All travel and entertainment expenses must meet the Internal Revenue Service accountable plan rules. Under the accountable plan rules, an employee may be reimbursed for certain travel expenses without incurring any tax liability provided the following three conditions are satisfied:
- advances and reimbursements must be business expenses that are paid or incurred by the employee in connection with his or her services as an employee
- travelers must substantiate the amount, time, use and business purpose of each expense within a reasonable time after incurring the expense; and
- employees must return any advance amounts in excess of substantiated expenses within thirty days after completion of the trip.
The vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, senior vice presidents, vice presidents, cabinet officers, and deans are responsible for ensuring compliance with this travel policy in their divisions, schools, colleges, offices and centers.
Travelers and Travel Authorization
Travel involving University office, departmental, or similar funds requires prior authorization by the traveler’s supervisor. The traveler shall provide information regarding his or her travel itinerary (flights, hotel, etc.) as well as personal emergency contact information to his or her supervisor or designee prior to departure. The traveler shall promptly notify his or her supervisor or designee if and when travel plans change.
Travel in connection with a sponsored research or instructional project must always be authorized by the project director, and may require prior approval by the sponsor. The traveler shall be responsible for investigating and securing all required authorization and approval in connection with a sponsored research or instructional project.
Emergencies and Employee Injury
An employee shall, in any situation deemed by the employee to be an emergency, contact his or her supervisor or designee; if unable to reach the supervisor or designee, the employee shall contact Public Safety. For international travel, the employee can utilize the services of ISOS for emergency situations while on University business (See below).
If an employee is unable to return to campus because of a work-related injury sustained while traveling on University business, the employee must inform his or her supervisor and the supervisor shall contact Risk Management. Risk Management will coordinate medical management for applicable treatment and discharge planning in accordance with the New York State Workers’ Compensation laws.
Reimbursement of Authorized Travel Expenses
Employees will be reimbursed for all reasonable business expenses incurred for authorized travel on University business. All requests for reimbursement of approved business expenses must be signed by the traveler and the traveler’s supervisor. Exceptions from a signature by the traveler’s supervisor are the Chancellor, vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, senior vice presidents, vice presidents, and deans.
In addition to inter-city transportation costs, the following travel expenses are reimbursable if deemed reasonable and necessary business expenses: ground transportation to and from the Syracuse airport, train or bus station, plus parking and tolls; ground transportation at destination by cab, limousine, rental car; fax, internet hookup, and telephone calls; conference registration fee; meals, including tips, not covered by the conference fee; lodging at single occupancy rate; rental of conference or meeting rooms; copying charges; and trip cancellation insurance. When traveling by plane, coach accommodations will be used unless such space is unavailable. The Chancellor, vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, senior vice presidents, vice presidents, cabinet officers and deans may make exceptions in the case of extenuating circumstances (e.g. demanding flight schedule, extended flight times) by giving prior written authorization for first class or business travel. Substantiation of the business purpose and reasonableness of all expenses is required. In addition, a detailed hotel folio (itemized receipt) is required for all lodging expenses. For all other expenses of $75.00 or greater, original receipts are required for substantiation.
Entertainment expenses, including meals and refreshments for guests or business contacts, are non-reimbursable unless deemed necessary for the attainment of the purposes of the trip and reasonable. Most sponsors forbid charging entertainment costs to their projects under any circumstances. Other NON-reimbursable expenses include meals and lodging for family and friends traveling with the employee and cost of personal items.
Syracuse University has an agreement, currently with Bank of America, that provides certain employees with a corporate credit card at University expense for business travel and business entertainment expenditures. A corporate credit card will be issued after a completed Acceptance Statement is countersigned by the dean, director, or department head responsible for the individual’s area requesting the card; the appropriate vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, or senior vice president, and the director of Facilities Support Services. The card may be used for all reasonable business expenses incurred while traveling on University business as described above.
Travel advance privileges are available to University employees who have no overdue or delinquent advances. A travel advance will be issued for the estimated out-of-pocket reimbursable expenses upon receipt of a properly executed travel advance form. The travel advance form must be received at least two weeks prior to the scheduled departure. A travel advance will not be issued more than ten working days before an employee's travel departure date. Within four weeks after the conclusion of a trip, the completed travel voucher portion of the form is required to be submitted to Disbursements Processing at Skytop for settlement of actual travel business expenditures. If actual reimbursable business expenditures exceed the travel advance, the traveler will be issued a check for the difference. If the actual reimbursable business expenses are less than the advance, the traveler will include with the completed travel voucher a check for the difference payable to Syracuse University. Travel vouchers not received in Disbursements Processing within four weeks of the conclusion of the trip will be considered overdue, and the employee's travel advance privileges will be suspended until all travel advance issues are resolved. Overdue travel advances not accounted for by the end of a calendar year may be treated as income to the employee and reported on the employee’s Form W-2. No such treatment or reporting shall relieve the employee from the duty to account for and, as appropriate, return a travel advance not properly used.
