one connection in the traveler's one way route. 

In the event a non-refundable ticket has to be canceled, the airlines will charge a fee and issue a credit that has to be used by that employee within the year. Penalties can be quite high. The benefit of locking into a fare should be weighed against the risk of having to make changes in travel plans before purchasing a ticket. If there is a health or business reason for a cancellation that incurs a penalty, the penalty is eligible for reimbursement only once it is documented and approved by both a Cabinet member and the Finance office.

Most airlines have instituted and strictly enforce new rules regarding the number, size and weight of bags allowed for each passenger. Employees should be aware of these rules and make sure they are in compliance with the rules. Extra baggage charges and charges for personal items (i.e. golf clubs) will not be reimbursed by the University.

  1. Business Travel Insurance
    The University corporate card provides lost luggage insurance up to $3,000.  Additional information on this program can be found in the Visa Lost Luggage Reimbursement Program.
  2. Frequent Flyer Miles
    Employees may retain frequent flyer miles earned while on University business, however, employees must always travel on the least expensive airline, not the airline with which they have a frequent flyer relationship. Excess cost due to the use of an employee's preferred airline will not be reimbursed. It is inappropriate for the University to "pay for" or "buy" employee frequent flyer tickets. If an employee uses a frequent flyer ticket for business travel they cannot be reimbursed for it in any way.

3.  Saturday Night Stay

When the savings generated by traveling and staying over a Saturday night exceed the cost of lodging and meals for a pre- or post-business period, the University encourages the employee to make the Saturday night stay.  Entertainment and other personal expenses (including health club fees) incurred by the employee during this period, or at any other time, will not be covered by the University. Please provide a worksheet showing the airfare with and without the Saturay night stay and the hotel/meal costs for the additional days to document the savings.

4.  International Travel

The University will reimburse for the cost of coach transportation. In the rare circumstance where there is a health or business reason why an employee must upgrade to business class, such an upgrade must be documented and approved by their Cabinet member and must be documented.

Travelers who are using federal funds from Grants must be aware that there is a statutory requirement for use of U.S. Flag carriers, whether or not the U.S. carrier is more expensive than a foreign carrier.

5.  Currency Exchange and ATM fees

The University will reimburse employees for currency exchange fees. Employees are encouraged to pay for meals, hotels and purchases on their corporate credit card as the cards often offer the safest and most economical exchange conversion. The University discourages employees from carrying large amounts of cash while traveling. In most cases, using an ATM will provide an excellent exchange rate and will reduce the amount of cash the employee has on his/her person. ATM fees for cash withdrawals will be reimbursed. Traveler's checks are a good, safe method of bringing money on a trip although the fees involved with obtaining traveler's checks can be high.

6.  Automobile Transportation

The University has various types of vehicles that may be used by employees for business travel. Employees should contact Transportation Services to determine how their business transportation needs can best be met. Depending on the circumstances employees may either: 

  • rent a University fleet vehicle
  • be driven in a University vehicle by a driver
  • use a local limo service
  • rent a vehicle through a local commercial agency
  • use their own vehicle

Please see the Transportation Services website for details.

The University will reimburse transportation costs to the extent such costs exceed the normal daily cost to commute to their office. The University will reimburse for business miles driven in a personal vehicle at a rate of $0.56 cents per mile effective July 1, 2014. This rate is updated on a fiscal year basis every July.

Personal Vehicle

If an employee uses their personal vehicle for business travel, they can request mileage reimbursement for the mileage traveled above their normal daily commute. To obtain mileage reimbursement, a travel expense reimbursement form must be completed stating the destination and actual mileage traveled. Mileage reimbursement may never exceed the cost of available alternate transportation, i.e. the reimbursement for mileage cannot exceed the lowest train or airfare available. In cases where the employee elects to drive rather than travel by plane or train, the lower of the available alternatives will be reimbursed to the employee. Employees cannot request reimbursement for gas in personal vehicles... the mileage rate includes compensation for gas and depreciation.

It is important for employees to be aware that the University's commercial automobile insurance policy provides liability coverage on a secondary basis only when the employee uses a personal vehicle while traveling on University business. Since the vehicle owner's insurance policy always will provide the primary liability coverage, the University's policy will provide coverage only after the limits of the primary insurance policy are exhausted. The University will not provide reimbursement for the deductibles associated with the primary insurance under these circumstances.

