Travel & Expense Policy FAQ's
Effective January 1, 2016, there were two changes of note to the University’s Travel & Expense Policy:
- The University has adopted the IRS Receipt threshold of $75 for items placed on a University Travel Card (including Meeting Cards)
Receipts are no longer required for transactions under $75 – other than airfare, lodging, car rentals and purchases of alcohol – when placed on a University Travel Card. For transactions paid by cash or personal card, receipts are no longer required for transactions under $25.
Previously the policy required submitters to attach receipts for non-meal expenses of $25 or more as documentary evidence of the expense. Receipts were required for all meals, regardless of cost. The IRS created an exception to their documentary evidence rule years ago whereby submitters no longer needed a receipt if an expense was less than $75. The University is now adopting that IRS $75 threshold for expenses placed on the University Travel Card. While the traveler isn't required to keep all the smaller receipts, the traveler will still be asked to justify the expense. This policy item will be applied to any expense incurred after 12/31/15. Please review the FAQ's for more information.
- The University will reimburse airfare only after a business trip is complete.
Approvers and reviewers need to verify business travel occurred and business travel purpose before authorizing reimbursement. And flight cancellations booked outside of TravelND are difficult to track. With the ability for travelers to charge flights directly to a FOAPAL through the TravelND booking options for University travel, the traveler need not seek outside booking options. But if they do book outside TravelND, the traveler can no longer be reimbursed pre-trip. This policy item will be applied to flights booked after 12/31/2015. Please review the FAQ's for more information.
Why is the University adopting the IRS’s $75 threshold?
Data gathered in the four years of using TravelND for expense reports reflects that transactions under $75 represent a substantial percentage of transactions but a relatively small amount of the annual reimbursements to expense report submitters. These low dollar transactions require an inordinate amount of time spent by submitters, approvers, reviewers and auditors for the reimbursement amounts involved.
Why adopt a two-level threshold of $75/$25?
If placed on a University Travel Card, the transaction flows into the submitter’s transaction queue in Concur to drag and drop onto an expense report. The amount cannot be altered. These are the transactions are eligible for the $75 receipt threshold.
Transactions not on a University Travel Card are entered manually and the amount could be altered. For this reason, any manually entered transaction – even if placed on the University Travel Card – is subject to the lower $25 receipt threshold. Travelers using a University Travel Card are encouraged to wait for the card transaction to load into their transaction queue – usually within 3 -5 business days of the transaction date.
Does these new receipt thresholds also apply to Grants/Contracts?
Yes, all University transactions – regardless of funding source – are subject to the University’s Travel & Expense Policy and thus are subject to the higher receipt thresholds.
Are there any transactions that won’t benefit from the new receipt thresholds?
Receipts must be attached for airfare, lodging, car rentals and any purchases of alcohol, including meals with alcohol. Due to various federal/state grant guidelines as well as IRS restrictions, the new thresholds will not be extended to these items.
What if my department still requires receipts below the new policy thresholds?
A department is allowed to have stricter requirements than University policy.
Is the per diem method for meals still allowed?
Yes. The traveler can select either the per diem or actual expense method for each trip, but not a combination of the two. If the traveler selects the actual expense method, the $75/$25 receipt thresholds apply.
Do I still need to list attendees for a meal cost under the $75/$25 thresholds?
Yes, the only policy item changing is the need to attach a receipt. All other University policies still apply (e.g., Cell Phone Policy (http://policy.nd.edu/policy_files/MobileCommunicationsDevicePolicy.pdf), Gift, Prizes and Awards policy (https://controller.nd.edu/assets/91706/gift_current.pdf), Charitable Contributions Policy (https://evp.nd.edu/charitable-contributions/), etc.).
Do these new receipt thresholds apply to Pro Card transactions too?
No – the Pro Card program (intended for small dollar goods and services) is not adopting these new thresholds. The new receipt thresholds are for expense reports only. For more info, see ProCard policy at http://controller.nd.edu/assets/93354/procard_policy.pdf)
Reimbursements for Airfare FAQ's:
If I book flights via TravelND but want to pay with my personal card or the University travel card rather than charge a FOAPAL, can I submit for reimbursement prior to the trip?
Effective January 1, 2016 the University will no longer reimburse travelers for flights until after the trip has occurred. Travelers concerned about impact upon personal cash flow are encouraged to charge their business-related flights to a FOAPAL via TravelND (https://travel.nd.edu/).
Why is the University adopting this reimbursement policy on flights?
In 2008, the University T&E Policy was changed to allow reimbursement of flights pre-trip to encourage travelers to make use of available discounts via advanced travel booking. But with the TravelND program implemented a few years later now utilized by 75% of University travelers, the pre-trip reimbursement for those booking outside of TravelND counters what the University is trying to achieve. Travelers should use the TravelND program where flights can be charged to a FOAPAL and for these additional purposes:
- Traveler locations are more easily trackable in case of travel emergencies, and
- Approvers have the ability to track flight cancellations that are not easily visible when booked outside of TravelND, and
- The consistent purchasing channels/spend enable the negotiation of even better airline discounts for future University travelers.
Aren’t there still substantial discounts for booking flights substantially ahead of travel dates?
Yes. Studies have shown that prices increase substantially within 21 days of a trip and again within 14 days. The University encourages travelers to utilize TravelND to book flights well in advance to take advantage of the 14+ and 21+ day discounts.
What if I think I can get better pricing booking on my preferred travel website?
The TravelND program (Anthony Travel and the Concur booking tool) has been in place since 2010 and has been proven to offer competitive prices for University travelers. 75% of University travelers now use TravelND enabling the University to recently negotiate better discounted airfare (Delta, United, Southwest) for our travelers. These discounts are based on volume - if even more travelers utilize TravelND, even better discounts can be negotiated in the future.
What if I charge a flight to a FOAPAL and the flight is cancelled?
TravelND tracks credits from flight cancellations for future business use. Further, the University can monitor soon-to-expire credits and request them to be transferred to other travelers so the credits are not forfeited.