Business and Travel Expense FAQs
What is an IRS accountable plan?
An IRS accountable plan is an employee reimbursement allowance arrangement or a method for reimbursing employees for business and travel expenses that complies with IRS regulations. Maintaining an accountable plan in compliance with IRS regulations prevents employee expenses from being treated as taxable income.
What IRS regulations apply to an Accountable Plan?
The main IRS regulations that detail accountable plan requirements are:
- Treasury Regulation § 1.62-2 (26 C.F.R. § 1.62-2), Reimbursements and other expense allowance arrangements
- Treasury Regulation § 1.162-1 (26 C.F.R. § 1.162-1), Business expenses
- Treasury Regulation § 1.162-2 (26 C.F.R. § 1.162-2), Travel expenses
- Treasury Regulation § 1.274-5 (26 C.F.R. § 1.274-5), Substantiation requirements
These regulations, along with the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26 of the United States Code), can be retrieved through the IRS website.
Where can I find information on the University Record Retention Policy? How long do we have to keep receipts?
We are required to keep receipts for six years or until audit is complete, whichever is greater.
Why can’t we set a receipt threshold higher than $75?
The policy seems to allow much broader business decision making at the department level (designated departmental finance representative)? Please explain:
Who is the designated departmental finance representative?
What training/communication options are there on this policy?
The Business and Travel Expense policy website contains extensive information regarding the revised policy. Some of the information available includes:
Policy Development and Changes includes the policy, the policy development process and the committee members, and a high-level summary of the changes.
Implementation Aids & Tools includes:
- a policy summary brochure that can be printed double-sided on a piece of legal paper),
- a forms section with links to all policy related forms including some that are prototypes for department al modification and usage; and
- the DDFR listing (designated departmental financial representative) that identifies individuals that can approve upgrades/exceptions that are defined in the policy.
Frequently Asked Questions includes questions relating to the policy and are grouped into broad categories for ease of use.
As we scan and reduce paper routing through the university, do you have suggestions for copying/scanning?
What happens when there are expenses that were being externally submitted initially-and the internal component is just the residual--which could necessitate delay? Would I be taxed if submitting after 90 days in this case?
How are communications costs (e.g., cell phone, blackberry) addressed?
These costs may be covered under the Carnegie Mellon University Communications Allowance Guidelines - effective July 1, 2009.
If an individual does not receive a Communications Allowance and has a business requirement that causes them to incur communication costs, they can submit an expense report that includes the following information:
Time: 6:00 PM
Names of all individuals participating in the phone call: Suzie Smith and James Bond
Detailed Business purpose of call: Discussion on discount structure available to CMU faculty and staff with regards to the new Communication Allowance Guidelines that are being implemented across campus.
Detailed explanation of business relationship with all participating parties on the call: S. Smith is the University's point of contact at
Verizon for wireless services and J. Bond is the Associate Director of Procurement Services who handles the relationship between CMU and Verizon.
If an individual receives a Communications Allowance, there would be no additional reimbursement of costs, except in extenuating circumstances.
What are the university preferred travel agencies?
If I pay for a hotel room with frequent hotel reward points, am I able to request reimbursement?
Who should I contact if I have a medical reason that requires me to fly first class or business class?
Am I able to obtain reimbursement for fees incurred for an early or late return due to weather, cancellations, or overbooking?
What costs are reimbursable when applying for a US/International Visa renewal?
The following costs will be considered reimbursable when acquiring a US/International Visa:
- Travel to and from the location where the visa is to be obtained;
- Lodging cost for one night at the location where the visa is to be obtained; and
- Any direct business expense incurred during travel to the location where the visa is to be obtained.
Employees should also be advised that such travel should coincide with other University related business travel when possible in order to minimize the costs incurred for obtaining the visa.
Can gift cards that were used to pay for university travel be submitted for reimbursement on an expense report?
No, an employee will not be reimbursed for expenses paid with a gift card. Reimbursement for travel costs will only be made to employees using a personal credit card that can be directly linked to their name.
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