These guidelines and procedures outline the process for paying vendors and reimbursing employees of the Austin Community College District (“ACC” or “the College”), in accordance with Administrative Rule 4.0505.02, Travel.
The College pays employees’ travel expenses in accordance with IRS rules and regulations. Relevant terms include:
- Traveling Away From Home – Employees are traveling away from home if:
- Their duties require them to be away from the general area of their primary residence substantially longer than an ordinary day’s work, and
- They need to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of their work while away from home.
- Accountable Plans – Accountable plans allow an employee to receive direct payments to vendors and to receive a non-taxable reimbursement for expenses incurred while away from home on College Business. The College provides payments and reimbursements only in accordance with accountable plans. These plans include:
- Payment/reimbursement for actual expenses – Allowable when an employee provides documentary evidence of travel expense, such as receipts, along with an adequate statement of expense.
- Per Diem allowance – A daily amount the College pays when an employee is away from home on business.
- Non-accountable Plans – Any payment plan that does not follow the rules under Accountable Plans, above; such reimbursements are taxable by the IRS. The College does not pay or reimburse expenses under non-accountable plans.
II. Obtaining Authorization to Travel
- Request for Travel – To travel away from home, employees must obtain authorization to travel from their supervisor and budget authority. They may document that authorization by using a Request for Travel/Travel Card form.
- Travel Card – Employees may receive a Travel Card in advance of a trip by obtaining permission from their supervisor and budget authority and completing a Request for Travel/Travel Card form. Itemized receipts are required to document all expenses charged to a Travel Card. Unallowed expenses (see III. B.) should not be charged to a Travel Card.
III. Reimbursement for Travel
- Documentation Requirements – Employees must attach sufficient original documentation to the Travel Expense Report to substantiate travel expenses (Photocopies are not acceptable.)
- Air/Rail – Invoice/itinerary and proof of payment
- Hotel – Hotel folio plus credit card receipt or other register receipt
- Car Rental – Rental car agreement plus credit card receipt or other register receipt
- Meal Expenses –Itemized credit card receipt or detailed register receipt (stubs from restaurant order pads are not acceptable). Receipts are not required for per diem payment unless charged to a travel card.
- Shuttle/Parking Expenses – Detailed register receipt or other detailed proof of payment specifying the number of days and the daily rate
- Other Expenses – Detailed credit card receipt or detailed register receipt
- Expenses Not Allowed – Employees may not claim reimbursement for any expenses that are not allowed and must reimburse the College for any such expenses charged to a travel card. The College will not pay for expenses such as, but not limited to:
- Airline club, rental car club, country club or health club fees
- Credit card annual fees
- Babysitting, hair salons, health club facilities, sports, saunas, massages, laundry/dry cleaning, pet care, video rentals, movies or shoe shines
- Expenses related to the personal segment of business travel
- Expenses for travel companions/family members, souvenirs or gifts
- Travel costs such as: car washes; changes to scheduled air travel reservations due to personal preference. In flight telephone charges, “no-show” charges, optional insurance coverage, parking or traffic tickets, personal telephone calls, rental car upgrades, repairs, or maintenance
- Medical bills incurred during travel. However, medical expenses incurred by employees while traveling may be covered under the College’s workers’ compensation insurance. Employees shall document the circumstances of the injury and treatment by reporting the incident to their supervisor and both jointly completing the Supervisor’s Injury/Illness Analysis and Prevention Report and submitting the completed report to the EHS Office. Refer to the EHS web page, https://www.austincc.edu/offices/safety-and-environmental-management/workers-compensation, for information on workers’ compensation claims procedures.
- Personal items such as, clothing, luggage, briefcases, magazines, books, newspapers, subscriptions, gum, candy, cigarettes, personal toiletries
- Losses such as, loss or theft of personal funds or property, lost baggage
- Alcoholic beverages
- Charges for recreational events, including those associated with professional meetings and conferences (such as city tours, golf or tennis outings)
- Submitting Travel Expense Report – Within 14 days after returning from travel, each employee must submit a completed Travel Expense Report. The report must be submitted along with corresponding receipts, travel card, and substantiating documentation. Documentation must meet the requirements listed above under the Documentation Requirements for the Accountable Plan (A). Employees are strongly encouraged to take advantage of advance purchase discounts and special group fares by reserving air, lodging, car rental or rail travel at least 30 days in advance. An employee must submit a Travel Expense Report whenever travel expenses have been incurred – even if the employee is not seeking personal reimbursement.