The University's commercial automobile policy cannot provide collision or comprehensive coverage when an employee's vehicle is used for business travel. The vehicle owner's policy will provide the only coverage for these types of claims. The University will not reimburse for these losses.

Any employee involved in an accident while on University business should contact the Associate Vice President for Finance, x2833, as soon as possible.

Rental Car

Employees should rent a car only when it is required for daily use at the business destination or there is no other less expensive means of transportation from the airport/train station to the business destination. If an employee rents a car for one week and uses the car partially for business and partially for personal use, the weekly cost of the car must be prorated. Employees should rent the most economical vehicle consistent with business needs and travel circumstances.  You are advised to investigate the fuel policy of the rental agency to avoid excessive refueling charges upon return of the automobile.   Employees will be reimbursed for actual gas charges only and cannot request mileage reimbursement when traveling in a rental car. 

For out-of-town trips, the University recommends Sanditz Travel for your reservations to ensure best available rates.  For in-town and local trips of short duration within driving distance of the campus, the University recommends Enterprise Rent-a-Car (1-800-243-3722).  Enterprise has extended preferred rates to the University for all Connecticut locations.   

Automobiles should be rented using a University Commercial Credit Card. If you expect to be renting a car either in Middletown or out of town and do not have a corporate credit card please contact Tami Sabo to discuss obtaining a card. 

If you rent a car using a University corporate card you should: 

  • Decline the physical damage waiver (also known as collision damage waiver).
  • Decline the waiver of liability for damage.
  • Adhere to ALL conditions of the rental agreement for operating the vehicle.

NOTE: The vehicle rented needs to be driven either by the cardholder or an "additional driver" identified/listed on the rental agreement. If this does not happen then the physical damage coverage by the credit card will be voided.  

Additional corporate card benefits can be found in the Visa Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Program. 

If you are not using a University credit card:  

  • Accept the physical damage waiver only. The University's commercial automobile policy will provide liability coverage.

The maximum length of coverage for daily and/or weekly rates and the maximum coverage per claim should be discussed with each rental agency. All claims must be reported within 30 days of the accident. 

Employees should be aware that only listed drivers are covered by insurance and there are additional charges for additional drivers to be eligible to drive rental cars. Employees must make sure that all potential drivers are listed and be aware that if those additional drivers are not employees the additional cost is not reimbursable. 

Driver

In some cases it is most economical to hire a driver to transport an employee to the airport or train station. The cost of the driver should be weighed against the mileage/parking costs or the length of time a University vehicle would be tied up at the airport/station. There are many categories of drivers available. However, please check with Transportation Services prior to hiring a driver to see if they can meet the transportation needs. 

If a "limo" or taxi services is used the University will pay for business purposes only. Each service has a set fee for transportation to various cities (Albany, Boston, and NYC). The employee is asked to sign an invoice at the conclusion of the trip. Employees who choose to leave the driver a tip should so indicate that on the invoice. Tips should be reasonable (15% - 20%). The transportation service will bill the employee and an accounts payable voucher must be submitted to the Finance office.

In many cases the cost of an individual taking the airport shuttle to their hotel is often far less than the cost of that individual riding in a cab. When time permits, individuals should explore utilizing airport/hotel shuttles. 

When airport/hotel shuttles are not available the cost of a taxi will be reimbursed. Limos and other luxury vehicles will not be covered. 

Local (in-town) Travel

Employees should limit the business travel related to in-town "errands" as much as possible. The University will not reimburse for local travel if it is taken in conjunction with morning or evening commutes or during lunch. If local travel becomes necessary as determined by the supervisor, the employee can request reimbursement if the per trip mileage exceeds five miles per day.  

B. Lodging

1. General

The University will reimburse the actual cost for average accommodations up to the single occupancy rate. The IRS states that expenditures for lodging cannot be lavish or extravagant. 

Movies and other entertainment charged to the room will not be reimbursed and should not be charged to the University corporate card. Health Club charges, golf and other personal services will not be reimbursed. Use of the hotel mini-bar is strongly discouraged due to the high mark up of the items. When traveling with a companion the employee is responsible for any additional charges above single occupancy.  

The detailed itemized bill from the hotel must be submitted as supporting documentation. In addition, the detailed bill for any restaurant expenses charged to the room must be submitted. 

2.  Gratuities for Hosts

When it is convenient and preferred by the employee, staying with friends can save the University money. When approved by the Department Head prior to the trip, the reasonable cost of a gift or a meal in return for such hospitality is reimbursable. The cost of such gift or meal must be supported by a receipt and clearly explained on the travel report. The cost of the meal or gift plus any additional transportation costs must never exceed the cost of standard accommodations at the business destination, nor can a "cash payment" be made to the host.

