Meals & Lodging
Reasonable and customary expenses for meals and tips should be claimed only when there is an out-of pocket expense. Per IRS Regulations, meal expenses are eligible for reimbursement in the following circumstances:
- when they occur during a business meeting and meet the business meeting criteria below,
- when they are connected with travel as defined below, OR
- when they are provided for the convenience and benefit of the College under exceptional circumstances, and approved by the Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer or Controller.
Meals During Business Meetings
IRS regulations allow for the reimbursement of meal charges incurred during business meetings when the following criteria are met:
- the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct College business with guests or other employees of the College, and
- there is a clear and compelling reason to meet outside the office over a meal, and
- the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda.
Requests for meal reimbursements that include students, employees, or College sponsored guests for the purpose of conducting College business must include the purpose of the meeting and the names of all who attended, and must include an itemized receipt showing the detail of all items purchased.
Meals that do not include an overnight stay or other transportation expenses should be reported on the Payment Request Form and must include the above information.
Meals During Travel
Travel is defined by the IRS as being away from an employee’s tax home on business that requires an overnight stay or substantial sleep or rest.
Out-of-pocket meals during travel should normally be limited to $60.00 or less per day, with the exception of meals that include College sponsored guests for the purpose of conducting College business. When total meal expenses do not exceed $35.00 per day, meal receipts are not required.
Long Term Business Travel Considerations
Continuous travel in excess of 4 weeks is considered long term travel and a flat rate meal allowance of $250/week will be paid in lieu of meal receipts; no receipts should be submitted for reimbursement when the long term flat rate meal allowance applies and partial weeks will be prorated. In the rare case when expenses for a companion or family member are approved for long term travel, a meal allowance of $75/week will be paid for the traveling companion and will be taxable to the employee; partial weeks will be prorated.
In the rare case when alcohol is included with a meal, it should not exceed a reasonable level both in terms of volume and expense and should not be purchased with business meals that occur during normal daytime business hours. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on federal grant funds.
The cost of lodging should be kept to a minimum consistent with a reasonable level of comfort, convenience and security for the traveler.
Hotel/motel expenses supported by original receipts during travel are reimbursable. In cases where a traveler stays with colleagues, family or friends in lieu of a hotel, the traveler may request reimbursement for gratuity expenses of a reasonable value (for example, flowers or a meal) offered to the hosts with the approval of the person with budgetary responsibility.
Employee lodging expenses for local accommodations in proximity to the College campus due to adverse weather conditions or to allow an employee to attend early morning or late night College meetings/events are an employee’s personal responsibility and are not eligible for reimbursement unless there is a clear and compelling business need for the employee to provide host services throughout the night at the local accommodation.
As with all reimbursable expenses, original itemized receipts must accompany the Travel Expense Report.