Travel Reimbursement

1. General Provisions

State regulations provide reimbursement limits for meal and lodging costs incurred as a result of authorized travel. No reimbursement is allowed for lunch. Meal and lodging charges within thirty-five miles of an employee's official station or place of residence are also not allowed.

Union agreements specify various reimbursement rates. Care should be exercised to ensure the proper rates are used when submitting vouchers for payment. Special rates are issued by the Office of the State Comptroller for international travel. These rates are available in the Accounting Office Travel Unit, 437-3872.

Employees with permanent disabilities may be entitled to reasonable and necessary expenses in excess of the rates for meals and lodging. Exceptions are made on a case by case basis. Contact the Accounting Office Travel Unit (437-3872) to determine eligibility for additional expense reimbursement.

2. Departure/Arrival Time Requirements

Breakfast
Charges will be allowed when the time of departure from home or office at the beginning of a trip necessarily occurs at least one hour before their normal work start times.

Dinner
Charges will be allowed when time of return to home or office at the conclusion of a trip necessarily occurs at least two hours later than their normal ending work time.

3. Travel Status

Meal expense reimbursements are excluded from an employee's income when they are associated with overnight business travel. Generally, this rule is satisfied if an employee must be released from his or her principal post for a period that will enable the employee to get sufficient sleep or rest to complete the travel assignment.

Employees on business trips lasting one day or less may be eligible for reimbursement of breakfast and dinner. The Internal Revenue Service requires that meal reimbursements associated with travel not requiring the employee to sleep or rest, constitute taxable income to the employee. Thus, these reimbursements are reported in the employee's gross income and are subject to withholding taxes.

The following examples clarify the application of the Internal Revenue Service requirement regarding taxability of travel reimbursements:

  • An employee travels to Buffalo on business, leaving his residence at 5:30 a.m. to arrive on time for a full day of meetings commencing at 10:30 a.m. The employee eats breakfast on the road and departs Buffalo at 7:45 p.m. after having dinner. In accordance with the State Comptroller's regulations, the employee is reimbursed for breakfast and dinner. As this trip did not require the employee to stop for rest or sleep to complete the trip, the amounts the employee receives to cover meal expenses will be reported as gross income and subject to withholding taxes.
  • Assume the same facts as above except the employee parked in a rest area on the thruway and slept in the car for two hours. The meal reimbursement is taxable because, to be applied, the overnight rule requires a stop of sufficient duration that it would normally result in a significant increase in expenses. In effect, the employee must incur a lodging expense for the overnight rule to apply.
  • An employee goes on a business trip, leaving on a Monday and returning on a Friday. The reimbursement for all meals including those eaten on the last day of the trip, are not taxable. These expenses are treated as part of a trip that required an overnight stay.
  • An employee attends a professional meeting in a city two hours away. A meal is served as part of the program. Reimbursements received are not taxable because the meal consumed is part of a program designed to achieve a business objective.

4. Processing

All requests for reimbursement must be filed on the State of New York Travel Voucher (Form AC 132). Support documents (receipts, etc.) should be attached and cross-referenced on the travel voucher. University at Albany policy requires original receipts for ALL expenses being claimed.

Upon completion of the trip, the traveler prepares a Travel Voucher, signs it, and attaches all documents necessary to support the items being claimed. If a personal car was used, the Statement of Automobile Travel form (Form AC 160) should be completed and attached.

The traveler forwards the Travel Voucher with all supporting documents to the account manager to be approved, signed and forwarded to the Accounting Office, MSC 203.

All travel reimbursement are either direct deposited into the traveler's bank account (same as paycheck) or a check is mailed to the traveler's home address.

5. Reimbursement Rate Schedule

The traveler can be reimbursed for travel expenses by one of two methods. Method I is a per diem allowance, while Method II pays the actual lodging cost to a maximum amount plus a per diem meal allowance. In either case, no reimbursement is allowed for lunch.