C.  Alcohol, Meals and Entertainment

1.  General

The purpose of this section is to define:  (1) which alcohol, meals, and entertainment expenses are reimbursable, and (2) which reimbursable expenses may be allowable as either a direct or indirect expense of federally sponsored projects. 

2.  Alcohol

The federal government has mandated that no alcohol may be charged as either a direct or indirect expense of federally sponsored projects. This mandate means that under no circumstances should alcohol be charged directly to a federal grant or contract account. Furthermore, any alcohol charged to other University accounts must be clearly segregated in the accounting records so that the charges can be identified and excluded from the computation of indirect costs.  If alcohol charges conform to the guidelines outlined in the following policy sections, it may be reimbursable; however, it must always be charged separately to account code 84535.   

3.  Traveler's meals

The University will reimburse travelers for the reasonable costs of their own meals incurred during the time they are away from home that are not otherwise paid for or provided (as distinguished from entertainment expenses or local business meals described in sections 4 and 5). The University expects that travelers will spend no more than $75 for domestic meals and incidentals per day ($100 for international), including tips, regardless of locations. This is the amount considered adequate to cover the daily costs of meals and incidentals; it is not a flat amount for per diem reimbursement. 

Only actual costs for meals are reimbursed; therefore, if the total spent for a day is less than $75 domestic ($100 international), only the lower, actual costs will be reimbursed. Note: Receipts are required for any meal expense greater than $20 unless specific department policy is more restrictive. See Part III for additional information regarding supporting documentation.

While it is not encouraged, it is understood that a limited amount of alcohol in connection with a traveler's dinner is reimbursable within the allowed daily amount for meals of $75. Alcoholic beverages consumed by travelers between or after mealtimes are not considered meals and are not reimbursable, except if they qualify as necessary entertainment expenses described in Section 5.   

The University discourages use of the hotel mini-bar due to the high mark up of the items. 

When a meal is included in the cost of a conference, the University will not reimburse the employee for the cost of a meal taken during that period (i.e. if employee chooses not to attend the provided lunch, the University will not pay for an alternative lunch taken). 

When the traveler is claiming reimbursement for meals purchased for non-Wesleyan personnel, these meals should be considered "Business meals" rather than "Travel meals," and detail must be provided concerning the names of the other diners and the business purpose for hosting the meal as outlined in the guidelines on business meals in section 4. If an employee is traveling with other University employees they are still subject to $75 per day domestic ($100 international) per individual. If one employee chooses to pay for the group, the reimbursement request or commercial card documentation must clearly indicate the names of the employees at the meal. 

4.  Business Meals and Meetings

Unless otherwise noted, if a business meal or meeting qualifies as an allowable expenses according to the following sections, Wesleyan will pay up to the following amounts, per person. Amounts include tax and gratuities:

  • Dinner: $50, including alcohol.  
  • Lunch: $25.
  • Breakfast: $20.  
  • Note that alcohol is not covered for breakfast or lunch.
  1. Employee only business meals
    In cases where University employees meet over a meal when they are not traveling, the cost of the meal is considered a non-reimbursable personal expense unless:  1) the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct business, and 2) there is a clear and compelling reason to meet outside the office over a meal.  Generally, these requirements are met when it is not possible for one or more employees to meet during other working hours, and the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda.  IRS regulations do not allow for the reimbursement of meal charges incurred by employees who are not traveling away from home unless the above criteria are met and there is a clear benefit to the University.  The employee must adequately document these criteria on the expense reimbursement request or commercial credit card statement (i.e.  persons in attendance, formal agenda, benefit to the University). 

