Employees traveling on University business are eligible for reimbursement for their personal meal expenses. Employees may choose to submit receipts for their actual meal expenses or they may opt to use the per diem rate; you cannot combine both methods on the same trip. Actual meal expenses will be reimbursed only up to the maximum amount of the per diem rate.
Determining Per Diem Amounts
Per diem is calculated using the traveler’s time of departure and time of return. The IRS does not consider per diem for travel that is not accompanied by an overnight stay as a reimbursable expense. The university will continue to reimburse these requests, but they will be considered a taxable benefit.
- Employees traveling over 12 hours but with no overnight stay are eligible for 75% per diem, since that would be the first and only day of travel. This is always considered taxable travel because there is no period for rest (which is required by the IRS to be considered non-taxable.)
- Employees traveling for two days are eligible for 75% per diem for the first day and 75% per diem for the second day (first and last day of travel.)
- Employees traveling for three days are eligible for 75% per diem for the first day, 100% per diem for the second day, and 75% per diem for the last day.
For instance, if a traveler left for a trip at 6 a.m. on January 1 and returned at 4 p.m. on January 4, the traveler would be entitled to three days per diem. The traveler would not be eligible for a half-day per diem on January 4 because it is only 10 hours from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and therefore does not meet the 12 hour half-day requirement.
Exception - Conference Meals
Conferences frequently provide meals to attendees as part of the registration fee. The traveler is not entitled to a meal per diem allowance for meals that are included as part of the registration fee. The same is true for any meetings attended where a catered meal is provided, or where the traveler has been included on a list of attendees for a business expense.
To assist with the determination of which meals were provided during a conference, a copy of the agenda (meeting schedule) must be included with the travel reimbursement request.
Travel submissions must also include the actual time of departure from the traveler’s home or place of business for the trip, and time the traveler arrived home (or ended their University business if using personal time while on their trip).
If certain circumstances, such as unique dietary needs, make it necessary for the traveler to forego the provided meal, the traveler may then claim up to the maximum meal allowance. In such cases a receipt(s) and a written explanation are required.
Exception - Business Meals Incurred While in Travel Status
Per diem may not be claimed for any meals that are reimbursed by the filing of a Business Entertainment Expense Report.