Allowable lodging and meal rates are the same for all negotiating units and are dependent upon the county and city to which the person travels.

ATTACHMENT III-1 summarizes allowable reimbursements under Method I and Method II. It also covers reimbursement for personal car mileage, meal allowances for non-overnight travel, and an explanation of how the meal per diem can be used in part to offset lodging rates that exceed the maximum allowance.

When completing Travel Vouchers, the city and county travelled to must be clearly indicated for payment to be made.

6. Transportation By Common Carrier

a. Travel by Air

All airfare must be charged to your NYS Travel Card with one of the two state contracted travel agencies. Please see the topic, "University Designated Travel Agencies" for a listing of the available travel agents.

Exceptions to the use of this contract shall only be made for emergency situations or where a special incentive fare may save more than $200 over the contract price. Please note, exceptions to the use of the contract require prior approval by the Agency Finance Officer. A quote is required from the State contracted travel agency as to fare price.  OSC has confirmed that additional travel insurance is at the expense of the traveler, not the State.

When making reservations, you must be able to provide the following information:

The entity you are traveling for, the traveler's name and NYS Travel Card number, destination and dates of the potential trip.

Each agency has created a master profile and will create personal profiles for individuals who request them.

In all cases of travel by air, the passenger's portion of the airline ticket must be attached to the NYS Travel Card reconciliation form.

b. Travel by Train or Bus

Reimbursement is limited to coach fare when the trip is a daytime trip of 200 miles or less each way. Regular first class fare will be allowed for trips over 200 miles each way. The traveler should take advantage of round-trip or excursion rates whenever possible.

Service on trains is limited to chair rates for daytime travel and roomette rates for overnight travel. All charges for sleeping car and parlor car accommodations must be supported by a roometteor seat check as well as an appropriate explanation of why such accommodations were needed.

Tipping of porters for official travel within the State will be allowed at the rate of 25 cents for parlor car or chair accommodations and 50 cents for sleeping accommodations. On longer trips involving out-of-state travel, reasonable tipping charges will be allowed.

c. Traveling by Amtrak

Amtrak offers special governmental employee rates for travel between Albany/Rensselaer and New York City, and Schenectady and New York City. The governmental employee rates must be obtained, and reimbursement will be made at these rates only (See AttachmentIII-1). It is suggested that the employee use the University-designated travel agency to schedule all train travel.

Amtrak ticket agents require New York State employees to identify their employment status to obtain the lower rates. Presenting a University Identification Card satisfies this requirement.

d. Taxicab and Limousine Charges

Taxicab charges are allowed. Reasonable customary tipping will be allowed. Tips should not be claimed separately but, rather, should be included in taxicab charges.

e. Reimbursement for Travel between Residence and Transportation Terminal

When in travel status, employees may be reimbursed for the following travel expenses incurred between residence and transportation terminals (bus stations, airports, State garages, etc.).

  • Actual cost incurred.
  • Actual cost incurred for travel between transportation terminals.
  • Personal car mileage at the negotiated rate (see Reimbursement Rate Schedule). The employee must provide receipts to be reimbursed. Parking meter charges will be allowed when the employee lists on the voucher the date and place the charges were incurred.

7. Transaction Fees

Transaction fees vary by travel agency. Please see topic, "University Designated Travel Agencies" for fees.

*Airline Transaction Fee - The contractor is allowed to charge a Transaction Fee for reserving, booking and issuing airline tickets (Electronic or Paper Tickets). One transaction fee may be charged per trip, for booking and ticketing air travel. For purposes of airline transaction fees, a "Trip" is defined as all segments booked for one individual at one time for one itinerary. Any service not itemized separately in this amendment is designated as a non-fee item and shall be considered to be part of and included in the Transaction Fee charge. Additional charges for any service that is not listed will be considered to be a part of the Transaction Fee charge.

