Travel Reimbursement Policy Presentation

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Harvard University Travel & Reimbursement Policy Briefing: 

Harvard University Travel & Reimbursement Policy Briefing Faculty of Arts & Sciences 2007

Reasons for this Briefing: 

Reasons for this Briefing To clarify travel and reimbursement policies in accordance with: IRS and other Federal regulations University policies Office of Sponsored Programs policies FAS spending guidelines To improve reimbursement processing Provide a practical, yet compliant, approach to policies Pinpoint problem areas Create better overall efficiency

Sound Practices in Light of Current Federal & Non-Federal Audit Trends: 

Sound Practices in Light of Current Federal & Non-Federal Audit Trends Know the rules and adhere to them Follow University Policy Do not submit or sign off on transactions if you feel uncomfortable about information provided Ask Questions and Raise Concerns Participate in Training Know resources available to you



Air Travel – Domestic & International: 

Air Travel – Domestic & International Domestic travel is defined as “within and between any of the continental United States and its territories and possessions (Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa), with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. Also includes flights to Canada and Mexico under six (6) hours.” International travel is defined as “to Alaska, Hawaii and destinations outside North America as well as flights to Canada and Mexico that exceed six (6) hours (use non-stop flights as benchmark).”

Air Travel – Class of Service: 

Air Travel – Class of Service Book lowest available economy airfare using: Desired travel time (morning/afternoon/evening) Airport of choice Non-stop flight if desired by traveler Additional criteria for air travel on federal funds: Required use of Preferred Travel Agencies May use other agents or websites when departure & arrival points are completely outside US Domestic flights – must use US-flag carriers only International flights – Fly on US-flag carriers when departing US & where available abroad, even if more costly Use foreign-flag carriers when no US carriers provide service in area or when use of foreign carriers is a necessity

Air Travel – Other Classes of Service: 

Air Travel – Other Classes of Service Business Class is allowed when traveling to Alaska, Hawaii and destinations outside North America as well as travel to Canada or Mexico that exceeds six (6) hours (including travel on federal funds). First Class is not allowed unless exception is granted by the FAS Financial Office based on documented medical or other extenuating circumstances. Note: Excess airfare may not be charged to federal funds. If more costly fare is authorized (1st Class for International travel or 1st Class & Business Class for Domestic travel), must split code fare using 8450 with excess to a non-sponsored funding source.

Air Travel – Preferred Travel Agency: 

Air Travel – Preferred Travel Agency Acceptable reasons for not using preferred agency when traveling on federal funding: Needing to make last minute arrangements that preclude ability to access PTA’s Non-Harvard visitors booking their own flights Foreign travel to and from destinations not supported by PTA’s Group excursions (same individuals to same location for same purpose) Government airfare rates International only, if traveler is able to demonstrate savings of 25% or more using non-preferred vendor as compared to a PTA (for the same itinerary) AND obtains prior approval to book the trip from the Travel Office. [Traveler must obtain supporting documentation to get approval – copies of airfare itineraries from both the non-preferred vendor and PTA for same itinerary & class of service is required.] Note: Harvard students and post-docs traveling on federal grants are subject to the same air travel rules/regulations as faculty & must use a PTA

Air Travel – Preferred Travel Agency: 

Air Travel – Preferred Travel Agency When processing travel booked through a non-preferred vendor, write an explanation of the exception in the “Note to Approver” field on the Travel Expense Report/Web Voucher form. If 25% savings exception applies, also include copies of the two itineraries and the prior approval from the Travel Office with the Travel Expense Report. If an acceptable rationale is not provided or prior approval is not obtained (25% savings), the expense report will be returned and the entire amount must be charged to a non-sponsored account. For more information concerning air travel on federal funds, refer to the Sponsored Travel Cost Guidelines on the OSP website.

Car Rental: 

Car Rental May rent up to and including a full-size vehicle. TO a destination when: Driving is demonstrated to be more convenient than air/rail travel Driving is necessary to transport bulky material required for business AT a destination when: Renting is less expensive than other modes of transportation such as taxis, airport van services and shuttles, and train service. FAS Travelers should: Use Preferred Car Rental Agencies with negotiated rates Refer to Car Rental Insurance Guidelines located in Travel Policy Manual on Travel Office website – most insurance should be declined for Domestic travel. Travel Office will not reimburse for this expense if insurance is purchased. NOTE: Student drivers of rental cars have special restrictions. Refer to Travel Policy Manual for details.

