The College will pay for reasonable, appropriately documented and properly authorized travel expenses that are necessary to achieve a legitimate business purpose provided those expenses adhere to the guidelines outlined in this policy. It is the expectation of the College that employees and students should neither lose nor gain financially when traveling on official business. The College is not obligated to reimburse employees or students for expenses not in compliance with Rhodes’s policies.
The IRS states that ordinary and necessary business-related expenses are deductible and reimbursable. The IRS defines ordinary as “common in your field of trade, business or profession”; and necessary as “helpful and appropriate for your business.” The IRS states that meals, transportation, hotels and entertainment expenses cannot be “lavish or extravagant.” The IRS requires all businesses (profit and non-profit) to adhere to “an accountable plan” when reimbursing employees for travel and entertainment expenses. For a plan to be deemed “accountable”:
- There must be a business reason for the expense.
- The employee must substantiate the expenses within a reasonable time period.
- The employee must return to the employer any amount advanced in excess of the substantiated expenses on a timely basis.
To ensure compliance with the IRS, the College has prepared the following accountable travel and entertainment plan. Rhodes has defined a reasonable time period to report Accountable Plan expenditures as within 60 days from the date of the transaction. The trip or entertainment expense must have a valid purpose to benefit the employee’s job or College business and not be given as a bonus or for the morale of the employee. These guidelines apply to all College employees and students traveling on College business.
These guidelines are not meant to be an exhaustive statement of College policies, but rather to provide sufficient guidance to conduct business and seek reimbursement. These general policies apply to most College travel. These may be adapted to be more restrictive by programs or other offices or for specific events. Employee’s whose expenses are funded by a grant or contract should refer to the terms of that grant or contract for guidance on what expenditures are allowable.
Travel Costs. Travel costs are the expenses for transportation, lodging, meals, and related items incurred by employees who travel on official business for the College.
All business travel should be pre-approved by the traveler’s Department Chairperson or Supervisor. Expenditures to be paid by departmental funding must be pre-approved by the appropriate Department Chairperson or funding Budget Manager. Expenditures submitted for grant or other restricted funding should be approved by the Grant Principal Investigator or the appropriate Gift Manager.
Travel planning should be completed as far in advance as practicable. Advance travel planning is key to obtaining the lowest airfares and securing first choice flight times and room accommodations.
Employees are required to use their College credit card for all travel related expenses. If an employee does not have a College credit card, a personal credit card may be used. For business expenses not paid with a College credit card, employees should use personal funds or other means and request reimbursement immediately following the incurrence of the expense by submitting an expense report in Workday for such expenses.
Combining Business and Personal Travel. When business travel is extended for personal reasons, or coincides with personal travel, the employee is responsible for any expenses incurred as part of their personal travel. This includes but is not limited to rental cars, lodging, meals, tips, entertainment, etc., and any increase in the standard cost of business expenses to accommodate travel companions. As long as the main purpose for the trip is business the College will pay or reimburse necessary and reasonable travel expenses directly related to the business purpose of the trip. When an employee’s travel includes transportation to or from a non-business travel location the College will pay only that portion that is business related. The employee must provide documentation to detail the business purpose and to support the cost of the College’s portion of the trip.
Travel Companions. The College will not pay expenses attributable to an employee’s family member(s) or personal guests.
Mode of Travel. Transportation should be chosen based on the most economical mode of transportation that reasonably meets the business travel needs. Travelers should choose carriers (air, rail, rentals) based on cost and most reasonable mode rather than giving preference to companies based on personal rewards from memberships.
Airline Reservation Procedures. Rhodes has a designated travel agency which can be helpful in securing airline reservations and can assist with international travel requirements and documents. Travelers may make their own arrangements but are welcome and encouraged to contact the Finance Office for guidance and travel agency information. Call or email the Finance Office at (901) 843-3760 or FinanceOffice@Rhodes.edu.
Air Travel. Travelers are expected to book the lowest priced coach airfare. Airfare costs in excess of the customary standard commercial airfare (coach or equivalent) are not allowed except when such accommodations would excessively prolong travel, require travel during unreasonable hours, result in additional costs that would offset the transportation savings, or offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the employee’s medical needs. Exceptions should be explained and documented to provide justification for higher costs. First class travel is not reimbursable.