**Bus/Train Transaction Fee - Travel agents may charge a transaction fee for booking train and/or bus transportation (bus tickets must be booked with commercial bus transportation companies, such as Greyhound and Trailways). This charge is allowed on a per ticket (per traveler) basis unless the transaction is for bulk ticketing. Bulk ticket issues are allowed only one transaction fee for the entire group of tickets. Bus/Train bulk ticketing is encouraged, when possible. Bulk ticketing is defined as multiple tickets ordered by one entity, at one time, for delivery to one location. Time permitting, train and bus tickets should be mailed first class with no additional charges. (Motor coach group bookings are excluded.)

***Delivery by Messenger has been deleted from the State contract. E-ticketing is highly encouraged to lower the cost of delivery by a State contracted courier service. For non-priority tickets, arrangements for delivery through 1st class mail is acceptable. Ticket delivery shall be accomplished by satellite ticket printer or e-ticketing at no additional fee. When an e-ticket is issued, the travel agent contractor must fax or e-mail a confirmation to the purchasing agency. The using entity may use one of the contractors from the Statewide Courier Services contract to pick up tickets from the travel agent for delivery to their location. If this method of delivery is utilized, consideration should be given to use the least cost delivery time category that provides the tickets within the necessary time frame.

8. Transportation by Motor Vehicles

a.  Transportation by Rental Vehicles

When use of a rental vehicle is necessary and prudent, travelers should use a rental company on the NYS Passenger Vehicle Rental Contract to obtain the lower rental rates offered to NYS agencies. Use of a rental company not on the NYS contract must be justified.

Reserving a Vehicle: You may use the State Contracted Travel agency Direct Travel or you may go directly thru one of these companies via the online link below or telephone.

There is no Option to Direct Bill a Car Rental. All Rentals must be paid for with a Credit Card.

Payment: Travelers should use their NYS Travel Card to pay for vehicle rentals. Use of the NYS travel card provides insurance (commonly referred to as Collision Damage Waiver Insurance) for damage to the rental vehicle. Renting under the contract and paying with the NYS travel card provides sufficient insurance coverage for rentals of 31 days or less so purchasing additional insurance is not necessary. If travelers are unable to rent from one of the NYS contracted companies, additional insurance coverage must be purchased. The inability to rent from a contracted agency must be documented.

The NYS contract provides

• Reduced rental rates
• Standard size vehicle rentals as a rule. Any vehicle upgrades must be justified.
• Unlimited mileage
• No additional fee for picking up a vehicle in one location and dropping it off in another location as long as the two locations are within 500 miles of each other.

• Tax Exempt rentals in New York State. When renting under the contract and paying with the NYS travel card, an AC946 tax exempt form is not required. When picking up your rental, present your University ID and remind the counter agent to remove all NYS taxes from your rental agreement. Always review your agreement before leaving to ensure all NYS taxes have been removed. Travelers who pay NYS taxes must obtain a credit from the rental company or reimburse the University directly through other funds.

Important Reminders:

• Additional Add-ons must be justified.
• Tickets and toll violations must be reimbursed.
• Retain receipts for Fuel, Tolls, or any other expenses related to the Car Rental. These expenses can be placed on the travel card or submitted for reimbursement.
• Toll expense receipts while renting a car can be reprinted from this site https://www.htallc.com/default.aspx
• Any use of the car rental period for personal use must be reimbursed back to the University.

Contracted Companies: Each company has a NYS Contract Code that must be provided to car rental reservation agents or entered on their website to ensure state rental rates are obtained for the rental.

1. Enterprise Rent-a-Car (www.enterprise.com): Contract code JN0172

Website Reservations: on the Start a Reservation Page, place the Contract Code in the following box after all rental details are entered and click the CONTINUE  button.

The next screen will confirm the rental is under the University Contract

ENTERPRISE  SUNY ALBANY (Account Number Added)                   $0.00

 Phone Reservations: Provide the Contract Code to the Reservationist

2. National Car Rental (www.nationalcar.com): Contract code JN0172

Website Reservations- on the main page, place the Contract Code in the following box after all rental details are entered and click  START RESERVATION 

     Contract ID     

The next screen will confirm the rental is under the University Contract

     You are travelling on your SUNY ALBANY contract.    