Use of Personal Car: 

Use of Personal Car Employees and visitors may use personal car if: It is less expensive than renting a car, taking a taxi, or using alternate transportation such as train and plane. It saves time. For long distance travel, Travel Office requires documentation comparing mileage to flight costs. If mileage is higher, an approved Exception Request is required. Mileage calculations: From home or office, whichever is less, to the business destination. Normal commuting miles cannot be included. From home to airport is allowed if traveler works from home for all or part of a work week or cost of other means of transportation greatly exceeds mileage, tolls and parking combined. Must provide to and from locations on Expense Report (MapQuest is great!)

Other Ground Transportation: 

Other Ground Transportation Train Travel – Domestic and International Standard or economy class travel is allowed for travel less than six hours Business class travel is allowed for: Trips between Boston – New York (or return) Trips between Boston – Washington, DC (or return) Travel over six hours First class travel is allowed only outside of the U.S. where a reserved seat is required and cannot be guaranteed by booking in another class of travel Sedan Service Should be used only when valid business reasons preclude use of taxi service or airport van/shuttle service. Acceptable reasons are: Travel with the President, Provost or Deans of FAS Travel with major donors or publicly-recognized celebrities. Should use Harvard’s Preferred Vendors with negotiated rates Use of limousines is strictly prohibited by the University!

Lodging : 

Lodging FAS Travelers should purchase a standard room using the following guidelines: Harvard’s Negotiates Rates at Partner Hotels (primarily Cambridge) Average Corporate Rate (Select Cities) Federal Per Diem Rate (All Other Cities) (Found on Travel Office Website – the first two categories are found under “Exclusive Travel Discounts”. Average Corporate Rates are also available on the FAS Financial Office website – Travelers must obtain an exception approval if rates exceed guidelines by more than 40%. Hotel rates above the guidelines are allowed when part of a conference package (must provide proof to Travel Office if 5-Star) Travelers may claim actual hotel expenses or lodging per diem but may not mix claim types on same trip.

Use of Private Residence: 

Use of Private Residence Travelers who stay in a private residence may not claim lodging per diem for their stay. Travelers will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred to extend appreciation to host. Per stay, such expenses are limited to: One gift under $75 or One meal of appreciation (subject to FAS meal guidelines) Note: All gifts and meals of appreciation should be coded to 8450 and may never be charged to Federal funds.

Travel & Business Meals: 

Travel & Business Meals FAS Meal Guidelines Dinner - $75 per person Lunch - $35 per person Breakfast - $25 per person Receptions - $35 per person for food and drink Guidelines do not include taxes and tips (up to 20%) Travelers on business trips may claim either actual meal expenses or meal per diems for same trip up to the guideline maximums. They may not mix claim types on same trip.

Travel & Business Meals: 

Travel & Business Meals Business meals are defined as “with business acquaintances, students, colleagues and donors during which specific documented business discussions take place.” Business meals with other employees are defined as “meals between staff conducted off campus for confidentiality reasons or for reward or other appropriate business purpose.” Note: Meals and receptions which are social in nature (reward, recognition, holiday celebration, etc.) should be coded to 8450 and may not be charged to federal funds. Any costs associated with alcohol must be charged to object code 8450 and may never be charged to federal funds.

Telephone Usage while Traveling: 

Telephone Usage while Traveling FAS Travelers can be reimbursed for business telephone calls that are reasonable and necessary for conducting business Itemized hotel folio or an original telephone bill showing the calls must be included on Travel Expense Report. FAS Departments can choose to reimburse travelers for personal telephone calls while traveling Calls should be reasonable in cost and number (1-2 per day) in order to stay in touch with family Use of AirPhones is not allowed except in emergencies or in cases of extenuating circumstances Emergency or extenuating circumstances must be noted on the reimbursement request

Federal Unallowable Expenses: 