    It is permissible to incur expenses chargeable to the University for meals provided as part of a local conference, seminar, workshop, presentation or other similar group meeting involving employees when it extends through the usual mealtime(s).  Such meals must be reasonable in relation to the nature and purpose of the meeting. 
  2. Occasional Employee Banquets and Functions
    Occasional "generally, annual or semi-annual" functions for employees are considered reimbursable business expenses when the expenditure is not lavish or excessive and is intended to serve as a token of appreciation that primarily promotes employee relations, or that recognizes individual or group achievements, such as employee banquets, etc.  Such parties must be pre-approved by a Cabinet Officer and are not to exceed $10 per Wesleyan employee. Occasions such as holiday parties or those that celebrate births, marriages, etc. or small in-office functions with purchased food or beverages are generally paid for by the employees involved. When hosting these types of events, please be conscious of the potential external scrutiny of the University's expenditures in support of its primary mission of educating students.
  3. Recruiting and other business meals
    Expenses for dining involving non-University personnel are reimbursable when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct University business and when it is necessary or desirable to have the meeting in conjunction with, or during, a meal. Expenses for such meals should be kept at a reasonable level. The typical business meal might involve interviews of prospective employees, discussions with vendors, consultants, or other persons with whom the University does business, or meetings of organizations and groups at which agenda items pertinent to University business are covered. Inclusion of spouses or other individuals who are not directly involved in conducting University business or consumption of alcohol are general indications that the occasion is not a business meal, but an entertainment function (see Section 5). 
  4. Alcohol in conjunction with business meals
    While not encouraged, alcohol is reimbursable as a business expense (as distinguished from an entertainment expense described in Section 5) when served at University functions primarily intended to promote employee relations. Such functions would include faculty receptions, and the like. When alcohol has been deemed a legitimate business expense, it must be separately charged to object code 84535.

Illustrative examples of business meals

  • The University invites a renowned scientist to deliver a paper. The sponsoring department provides coffee and pastries during a break before a related question-and-answer session. The cost of the refreshments is an appropriate reimbursable expense. 
  • The senior officers organize a retreat to discuss the University's three-year financial plan. There is a continental breakfast and lunch. The purpose of the meeting is to conduct business and food and beverages are served throughout the day. The costs of this function are appropriate reimbursable expenses as a business meal. 
  • The President holds a reception and dinner to welcome new faculty. The cost would be considered a reimbursable business expense; however any alcohol must be segregated and charged to account code 84535. The same would be true for retirement parties and award banquets. Segregation of non-essential amenities is mandated by Federal Regulation for Indirect Cost Reimbursement. 
  • University staff eat a meal with colleagues from peer institutions to exchange ideas and collaborate on a consortia initiative. This is an appropriate business meal expense provided that it is not social in nature and the primary purpose was to conduct business according to a clearly defined agenda. 

Illustrative example of a meal which is not a business meal

  • Two University employees decide to get together to discuss business over lunch at the Inn at Middletown. The cost of lunch is a personal expense. The IRS exception to this provides that only if it was necessary to meet to address specific issues and they were not able to arrange a meeting in the office would the expense be reimbursable. 

5.  Business Entertainment

What is business entertainment?

Meals and functions are considered entertainment if they are intended to provide hospitality to non-University employees which, although partially social in nature, are deemed necessary and customary in furthering the University's business interests. 

Examples of business entertainment include: 

  • Receptions for University guests and visitors;
  • Alumni reunions or similar alumni functions;
  • Entertaining donors or prospective donors; and,
  • Welcoming receptions for parents and students. 

Entertainment expenses should be reasonable in relation to the nature of the function and the resulting business benefit expected to be derived from the expenditures. IRS regulations require that these expenses not be lavish or excessive. Keep in mind that this interpretation might be construed differently by the IRS and other University constituents such as parents and donors than it would be for a for profit corporation. A description (either a list of names or identification of the hosted group) and the total number in attendance at an entertainment function must be indicated on the reimbursement request along with the business purpose of the entertainment.   

Alcohol in conjunction with entertainment

If it is deemed appropriate to include alcohol at University entertainment functions, it must be separately charged to account code 84535. 

Illustrative examples of business entertainment expenses

  • After a business meeting, the department holds a reception for a visiting scientist where beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres are served. This cost is considered entertainment, and alcohol must be separately charged to account code 84535. 
  • University staff go out to dinner with a potential donor. The dinner would be considered a reimbursable expense as long as there is a reasonable expectation that the University will receive benefit from the expense and it is not considered lavish or excessive by IRS standards. 

Illustrative example of an entertainment expense which is not a business entertainment expense

  • After dinner some members of the peer group go out to a local nightclub. The costs incurred for cover charges and/or alcohol is the personal responsibility of the traveler. 

6. Gifts

Meals for Student Workers

While we understand the desire to show appreciation for student workers, University funds cannot be used to take work-study or office workers out for meals or to purchase thank you gifts. It is recommended that your department take up a collection to take your students(s) out to lunch or to purchase a gift of appreciation or congratulations.