Phone Reservations: Provide the Contract Code to the Reservationist

3. Hertz (www.hertz.com): Contract code 1927843

Website reservations: On the main page, enter the code in the Discount/CDP field

The next screen will confirm the rental is under the University Contract

    Discounts

    CDP:  SUNY Albany

    Official Travel

 
Phone Reservations: Provide the Contract Code to the Reservationist

b. Transportation by Privately Owned Vehicles

When a privately owned vehicle is used for University business, the traveler will be reimbursed at the current approved mileage rate ATTACHMENT III-1. Reimbursement is allowed for all travel necessary to accomplish the purpose of the trip.

A Statement of Automobile Travel (Form AC 160) must be attached to the Travel Voucher to support the miles claimed. The total of the "Miles Traveled" column on the Statement of Automobile Travel should agree with line 16 on the Travel Voucher and will be used as the basis for mileage reimbursement.

When a personal car is used for official travel beginning or ending at the employee's residence rather than his or her official station and destination is 35 miles or more from the official station, the traveler may be reimbursed (in accordance with his or her allowed mileage rate) for the distance between their residence and the destination of travel.

When an employee uses a personal car on State business and is involved in an accident, the employee's insurance provides the primary source of coverage. State involvement is subject to specific requirements detailed in Section 17 of the New York State Public Officer's Law.

c. Vehicle Incumbent Costs

Tolls and parking charges will be reimbursed. Claims for reimbursement for parking charges must indicate the place and time parking was incurred.

9. Travel By Privately Owned Airplanes

In cases where travel by air is justified, travel by a privately owned airplane will be reimbursed at the maximum rate of $.28, $.25 or $.205 per mile, depending on the bargaining unit. The reimbursement rate is the same regardless of the number of passengers.

If employees are authorized to use privately owned planes on University business, they must have a number of items on file with the Office of the State

Comptroller. Please contact theAccounting Office before using a privately owned plane for Statetravel.

10. Lodging

Please be aware of per diem rates (link to per diem rates) in the city and county you will be staying in. Per diem can only be exceeded under certain circumstances.

http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/current_forms/st/st129_fill_in.pdf

11. Incidental Travel Expenses

a. Telephone, Telegraph and Fax Charges

Reimbursement claims for long distance telephone calls and fax charges must be fully documented and receipted to be paid in full. The Travel Voucher should include information, such as name of party called, place called, date of call, and statement of official business. Only the date of a call is required for local calls. In the case of charges for telegrams, the employee must provide the date, name, and address of the person to whom the telegram was sent.

Telephone calls and telegrams pertaining to such issues as leaves of absence, payment of salaries, expense vouchers, or personal business are not reimbursable.

b. Miscellaneous Charges

  • Reimbursable Expenses

    Baggage transfer charges are allowed, but must be satisfactorily explained.

    Claims for reimbursement of expenditures made for the purchase of authorized supplies, stenographic and typewriting expenses not exceeding $10 or similar charges incidental to travel must be supported by an itemized receipt. New York State sales taxes will not be reimbursed on these items. Sales tax exempt forms are available in the Accounting Office.
  • Non-reimbursable expenses - laundry, valet service, theater and banquet tickets, and entertainment and alcohol are considered personal items and will not be reimbursed.

c. E-Z Pass

There are two types of documentation that may be submitted to reimburse travelers for E-Z Pass tolls. The travelers may submit their E-Z Pass statement or go to the following website to create the documentation. To use the E-Z Pass toll calculator please enter the following:

http://www.nysthruway.gov/tolls/calc/index.html

  1. Go to Tool and Distance Calculator
  2. Select type of vehicle
  3. Submit
  4. Choose a starting point
  5. Choose an ending point
  6. Calculate Toll
  7. Print and attach to travel voucher