Federal Unallowable Expenses Certain types of items within the general board direct-cost categories must not be charged to federal awards: Basic Administrative and Operational Costs Office supplies, pens, paper, basic software, etc. Local telephone and fax; telephone line and equipment charges General clerical and secretarial assistance (some exceptions) Laptops and desktop personal computers (considered multi-use) Postage, express mail (except freight to ship component parts) Hazardous waste disposal Proposal preparation costs Research-related Expenses Personal Use Goods/Services Books and periodicals Sales Tax Dues and memberships Alcohol Photocopying Flowers Conference fees (except project paper) Catering Miscellaneous Unallowable Expenses Gifts Student Activities Space Rental/Furniture Fines and penalties Construction/Housing/Living Expense



Who Does Policy Cover?: 

Who Does Policy Cover? ONLY EMPLOYEES – Faculty and Staff; Full or Part Time NOTES: Students and non-employees are encouraged to submit reimbursement requests in accordance with the policy time frame. Students – both undergraduate and graduate – are always considered students for this reimbursement policy only. No exception approval is required to reimburse students and non-employees not in compliance with the policy time frame. The requirement that reimbursements be documented and substantiated business expenses holds for anyone seeking reimbursement from University or sponsored funds.

Time Frame for Submission: 

Time Frame for Submission To satisfy the IRS accountable plan rules governing non-taxable reimbursements, travel expense reports must be submitted to the Travel and Reimbursement Office within the following: 60 Days from the end date of trip or date expense was incurred for non-travel related expenses; 61 to 90 Days from end date of trip or date expense was incurred for non-travel related expenses WITH approved Exception Request from FAS Financial Office. (FAS Financial Office has no discretionary power after 90 days) Taxable Reimbursements 61 Days after end date of trip or date expense was incurred for non-travel related expenses, where no exception exists or Exception Request is denied process through ASPerIN as Late Reimbursement (code = LRB) 183 Days after end date of trip or date expense was incurred, no payment of any kind will be allowed.

Requesting Exceptions: 

Requesting Exceptions Exception Approval allows for processing of expenses as non-taxable reimbursement through Travel Office. To initiate request for University or FAS policy exception: Fill out Exception Request Form found on FAS Financial Office website under “Recent Policies and Forms” Department Administrator or Financial Officer submits via e-mail to Requests must fully document extenuating circumstances. Lost or misplaced receipts are not considered extenuating circumstances - no exception approval will be granted.

Processing Late Reimbursements: 

Processing Late Reimbursements Any reimbursement request that falls into the Taxable Reimbursement category must be processed through the ASPerIN payroll system: Use Gift/3rd Party option and earnings code LRB Must be approved locally by Department Administrator or Financial Officer Print out the PS Form and attach copies of all receipts and supporting/back-up documentation Sign and forward form and copies of receipts and back-up documentation to your Payroll Service Coordinator Return original receipts to employee for inclusion with personal income tax return Payment will be made on next available regular paycheck Absolutely No Grossing Up for tax withholding Allowed!

Extended Business Trip Exemption: 

Extended Business Trip Exemption University policy allows automatic exemption from 60-day rule for extended business trips: Trip must be 30 consecutive days or longer Traveler has 120 days from BEGINNING date of trip to submit an initial reimbursement request Traveler may include initial expenses, such as airfare, but 120-day clock starts ticking from date of airfare purchase Reimbursement requests must be submitted every 120 days while traveling or “settled” within 60 days from end date of trip Any expenses older than 183 days will not be paid Leaves do not qualify for this exemption

Non-Travel Allowance Exemption: 

Non-Travel Allowance Exemption University allows automatic exemption from 60-day rule for expenses paid from an annual research allowance or professional expense allocation. Every effort should be made to submit reimbursements in same fiscal year in which expenses were incurred and in which allocation was made. Allowance reimbursements, however, must be submitted no later than 12 months from date expenses were incurred. Sponsored grants do not qualify for this exemption Travel Expense Report or UEF must include the terminology Allowance Reimbursement at the beginning of the Business Purpose section.


Prepayments Reimbursement or Payment of Pre-travel expenses: Allowed for GE Corporate Card payments of travel expenses such as airfare, hotel deposits & conference fees Allowed for direct payment by Harvard to Preferred Travel Agencies (through invoice or BCD’s direct billing) NOT allowed for personal credit cards or out-of-pocket expenses WHY? University cannot track cancellations or refunds if credits go to personal cards or checks go to individuals.