- Air Travel – Air travel expenses are paid at the lowest available coach airfare. Employees may retain frequent flyer program benefits, provided that the program does not cause unnecessary and incremental costs to the College. Any discounts received from frequent flyer or rewards programs will not be paid as “costs.” The College will reimburse employees or pay vendors for reasonable ancillary costs, including charges for luggage other than carry-on.
- Use of Personal Auto – The College will reimburse employees for approved business use of personal cars when traveling, at the current IRS rate per mile (which is based on the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile). When two or more employees travel together, only the owner of the personal vehicle will be paid the mileage allowance. The use of carpooling is strongly encouraged whenever two or more employees travel to the same event. Employees who travel away from home should compare the costs of mileage reimbursement and related expenses with the costs of air travel, plus any related local transportation expenses; the choice of travel mode should be reasonable and prudent. Employees must consider the mode of travel that represents the best value for the College.
- Rental Car – With the prior written authorization of their supervisor and budget authority, employees may rent a car for business travel, when it is less expensive than other transportation modes such as taxis, airport limousines and airport shuttles. Employees are responsible for canceling rental car reservations with the rental company directly. Employees will not be paid for “no-show” charges, and verification of cancellation will be necessary in the event of a billing dispute. The College does not pay for rental car club membership programs. For questions concerning insurance coverage for rental cars, refer to Administrative Rule 3.1000.02, College Vehicle Use and Upkeep.
- Lodging – Lodging expenses will be paid or reimbursed for the actual and reasonable hotel room cost. Employees should attempt to secure the lowest rate for which they are eligible. Tips for hotel staff are included in the per diem rate for Meals and Incidental Expenses (see H, below). Employees are responsible for canceling hotel room reservations directly with the hotel. Cancellation deadlines are based on hotel policy. Employees will not be paid for “no-show” charges.
ACC employees on College business are exempt from paying state taxes for hotel charges within the state of Texas and will not be reimbursed for such taxes. Employees should take a Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate with them when traveling in Texas. This form is available at the College’s Purchasing Department Website.
- Meals and Incidentals – An employee can claim either per diem or actual expenses for meals incurred during the same trip, but not both.
Per Diem: Under the per diem allowance for meals and incidentals (M&IE), the College will pay the employee at the regular federal per diem rate method at the most recent standard CONUS M&IE rate. For both the departure day and the returning day, the College will reimburse 75% of the per diem allowance rate. For any other additional travel days, the College will reimburse the full per diem allowance rate. Hotel services and gratuities of 15% are included as part of the per diem M&IE rate. Itemized documentation and receipts are not required except when using the ACC Travel Card to pay for meals.
Actual Expenses: Under the actual expenses plan, the College will pay meal and incidental expenses within reasonable limits. Itemized documentation and receipts are required. If the employee’s supervisor considers an expense to be excessive, the expense may be reduced, or additional documentation to support the payment may be requested.
- Telephone – Employees will be paid for brief professionally-related telephone calls while traveling on College business. Employees will be responsible for any expenses incurred for personal telephone calls.
- Arriving Early or Departing Late – Employees who wish to arrive early or depart late for reasons of personal preference will be subject to the Combining Personal Travel with Business Travel section below (K).
- Combining Personal Travel with Business Travel – Additional hotel, meals, transportation and incidental expenses incurred during a personal segment of travel will not qualify for payment.
- Entertaining During Business Travel – Employees who entertain for purposes of promoting College business during business travel may charge or be reimbursed for such expenses, with the approval of their supervisor and budget authority.
- Travel Payments From Grant Accounts – Payment of travel expenses charged to grant accounts will be in accordance with this Administrative Rule or the specific grant guidelines, whichever is more restrictive.
- Foreign Travel – All foreign travel requires advance approval of the Chancellor.
- Requests for Reimbursement – All requests for reimbursement must be stated in U.S. dollars. The employee must document the source of the currency conversion method or provide evidence of any bank conversion rate.
- Passports – Employees are responsible for obtaining their own passports and the payment of any associated costs.
- Other Expenses – Other reasonable expenses required for foreign travel and directly related to College business, such as visas required for the trip, may be reimbursed with the approval of the supervisor and budget authority.