Personal and Rental Vehicles
The use of an employee's personal car will be permitted with the following reimbursement provisions. For trips up to 300 miles one way, the traveler will be reimbursed at a rate in accordance with IRS guidelines. For trips over 300 miles one way, for which an automobile is used, the reimbursement will be the cost of a round-trip coach air fare plus local travel, or the personal automobile rate in accordance with IRS guidelines, plus tolls and parking, whichever is less. Where two or more travelers are involved only one reimbursement will be made to the owner or driver. The mileage reimbursement rate may be adjusted from time to time as determined by the University.
When driving a personal auto on University business, the driver must have automobile liability insurance as required by New York State. The University does not cover comprehensive or collision insurance for an employee who drives his/her personal vehicle on University business. The employee is responsible for primary auto liability insurance. The University does carry non-owned auto liability coverage to protect the University and employee(s) (excess basis) in the event of a suit resulting from an accident in which an employee was driving on University business.
When renting a passenger vehicle or van on University business, the University and its employees are covered under the University’s business automobile insurance policy for physical damage to the vehicle or van. There is no cost to the employee’s office or department for insurance under the University’s business automobile policy for rental vehicle or van physical damage except for the applicable policy deductible. The employee may, as an option, purchase the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) from the car rental company. The charge for the CDW is eligible for reimbursement from the employee’s departmental budget. The employee may also use a credit card which provides for CDW through or from the card issuer.
The University prohibits employees and/or offices or departments from renting 15 passenger vans for or on University business.
Although the University maintains a business automobile insurance policy with coverage as set forth above, it is subject to limitations and requirements. The employee, in the event of any accident, must report it promptly and must cooperate with the University’s insurance carrier in the defense and resolution of any claim. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the employee’s protection under the University’s Employee Indemnification Policy and/or loss of the employee’s or University’s coverage under the University’s business automobile insurance policy.
The University’s business automobile policy does not provide coverage for an employee’s personal property should it be damaged in or stolen from a rented vehicle. The employee is responsible for his/her own personal property including any insurance coverage that he/she may want for it. The rental company’s charge for Personal Effects and Personal Accident coverage is not reimbursable.
Insurance for third party bodily injury liability and property damage may be, but usually is not, provided by the rental car company. If provided, it is usually limited by the state’s minimum liability limit. The University’s business automobile insurance policy is excess of the rental car company’s liability coverage.
Employees are not authorized to fly or travel in personally-owned, corporate noncommercial, chartered or leased aircraft on University business without prior written authorization and a certificate of liability insurance of at least $5,000,000, naming Syracuse University as additional insured, is furnished to and approved by the University's Risk Management Department. Other documents (i.e. evidence of air worthiness) may be required by the University.
The travel and travel reimbursement policies described above also apply to International travel. Additionally, reimbursement will be made for the cost of acquiring passports, visas, tourist cards, required photographs and birth certificates; the reasonable cost of required inoculation, immunization and health cards; the reasonable cost of conversion of funds to foreign currencies; and the reasonable cost of hiring guides, interpreters, drivers and similar services performed by Non-US citizens outside the United States when deemed necessary to accomplish the University's business. Unless substantiated by actual currency conversion receipts, foreign funds expended will be reimbursed at the exchange rates published in the Wall Street Journal or available on the Olsen & Associates OANDA website for the applicable dates on which expenditures were incurred. International travel charged to federal grants and contracts requires the use of American flag carriers.
For countries declared by the State Department as not suited for travel, travel on University business to those countries is prohibited unless the employee receives approval from his/her respective vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, senior vice president, dean, or cabinet officer. Employees are urged to consult the State Department website for current information prior to making any travel arrangements.
In addition, travelers on University business have access to the international global assistance services provided by International SOS for pre-trip travel information and if necessary during the trip for emergency medical and security assistance. For online access to services, contact Risk Management for the University’s group membership access code.
Exceptions to this Travel Policy are not desirable or anticipated but may nevertheless be necessary for unanticipated or very unusual circumstances. Any exceptions must be reasonable both as to arrangements and amounts and must be approved by the Chancellor, vice chancellor and provost, executive vice president and chief financial officer, a senior vice president, or a cabinet officer.
Links to Procedures and Related Information
· Travel and Entertainment Card Policy