Requirements All travel and purchases must be Business expenses Necessary and appropriate for the conduct of University business Primarily benefit the University - not the traveler Documented Thorough business purpose is required on either the Travel Expense Report (WV) or the UEF Proper substantiation of the amount by providing receipts or a Missing Receipt Affidavit Signed by the reimbursee – not optional

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s: 

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s Detailed Business purpose is required by the IRS. The UEF should include all 5 components below: WHO incurred expense (and/or who visited) WHAT type of event, activity or purchase WHEN event/activity/purchase took place WHERE location of event or activity (travel only) WHY the expense was incurred The details should be sufficiently adequate for an auditor to clearly understand what the expenses were about and why they were charged to a specific fund.

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s: 

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s The Who Name of individual who incurred the expense Names of others if more than one individual involved 2-5 People, List full names of each 5+ People, List readily identifiable Groups (e.g. Prof. X’s 10 graduate students) For Non-Harvard, title and affiliation are also required Auditor should be able to readily determine expense is business related and not personal (lunch with Uncle Sam).

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s: 

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s The What Clear description of event, activity or purchase: “chemical supplies for Barter Lab” vs. “supplies” “trip to Purple Haze Conference” vs. “trip to Conference” Absolutely No Acronyms! Similar expense types can be grouped on the UEF Ground transportation (tolls, parking, taxis) Multiple meals For trips with multiple under-$75 meal expenses with and without receipts (trips over 5 days), list “meals – see attached” on UEF and attach log with details - $$ amount/dates of daily breakfast, lunch and dinner expenses (broken down by B/L/D).

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s: 

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s The When Beginning and ending dates of a trip Date(s) item(s) were purchased The Where (for travel only) Exact location of trip – if city is not easily recognizable, must include state and/or country For trips with multiple locations – must list them all

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s: 

Business Purpose – The 5 W’s The Why Why the expense was incurred and how it relates to the fund being charged. This is the most difficult of the 5 W’s and particularly important when charging to sponsored funds. Using the Purple Haze Conference example, an acceptable why would be “to present a paper on blue/red combinations related to NSF project on color hues.” An unacceptable why would be “to present a paper” or “to present a paper on chocolate chip cookie mix” – cookie mix has nothing to do with color hues! If you have a conference brochure that gives the subject matter of the paper, you can write “to present paper - see attached” rather than fill in this information on a UEF. Only the PI will be able to give you the information needed in terms of how the expense or trip related to his/her grant unless it’s blatantly obvious.

Receipt Requirements: 

Receipt Requirements Reimbursement requests must be accompanied by receipts which substantiate the expense per IRS Regulations: Original receipts for all expenses $75 or more Some departments require receipts for all $ amounts (or a MRA); check with local business or finance office Any receipts not required by the Travel Office (under $75) should be filed locally All hotel receipts – a.k.a. hotel folios Regardless of amount Any personal charges must be: Crossed out on the folio - No movies! No mini-bars! Subtracted from the total reimbursement request Paid directly by the traveler

Missing Receipt Affidavit: 

Missing Receipt Affidavit If an original receipt is lost or misplaced, use a MRA For air travel, hotel stays or car rentals additional documentation is required (see MRA form for details) One MRA can support multiple expenses Both the reimbursee and the approver must sign the MRA In a pinch, Travel Office will accept a faxed MRA

Per diem Reimbursements: 

Per diem Reimbursements Per diem is a daily rate assigned by the federal government to a location for reimbursement of lodging and meal & incidental expenses (M&IE). Reimbursement for travel may be based on per diems Paid in lieu of actual expenses Receipts not required – but proof of travel is required Per diems provided in advance are not allowed Rates are located on Travel Office website Be sure effective date for per diem agrees with dates of travel

Per diem Reimbursements: 

Per diem Reimbursements Remember to be consistent in reimbursement method for the two claim types - lodging and meals. Travelers must choose to file either actual meal receipts or claim a meal per diem for entire trip – cannot mix. Travelers must choose to file either actual hotel receipts or claim a lodging per diem for entire trip – cannot mix. [However, travelers may claim actual meals and per diems for lodging or actual lodging and per diems for meals.] Note: Both actual and meal per diem amounts are subject to the maximums set in the FAS meal guidelines

Per diem Reimbursements: 

Per diem Reimbursements IRS regulations require prorating of meal per diems under certain circumstances: For trips more than 12 hours but less than 24 hours, use 75% of M&IE per diem rate For trips over 24 hours, use 75% of M&IE rate for the first day and last day of the trip When conference fees include meals* *Consult US General Service Administration website for $ amount to reduce per diem based on M&IE rate for conference city. For multiple city trip, base meal per diems on flight times & lodging where traveler slept. Use best judgment!