Department Majors

Gifts for departmental majors (including those awarded honors or prizes) are allowable up to $25 and should be educational in nature (e.g., books).

Gifts: Flowers

In the event of death of a faculty or staff member's immediate family member, the University allows an amount of $100 for flowers/gift baskets/memorials to be sent to the employee. Anything above $100 should be covered in advance by faculty/staff contributions.

Gift Cards

Gift certificates and gift cards are considered cash equivalents for IRS purposes: their value constitutes taxable income. We discourage purchasing gift cards for this reason, but if a gift certificate is given to an employee (including students) the supervisor should advise Payroll (payroll@wesleyan.edu) so that the person's next paycheck will have the income tax for the value of the gift card deducted from his/her salary.

Charitable and Political Contributions

Charitable and Political contributions are not allowable expenses. Do not use university funds for these purposes.

7. Telephone

General

All business calls made while away from the office will be reimbursed. Reasonable calls to the home will also be reimbursed (i.e. one call per day of reasonable length). Direct long distance calls from the hotel room are extremely expensive and should be avoided. Employees are encouraged to use a calling card, phone credit card or cell phone. When an employee uses his/her personal phone calling card an accounts payable voucher should be submitted with a copy of the bill when received.  

Cell phones

The Wesleyan University cell phone policy can be found at Cell Policy

8.  Non-reimbursable expenses

The following items will NOT be reimbursed by the University: 

  • Fines for parking or moving violations
  • Personal vehicle repairs/routine maintenance or locksmith charges
  • Movies, health club fees, golf, other personal entertainment
  • Laundry services (if trip is less than five days)
  • Lost or stolen personal property (including cash)
  • Costs incurred at home, such as childcare, pet care or lawn/home maintenance
  • Personal expenses such as haircut, toiletries, clothing, etc.
  • Costs incurred due to unreasonable failures to cancel transportation or hotel reservations
  • Companion expenses (including travel, meals and additional driver costs on rental cars)
  • Life, flight or baggage insurance
  • Excess baggage charges for personal items (i.e. golf clubs, skis) 
  • Unnecessarily excessive costs (i.e. very expensive restaurants or exclusive hotels) not warranted by the circumstances. The IRS states that expenditures for meals/lodging cannot be lavish or extravagant.
  • Charitable or political contributions  

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive. Other items may be deemed non-reimbursable upon review. 

III. PAYMENT AND REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES 

In general, the University discourages employees from carrying large amounts of cash. The University participates in a commercial credit card program to provide a means of charging business expenses. In the case where cash is required, employees can either use personal funds and be reimbursed, use petty cash, or request a cash advance.  Please see separate policies related to Travel Advances and University Commercial Cards. 

If the travel destination does not accept credit cards or the employee will not have access to an ATM, the University encourages employees to purchase traveler's checks. The fees to purchase traveler's checks are reimbursable. Discounts may also be available through AAA, credit union, or other personal or professional organizations. 

If another organization pays for the expenses and invoices the University for payment, it is requested using an accounts payable voucher and is subject to University policy.  All payments to individuals related to travel, even if the individual is not a University employee (i.e. recruitment), must be requested on a travel expense form.   

The following are examples of payments and the required form: 

Requesting a travel advance

Advance Request Form and Accounts Payable Voucher to Tami Sabo

Clearing a travel advance

Travel Expense Reimbursement Form to Tami Sabo

Reimbursement to employee for travel

Travel Expense Reimbursement Form to Accounts Payable

Mileage alone

Travel Expense Reimbursement Form to Accounts Payable

Reimbursement to employee for local functions

Accounts Payable Voucher to Accounts Payable

Reimbursement to non-employee

Travel Expense Reimbursement Form to Accounts Payable

Reimbursement to non-US citizens

Travel Expense Reimbursement Form to Christine Rodrigue

Reimbursement to another organization

Accounts Payable Voucher to Accounts Payable

Commercial credit card

Statement to Tami Sabo

A.  CORPORATE CREDIT CARD PROGRAM (Related to Travel and Entertainment)

The entire Corporate Card policy can be found at www.wesleyan.edu/finance/financeDept/pcard/pcardpolandproc. The IRS requires all travel and business expenses, including those charged to JP Morgan Credit Cards, to be documented and supported in accordance with an accountable plan similar to all other travel and business expense reimbursements. Therefore, all travel and entertainment expenses paid for with the credit card are subject to the same standards described in this policy for reimbursement. JP Morgan corporate cardholders are required to submit their statements to Finance each month with original receipts. Refer to the JP Morgan PCard policy for specific timelines and procedures related to the card. 