Vehicle Rental. When renting a vehicle, travelers are expected to rent the safest and most economically available car for the business purpose. Rentals of 15-passenger vans is not permitted and is not covered by the College insurance. When traveling in groups, sharing of vehicles is encouraged to reduce costs. Travelers must refuel the vehicle prior to returning it to the rental company. Do not purchase the pre-paid fuel options and luxury add-ons are not reimbursable. The College carries auto rental insurance in its comprehensive insurance policy. No additional coverage should be purchased when renting vehicles for domestic business travel. Additional insurance coverage should be purchased for international rentals. All persons expected to drive the rental vehicle should be registered with the rental agency to ensure age and legal requirements of the contract are met.
The College has a Preferred Business Contract with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental companies. The contract covers both agencies. Business travelers should use this contract number on business rentals to ensure discounted pricing and sales tax exemptions in the states where we have exemptions. Enterprise and National should be priced before choosing other car companies based on the traveler’s memberships. Contact the Finance Office for further information on the Business Contract.
Approved Drivers. Anyone who regularly rents or drives a vehicle for College business or drives a College-owned vehicle must be an approved driver. Students may be approved drivers but cannot rent vehicles on behalf of the College. Contact the Finance Office to provide the information necessary for driver qualification review.
Personal Vehicles. Travelers may request expense reimbursement for the use of personal vehicles for business-related travel. Either a mileage or a fuel reimbursement may be requested but not both for the same trip. Both reimbursements have limitations. For trips greater than 250 miles (500 round trip) other travel options may be more economical. Contact the Finance Office for details and further options.
- The insurance of the vehicle owner, rather than the College’s insurance, applies when employees use their personal vehicle for business travel; The College’s insurance does not cover business travel in personal vehicles.
Lodging. The College will pay actual and reasonable costs of lodging as supported by the detailed bill, for each day that lodging away from home is required for business purposes. Travelers should choose good quality, non-luxury hotels for business travel. However, when attending a conference, travelers may stay in the conference hotel even if it is not the most economical option available, provided the conference hotel is not exorbitant. Charges for personal services and items such as movies, in-room mini-bar, laundry, alcohol, etc. are not permissible business expenses and should not be added to the hotel bill. These items must be paid with personal funds. Qualified expenses charged to the room must be substantiated with detailed receipts showing all the services or products received; otherwise the charge will be considered personal and not covered by the College.
Lodging with Friends or Family. While traveling, an employee may elect to stay with family or friends in lieu of staying in a hotel. A reasonably priced meal or non-cash gift given to the host in lieu of hotel costs is permissible. Detailed receipts must be provided for the expense. Cash payments, gift cards, and certificates for products, services and entertainment given to the host are not allowed.
Meals. The College will reimburse or pay for reasonable meal expenses incurred while traveling away from home or entertaining while on College business. Travelers should use good judgement when spending College funds for meals during travel. Alcohol is not reimbursable unless the meal is for the purpose of business-development entertainment with non-Rhodes attendees. Buying alcohol for students is not permissible regardless of their age. If the event will be paid for by a grant or College restricted program, ensure that the grant or program will allow alcohol during entertainment meals. A traveler may choose to be reimbursed for meals by the Actual Cost of Meals with detailed receipts or Per Diem. Contact the Finance Office for details and submission requirements for each method. Limits do apply.
Group Travel. Contact the appropriate Dean or Vice President for approval of any Rhodes related group travel program or excursion.
International Travel. If traveling out of the country, all student-related programs must be registered and cleared through the Buckman Center for International Education. Additionally, all international travel by faculty and staff must be registered with the Buckman Center. For more information regarding international travel involving students and non-students, please contact the Buckman Center for International Education.
Travel Expenses Reimbursements and Reconciliations. The College will reimburse reasonable and necessary expenses of travel for College-related business within the policies prescribed by the Finance Office or the appropriate Vice President or Dean if those policies are more restrictive. Requests for travel reimbursements or a reconciliation of travel expenses on College credit cards must be made by submitting an expense report in Workday.
Expense Report. Expense reports must be submitted through Workday with a clear business purpose and substantiating documentation. Receipts and supporting documentation must show the vendor name and location, transaction date, detailed description of all goods and services purchased and their costs, amount paid, and the form of payment. A description of each transaction should be detailed enough for all approvers to clearly understand the nature and business purpose of the expense. All expenditures may be subject to review for up to three years or longer as determined by the IRS. Insufficient documentation could result in retroactive tax consequences to the employee.