GE Corporate Cards: 

GE Corporate Cards Use ONLY for business-related purchases Do not share your card with anyone Why? Cardholders personal credit history is at risk If personal charges do occur, cardholder must pay GE directly & cross charges off statement Credits for business-related purchases Use GE Credit in Web Voucher Use the same account coding as the original charge Credit Memo will be submitted directly to GE via Travel Office & proper account will be credited through G/L – extremely important if credits relate to charges on grants.

Time Needed to Process GE Card: 

Time Needed to Process GE Card Purchase date of item – January 15th Charge appears on GE statement – February 15th Cardholder receives statement – February 20th Statement reviewed by cardholder – February 25th Administrator or assistant receives statement from cardholder – March 1st UEF & statement received by local financial office – March 8th Average # of days to process or resolve issues – 8 Days GE reimbursement request submitted to Central – March 16th One Day beyond University’s 60-Day Policy! Highly recommend that cardholders give assistants online access to their GE statements – process is more streamlined compared to paper statements due to snail mail.

Why are reimbursement requests returned?: 

Why are reimbursement requests returned? Most reimbursement requests are returned by the Travel Office due to basic policy violations: Lack of proper documentation Business purpose was missing or incomplete Receipts were missing and no MRA was included Required FAS or Travel Office approval was missing Signature of the reimbursee or approver was missing Expenses were unallowable under University policy Use of non-preferred Agency for federal airfare Use of wrong class of service Expenses exceeded the time to be submitted (60 Days) and did not have approval from the FAS Financial Office (60 to 90 Days)

Would you be Prepared if Auditors Come Knocking?: 

Would you be Prepared if Auditors Come Knocking? Guiding principal is that the University wants to provide auditors/inspectors with the information they need External agents may show up unannounced Ask for identification Request documentation which allows them access to facilities – Warrant??? Contact FAS SPA, RMAS and OSP immediately Understand Scope and Timing of Work



Preferred Travel Providers: 

Preferred Travel Providers Domestic Air Travel USAirways – Boston/New York/Washington DC shuttles Travel Agencies Expedia Corporate Travel BCD/Harvard Travel The Travel Collaborative Oriental Tours and Travel HT&T Travel Great International Travel Domestic Train Travel Amtrak – Boston/New York/Washington DC shuttles Car Rental Agencies Hertz Avis Enterprise Car/Sedan Services PlanetTran Boston Coach Custom Transportation Preferred Hotels See

FAS Resources: 

FAS Resources The FAS Financial Office website has many resources – FAS Spending Guidelines University’s Partner Hotels Average Corporate Lodging Rates for top 100 domestic and international cities FAS Exception Request Form & Procedures Exception approval guidelines FAQ’s on spending guidelines and exception approvals

Travel & Reimbursement Office Resources: 

Travel & Reimbursement Office Resources The Travel and Reimbursement Office website has many resources – Exclusive Harvard negotiated rates Airlines Hotels Car Rentals Travel Policy Manual (be careful: still being updated) GE Corporate Card Application Per diem, mileage reimbursement and exchange rates Information on Harvard’s travel agencies, including the Harvard-Expedia corporate travel website Reimbursement policy information

Government Resources: 

Government Resources US General Service Administration Website shows $$ amount to reduce per diem based on M&IE rate for conference city. Go to: Travel>Resources>Per Diem Rates>M&IE Breakdown Rule of thumb: Breakfast – 18% Lunch – 28% Dinner – 48% Incidentals – 6%

More Resources: 

More Resources The FAS Administrative Systems Assistance Program (ASAP) can provide training, staff refreshers, and backup transaction processing E-mail: Phone: 6-7136 University policy documents can be found at Check the Office of Sponsored Programs for the OSP Travel Guidelines Feel free to contact Michael Jackson: 5-1526 or & Carolyn MacLeod: 6-3053 or with questions/concerns Feel free to contact the Travel and Reimbursement Office – 5-7760 – with questions or concerns

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