Original receipts must be submitted with the credit card statement for all expenditures related to travel that are greater than $20 (unless specific department policy is more restrictive).  Original receipts must explicitly identify the following:  

  • Vendor
  • Date
  • Location
  • Amount and tender of payment
  • Description of materials, service, meal, entertainment etc.

Credit card slips, statements, photocopies, and faxes are not valid receipts. If a vendor is unable to provide a valid receipt upon purchase, please have them complete the receipt statement and attach it to the credit card statement. If a purchase is made online, acceptable forms of documentation should include an itemization of the charges and proof of payment. 

The IRS requires that business purpose of all travel and entertainment expenditures be documented in addition to the submission of receipts. This documentation can be either on the face of the statement, on each receipt, or using the sample form. If the traveler is attending a conference, please provide the conference itinerary. 

When dining or entertaining, the following documentation is required: 

  • List of attendees (self if alone)
  • Description of business purpose, topics discussed
  • Description of meal (i.e. lunch, dinner)
  • Description of entertainment (i.e. theatre)  

B. Cash Advances

When absolutely necessary, advances for the estimated cost of a business trip are available. Requests should be made between14 and 30 days prior to the trip and the advance must be cleared within 30 days after returning from the trip. No new advance will be given until the previous advance is cleared. The IRS requires that advances must be cleared within a reasonable timeframe or they are subject to taxation. Please refer to the following website for additional information on obtaining a University Advance www.wesleyan.edu/finance/financeDept/advances

C.  Travel Expense Reports

To obtain reimbursement for out of pocket travel expenses (those NOT charged to a University credit card or directly billed to the University) complete the Travel Expense Reimbursement Form obtained from the Accounts Payable office.  If a travel advance was used for the travel the form must first go to Tami Sabo in the Finance office.  Travel using grant or other individual research funds must be forwarded to the Grants office for additional approval. 

Note: Academic Affairs requires a Travel Expense Report to include all travel expenses associated with a trip - including PCard Expenses.

1.  Timelines

All travel expense reimbursements must be requested within thirty days from the date of travel return. Failure to adhere to this timeline could result in denial of the reimbursement request or taxation of the payment. The University will not reimburse individuals for any interest charges resulting from failure to submit expense reports on a timely basis. 

2. Supporting Documentation

In order for the payment to be considered a non-taxable reimbursement, the IRS requires that all requests for reimbursement of travel and entertainment expenses be supported by the documentation described below. Business purpose of the expense must be provided for each transaction or group of related transactions. Business purpose can be either written on the travel expense form, each individual receipt or using the sample form. Sufficient evidence of business purpose should include:  

  • List of attendees (self if alone)
  • Description of business purpose, topics discussed
  • Description of meal (i.e. lunch, dinner)
  • Description of entertainment (i.e. theatre)

If the traveler is attending a conference, the conference itinerary should be attached. Original itemized receipts are required for all travel expenses greater than $20. Important: This does not apply to reimbursements to non-resident aliens. All reimbursements to a non-resident alien require a receipt. A valid receipt is one that indicates at least the following:

  • Vendor
  • Date 
  • Location
  • Amount and tender of payment
  • Description of materials, service, meal, entertainment etc. 

Credit card slips, statements, photocopies, and faxes are not valid receipts. If a vendor is unable to provide a valid receipt upon purchase, please have them complete the receipt statement and attach it to the travel expense report. If a purchase is made online, acceptable forms of documentation must include an itemization of the charges and proof of payment. 

Please convert expenditures in a foreign currency, supported by a receipt, at the exchange rate of the date of the expense report, within ten working days of return. Use the following web site www.x-rates.com/calculator.html exchange rate for that date.

Authorization for missing receipts should be an exception, not a general practice. If a receipt is missing, alternative documentation will be considered (i.e. proof of payment, detailed explanation). If the traveler is no longer on campus, emailed descriptions are acceptable. Employees who frequently fail to submit receipts are subject to denial of reimbursement for undocumented expenses.

3.  Authorization

The University's policy requires supervisor approval for travel and business expenses, including signature approval on travel expense reports and JP Morgan PCard reconciliations. The traveler and direct supervisor or department head must sign the travel expense reports.  Fiscal Managers may sign a travel expense reimbursement in the capacity of the supervisor if it is not a reimbursement to themselves or a superior.