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.
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.
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.
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.
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.