Below are some policies Alfred University employees should keep in mind while traveling for AU.
Travel Authorization and Advance Form (TAAF)
University travelers are required to complete a TAAF for all travel requiring overnight accommodations PRIOR TO securing flights or hotels (the TAAF is available in the Business Office or can be obtained online). The traveler should then verify that the TAAF was approved and the appropriate FOAP is noted; this prior approval should be received from the area VP/Dean or their designee. Research and grant related travel also requires prior approval by the Office of Sponsored Research Administration.
Advances will generally not be provided earlier than 10 working days before the planned departure date of the trip. Advances under $300 may be obtained via cash at the Business Office by the traveler or an authorized representative of the traveler, that must sign for the cash received. Advances over $300 will be issued via check or direct deposit with a minimum seven-day notice to the Business Office required.
Travel Advances should not be used for airline tickets which should be purchased using a university credit card either issued to the traveler or the department.
University travelers must request and save all itemized receipts. If a receipt for expenditure of $75 or more is lost, the traveler may attach a Missing Receipts Form signed by their supervisor, acknowledging the lost receipt and authorizing reimbursement. Charges where receipts are not practical should be itemized as to the date, amount, and purpose in the TER listing of miscellaneous expenses.
Travel Expense Report
Once the traveler has completed their trip(s), the traveler is required to complete the TER. The TER must have itemized receipts, documented business purpose, proper signature(s) of approval, and be submitted to the business office within 30 days of trip(s) completion. The University will not reimburse employee expenditures over 60 days old.
If the amount of the trip does not exceed the amount approved on the TAAF, then only the signature of the traveler is required (unless a division requires review post-trip). If the actual trip expenses are more than the pre-approved TAAF, then the signature of the area VP/Dean or their designee is required. Reimbursements will not be made without such approval.
For travel and business-related expenses to be excluded from the individual’s taxable income, the University policies must meet the IRS definition of an “accountable plan”.
Alfred University has implemented the following guidelines.
- Advances and reimbursements can only be made for business expenses in which a clear business reason exists and for which the cost is not excessive.
- Travelers must provide the Travel Expense Report substantiating the amount and business purpose of expenses in a reasonable period of time after travel.
- Travel advances in excess of substantiated expenses must be returned to the Business Office in a reasonable period of time after travel.
- The University has defined “a reasonable period of time” to be 30 days after the trip, or consecutive trips, are concluded. Consecutive trips are defined as trips with less than 5 calendar days between trips.
Employees must keep track of their expenses and substantiate the expenditures by submitting adequate, detailed supporting documentation. Any amounts paid to an employee that are not accounted for and substantiated in this way must be included in the employee’s taxable income and are subject to payroll tax withholding. Travel expense reports are subject to audit by government agencies and other sponsors. Employees whose travel is funded by a sponsored grant or contract are expected to be cognizant of the sponsoring agency’s procedures and policies and adhere to the restrictions.
The primary responsibility for interpretation of these policies rests with the department supervisors who are authorizing travel and approving expenditures. Each VP or Dean will be responsible for conveying the needs of the department to the Controller. The following alternatives are available for addressing the travel needs of the Department.
- A MasterCard may be issued to those individuals who travel on a regular basis. These cards will be embossed with the individual’s name.
- A departmental MasterCard may be issued to be used for individuals as their travel arrangements are made. This card will be embossed with an individual’s name on the card.
- A cash advance may be issued to cover meals and incidentals while traveling.
- The traveler may use his or her own credit card for meals and incidentals, for which he or she may expect reimbursement. (It is preferred that personal credit cards not be used for hotel and airfare unless unexpected changes require it, as in most cases the tax exempt status will not be honored.)
Employees whose travel is funded by a sponsored grant or contract are expected to be cognizant of the sponsoring agency’s procedures and policies and adhere to the restrictions.
Prior to processing Travel and Entertainment Expense Reports for payment, the Business Office will routinely review these documents for accuracy and proper documentation. This review includes verification of: proper supporting documentation, accuracy of addition and mileage calculations, authorizing signature, and FOAP numbers. In the course of the review, the Business Office may request additional information and/or approval from a VP when claimed reimbursements appear unreasonable or do not comply with University policy.
Travelers who have an excess in advance funds after the trip(s) completion, need to return those funds to the business office within 30 days. If the advance is not settled within 60 days, the individual will receive a notification that the amount has been forwarded to Payroll for appropriate payroll reporting and tax withholdings. Without providing adequate documentation to substantiate the business expenses covered by the cash advance (i.e., settling the advance), the University is required by the IRS to report these payments as taxable income to the employee.
Travel advances must not be used to cover personal expenses, which are the sole responsibility of the traveler. Advances lost or stolen are the responsibility of the traveler. Advances will not be granted to individuals who have overdue prior advances. Repeated failure to timely account for and return unused portions of travel advances can result in the denial of future travel advances.
Requests for advances are submitted on a Travel Authorization and Advance Request form (available in the Business Office in Jordan Hall or online). The full 17-digit FOAP to which the expenses will eventually be charged must be included for an advance to be issued. Requests for advances can be submitted during normal working hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Business Office (summer hours may affect these business hours).
It is not necessary for the employee requesting an advance to appear in person to pick up the advance, but the traveler’s signature is nonetheless required. (A secretary or designated person may pick up advances when a call is placed to the Business Office to inform them of this occurrence.) Employees should be prepared to show identification when picking up funds. Persons receiving advances are responsible for the funds in the event of theft or loss.
Advances will not be granted to individuals who have any outstanding prior advances. The Controller may revoke the right to obtain travel advances when necessary to avoid abuse of the policy.
University policy requires approval on all cash advances. The University does not allow an employee to authorize any advances made payable to him or herself. Likewise, approval of travel expense reports cannot be granted from a subordinate (i.e. an executive assistant cannot approve the request of a VP and a department secretary cannot approve the request of a department chair).
Travelers who have not settled their travel advances by the due date will be notified that the settlement is overdue. The appropriate fiscal or administrative officer of the area will also be notified of any outstanding advances. If the advance is not settled within 30 days, the individual will then receive a notification that the amount has been forwarded to Payroll for appropriate payroll reporting and tax withholdings. Without providing adequate documentation to substantiate the business expenses covered by the cash advance (i.e., settling the advance), the University is required by the IRS to report these payments as taxable income to the employee.
Alfred University is a not-for-profit institution, and the New York State sales tax exemption should be used for travel expenses within New York State and elsewhere, as appropriate. This would include hotels, restaurants, or other business-related purchases. Travelers may obtain copies of Tax-Exempt Forms from the Business Office website to present to the vendor at the time service is rendered or goods are received and paid for.