Frequently Asked Questions
Office of Controller - Travel Accounting
Meal costs may be reimbursed if the traveler is in travel status for three hours beyond the normal workday. The three hours may consist of hours occurring before, after, or a combination of both before and after the traveler's regular workday. IRS may consider meal reimbursement without an overnight stay a taxable fringe benefit.
No. If you're planning a trip using a motor pool or rental vehicle paid for by the university, do not include your family or any other unauthorized passenger. Use of state vehicles is reserved for official business for authorized drivers and authorized passengers. The university will not provide excess liability protection to any unauthorized passengers in the event of an accident.
If you plan include your family, plan to pay for the rental. The expense for the rental where unauthorized passengers are attending will be treated as a personal side trip expense. The university will not reimburse personal side trip expenses.
Lodging costs incurred within 50 miles from a traveler's official residence or official station will not be reimbursed except under the following conditions:
a) An overnight stay in a commercial lodging facility to avoid having a traveler drive back and forth for back-to-back late night/early morning meetings.
b) When the health and safety of travelers is of concern as provided for in section 10.10.35.
c) When a agency can demonstrate that staying overnight is more economical to the state.
To pay registration fees in foreign currency, you must come to the Travel Accounting Office (after the travel authorization has been completed and approved) to request a signed authorization to the Bank of America to charge the university bank account for the draft in foreign currency. You must then take the memo to the bank to get the check.
The mileage rate for privately-owned vehicles (POV) used for official state business is set by the Office of Financial Management (OFM).
For current per diem (meals and lodging) and POV rates, visit the Travel Accounting web site.
When it becomes necessary to determine the amount to reimburse for individual meals (from the daily meals rate), use the following calculations rounded to the nearest dollar:
- The breakfast portion is 25% of the set daily meals entitlement.
- The lunch portion is 30% of the set daily meals entitlement.
- The dinner portion is 45% of the set daily meals entitlement. SAAM 10.40.10.c
See "Make Your Reservations" in the Employee Travel Guide
The process outlined in the Employee Travel Guide is the normal means for procuring airline tickets (see "Make Your Reservations"). If travelers procure airline tickets from other vendors (including internet providers and other non-contracted agencies), this would be considered an exception and certain information must be provided as described in the Employee Travel Guide.
State contracts are available at the following sites:
Travel, Discount Airfares, State Agencies & Higher Education (this is the contract where city pair rates can be found)
Except as provided in SAAM 10.50.70, a traveler may only use their personal financial resources to purchase common carrier transportation in an emergency situation.
Per (SAAM) 10.50.70, if there is an authorized change in a traveler's itinerary while on travel status to conduct official state business, the traveler, whenever possible, is to pay the added cost through a state charge card system. If the traveler does not have access to a state charge card system, the traveler may pay for the added cost from personal financial resources provided receipts are submitted with the completed TA form.
No, the travel office handles travel only for employees and others on group travel with an employee.
When asking for reimbursement, receipts will be required for registration, airfare, hotel, car rental, laundry and other items over $50.00.
When lodging costs are higher than the per diem rate allowed you could use the 150% rule if certain conditions are met (see section 10.30.20a). To determine the 150% threshold, use the total per diem rate (lodging and meals) for the specific location and then multiply by 150% to equal the maximum allowable lodging amount. A justification form must accompany the travel authorization signed by the dean, director, or supervisor.
Cash advances can be provided to travelers for estimated travel expenses except for: (a) mileage reimbursement when using a personal vehicle for business travel, and (b) airfare. Travelers that hold the EWU corporate card (available through EWU Travel Accounting) should use their card for travel expenses rather than obtaining a cash advance. The traveler must account for a cash advance by completing an expense voucher and attaching receipts where required (e.g., lodging).
Under IRS regulations, travel expenses not meeting requirements under PUB 15, 463, and 535 are taxable to the traveling employee. Some travel expense reimbursements to Eastern Washington University employees qualify as taxable, and must be reported as wages. These typically are same day meal per diem expenses.
Same-day Per Diem - Travel that occurs and is completed in the same day does not meet the "traveling away from home" requirement of the IRS to be designated tax deductible. Therefore, per diem allowances for same-day travel are considered wages. Traveling away from home requires the employee to be away from the general area of their tax home substantially longer than an ordinary day's work, and requires sleep or rest to meet the demands of work while away from home. Generally, the employee's tax home is their regular place of business or post of duty, regardless of where they maintain their family home. It includes the entire city or general area in which their business or work is located.
Eastern has a federal obligation to report same day per diem reimbursements as taxable wages. Reimbursements and tax deductions will be included on W-2 forms. These payments are taxed at the time of travel. The taxable meal reimbursement allows for an exemption when university business is conducted during the meal period, and employees will be provided an opportunity to claim that exemption.