Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Travel Reimbursement Request forms will be used for the reimbursement of travel expenses of employees, students, and non-employees on official University business, regardless of the funding sources. Requests for reimbursement are to be submitted within 60 days after the trip has been completed. If the trip is exceptionally lengthy, interim filings may be permitted with prior approval. If a reimbursement request cannot be completed by the close of the fiscal year in which the cost was incurred, a year-end accrual should be done.
A travel reimbursement request form cannot be filed before the trip is completed. Filing Reimbursement Requests beyond the 60 day time limit may result in the reimbursement payment being taxable as wages to the employee and/or being denied. For the purposes of this policy, the IRS definition of 60 days [IRS Reg 1.62-2(g)(2)(i)] will be used to define “reasonable period”. Accordingly if an employee does not submit a reimbursement request within 60 days of the purchase date (or from the date of return from travel if the purchase is made while in the field), the business center may offer a one-time educational session, depending upon the circumstances, before they issue a Memorandum of Understanding (memo or MOU) that is signed by the employee to document their awareness and understanding of the policy and inform them that the University will not reimburse their late reimbursements in the upcoming two year period. The option to offer an educational interaction instead of immediately issuing a MOU for an infraction of this policy should only be for those rare cases where it is very clear that the employee would reasonably not have known about this policy (i.e. new employee). A second violation for this same individual would result in issuance of the memo.
When two or more employees travel together, it may be expedient for one employee to pay and claim reimbursement for certain expenses of other employees. Examples are:
- There is a single charge for a group (e.g. road or bridge toll, parking fee taxi fee)
- Two employees share a room. One may pay the bill and claim the actual amount, (with an original, itemized receipt) up to the combined lodging allowance.
Claims for reimbursement or payment of travel expenses must include a business purpose. The business purpose should be descriptive enough to clearly answer any questions regarding who traveled, the business necessity of their travel, proof of travel, and the benefit to OSU.
For all claims, submit a Travel Reimbursement Request. When an original signature is unattainable, a faxed signature or email authorization is acceptable for payment processing. For an email authorization to be accepted, the email must state what specifically is being authorized (i.e. dollar amount, who the travel reimbursement is for, what was the business purpose of the trip, dates of the trip, etc.) and must state that the "traveler" incurred the expenses while on official duty, the expenses are just and have not been previously reimbursed so the email can be matched to the reimbursement request. See FIS 511 e-Signature. A person other than the traveler may not sign the Reimbursement Request as the claimant.
Miscellaneous Expenses - must be itemized on the Travel Reimbursement Request form.
Miscellaneous expenses may include:
- Telephone - business calls must include purpose of call
- Postage - indicate what was mailed and business purpose
- ATM Cash Advance fees
- Materials and supplies purchased to meet an immediate business need
- Reference materials
- Lodging taxes (domestic)
- Energy surcharge
- Gas for car rental
- Charges for airline baggage fees in excess of two checked bags. Should include an explanation of the necessity for the excess baggage.
The M&IE per diem includes costs which are incidental to travel - laundry, cleaning/pressing of clothing, and fees or gratuities for services such as waiters, bell hops, and baggage handlers. These types of expenses cannot be listed or reimbursed separately.
Employees - Expenses are reimbursed with appropriate documentation which must include an agenda when applicable (meetings, conferences, seminars, etc.) to reflect the business purpose of the travel. Passports, visas, immunization shots and other miscellaneous expenses with receipts may be reimbursed when required for an international trip. Per Diem is available only while the employee is in “travel status” (official University business requiring an overnight stay away from the employee’s official station or non-overnight travel where the employee leaves/returns home two or more hours before or after their normal start and end times). When employees travel together, it may be expedient for one employee to pay and claim reimbursement for certain expenses of other employees. Reimbursement for multiple employees is only allowed when actual expenses are being reimbursed and are supported by receipts. Employees involved cannot request reimbursement for such expenses paid on their behalf to another claimant.
Employees on Leave - Reimbursement for expenses incurred during sabbatical or other types of leave is warranted only in exceptional circumstances. These costs must be pre-approved by the department head before the leave is taken.
New Employees may be reimbursed for house hunting and moving expenses when costs are necessary to employ qualified personnel and are included in the employee's letter of offer. The maximum total cost being paid must be indicated in the new employee’s letter of offer. New employees teaching summer session only may be reimbursed for travel expenses associated with one round trip only. See FIS 415 Relocation and Moving for additional information.
Students who travel as employees or officially designated representatives of OSU may be reimbursed for travel expenses.
Team/Group - One state employee, such as a coach, athletic director, or group leader, may request reimbursement for expenses paid for team or group members on a single Travel Reimbursement Request form. Other members of the same group may not claim reimbursements.
Non-employee expenses should be kept separate from employee expenses. Detailed itemization of expenses is required and must be supported by receipts. When team/group members are provided cash to buy their own meals, a list of the individuals’ names, their signatures, and the amount disbursed is required. Field trips must be necessary for field instruction, observation of contemporary practices and other areas that are not readily available for classroom or laboratory presentation, but are considered by the instructor to be subject matter essential to the course.
Original, itemized receipts must be submitted by the non-employee traveler as support for expenses. Photocopies of invoices, credit card statements or record of charge slips accompanying the monthly billing statement, receipts or restaurant stubs are not acceptable. Tear tags, credit card slips, and notations on lodging folios are inadequate replacements for itemized receipts.
Unpaid Members of Advisory Committees - May be reimbursed for actual and reasonable meal expenses and mileage. Original itemized receipts are required.
Employees of Other State & Federal Agencies - Employees of other agencies acting in their official capacity are to be reimbursed for travel expenses by their own agency. OSU cannot pay these individuals directly. OSU will reimburse their agency when invoiced for expenses.
Official Guests - Official guests can be, but are not limited to: faculty candidates, research collaborators, visiting scientists or lecturers, seminar or workshop speakers, observers, etc. Pre-approval by appropriate program personnel is required prior to extending an invitation. A clear benefit to OSU must be provided when requesting payment of invited guest expenses.
- Faculty candidate’s family member(s) - payment of expenses require prior approval from the appropriate budget authority and will be taxable to the candidate.
- Guest Speakers not receiving compensation - airfare and lodging can be direct billed to departments.
- Official Guests not receiving compensation - expenses such as airfare, lodging, meals, and vehicle rental can be reimbursed to the guest when supported by original itemized receipts. Meal per diem and mileage can be reimbursed to the guest at current OSU mileage and per diem rates.
- Official Guests receiving compensation - all incurred expenses (including meals, lodging, transportation, etc.) are incorporated in the PSI/PSC payment amount and should be coded as appropriate to the expense; not travel account codes.
- Non-OSU Participant expenses (286xx) should be coded as appropriate to the funding source. Travel expenses reimbursed on account code 28635 require receipts for all expenses, except mileage. Mileage is reimbursed at the OSU rate. Travel expenses not documented with receipts are reimbursed using account code 28636.
- Individuals on a Fellowship and not taking classes toward a degree (i.e.: post-docs) are reimbursed using 28636, because the transactions are 1099 tax reportable.
- Volunteers are eligible to receive per diem only when travel is an assigned duty and indicated as such on their condition of volunteer service. Additional information for volunteers can be found on the website for Risk Management.
Individual units may have travel policies that are more restrictive than the minimal standards expressed in this policy. Departments should coordinate with their Business Center prior to implementation.