Travel & Entertainment Policy
The purpose of the Travel and Entertainment (T&E) policy is to provide the college community with broad guidelines to ensure only reasonable and necessary expenditures for authorized business, travel and entertainment are incurred, documented, and paid for by the college in conformity with applicable laws, acceptable practices and common sense. In some cases, departments may impose more restrictive guidelines than those set forth in this policy.
This policy and all its documentation requirements apply to all employees and non-employees, e.g., trustees, volunteers, consultants, guest lecturers, interview candidates, et al. regardless of the particular source of funding.
The Internal Revenue Service imposes the following requirements on reimbursement of business expenses: 1) there must be a business reason for the expenses; 2) the individual must substantiate the expenses; and 3) the individual must return to the employer or organization any amount advanced in excess of the substantiated expenses.
Exceptions to this policy (not otherwise covered by laws, grants or contractual commitments) may be made on an individual basis, but require the travelers to obtain written pre-approval from the controller, who may consult with the appropriate member of senior staff. A copy of the pre-approval must be attached to the pertinent expense report(s).
Specific provisions that the college has accepted in sponsored program agreements will govern travel and other expenses on those awards and take precedence over the college's Travel & Entertainment Policy.
For travel and entertainment expenses to be paid or reimbursed, they must be properly accounted for on the applicable form, with the business purpose stated and proper supervisory approvals obtained. Approved requests for payments, reimbursements, and settlement of travel advances must be submitted to the Disbursements Office within a reasonable period of time, normally within 30 days of the completion of the travel, but not to exceed 150 days. All expenses must be documented, including any prepaid expenses.
The reimbursement form must contain all pertinent information: travel dates, purpose, destinations, fund, the individual account and organization codes, and appropriate authorization signatures. Be sure to identify the individual as a U.S. or a non-U.S. citizen. If the individual is a non-U.S. citizen, see Travel & Entertainment Policy for Nonresident Aliens.
Travelers must sign the forms to certify to the best of their knowledge that the information contained on the Expense Reimbursement form is accurate and that all claimed expenses were allowable and incurred in the conduct of official College business. If the traveler’s signature cannot be obtained due to extraordinary circumstances, the form may be processed with the departmental authorizing signature, provided that an adequate explanation is attached. Thus, an e-mail request or a memorandum for the record of the phone call from the spender/traveler may be used in lieu of the original signature.
Expenses incurred in a foreign currency must be converted to U.S. dollars by the spender/traveler. The exchange rate at the time the expense was incurred and the U.S. dollar equivalent must be provided on all receipts. Written documentation must include the exchange rate and date. This may be in the form of a receipt of currency exchange, credit card statement with exchange rate listed, etc. If expenses in foreign currency are paid by credit/charge card they may take a longer time to appear on the individual's statement. In this case, the individual should account for all expenses using estimated rates, but may later request an adjustment for foreign items by submitting the charge card statement.
College funds must be spent prudently. Travel and entertainment expenses will be paid or reimbursed by the College if they are reasonable, appropriately documented, properly authorized, and within the standards of this policy. Individuals who incur authorized expenses should neither gain nor lose personal funds as a result.
Individuals are responsible to follow College policies as respects to reporting of any accidents or other incidents that may result in a claim to the College. Failure to promptly report all accidents or incidents may result in disciplinary action.
The responsibility for review and approval of all College business, travel and entertainment expenses generally rests with the supervisor who is fiscally responsible for the account to which the expenditures will be charged. That supervisor may delegate authority to review and approve expenditures (except for their own - see note below) and to certify that funds are available to pay them, providing such delegation is communicated in writing to Accounts Payable.
It is the responsibility of the approving party to be familiar with the need for the business, travel and entertainment expenses and to be satisfied that they have been reported in a manner consistent with this policy. Such matters as requests for reimbursement for airfare when boarding has been denied, "no show" hotel charges, room service, etc. must be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the person approving or disapproving the expense.
Note: Travelers may not authorize reimbursement of their own business, travel and entertainment expenses or those of peers. Also, employees may not approve T&E expenses for an individual to whom they report.
- Reviewing forms and attachments for completeness, accuracy, reasonableness, and compliance with government regulations and College policies
- Verifying that funds, organizations, and accounts are correct and ensuring the appropriate recording of costs incurred;
- Returning forms to employees when items appear unreasonable, incomplete, personal in nature, or violate government regulations or College policies;
- Maintaining auditable records of travel expenses;
- Processing balances due to/from vendors and individuals;
- Monitoring to ensure that advances are cleared in a timely manner;
- Verifying required approval signatures
- Ensuring proper tax treatment of taxable income items and compliance with IRS regulations.
The College does not have an "official" travel agent. If you work with a travel agency, they simply need to be sure they are getting the best price.
When attending a conference or meeting, employees should check the group airfare rate negotiated by the sponsor before booking through a travel agent. Often, these group rates are quite a bit lower than fares that can be obtained directly from the airlines or through a local agent.
All efforts should be made to obtain the lowest coach fare available. This usually requires 14 to 30 days notice and a non-refundable ticket. In the event a non-refundable ticket has to be canceled, the airlines usually charge a fee and issue a credit, which has to be used by that individual within the year.
The last page of the airline ticket (passenger receipt) must be retained and submitted as the receipt for the trip. For electronic tickets, please submit the web page receipt or confirmation letter that is mailed to the employee. (This letter lists itinerary and amount charged to credit card.)
The employee may retain frequent flier miles; however, an employee should always travel on the least expensive airline, not the airline with which they have a frequent flier account. If an employee uses frequent flier miles, personal credit vouchers, etc. to pay for business travel they cannot be reimbursed for it.
Saturday night stay
When the savings generated by traveling and staying over a Saturday night exceed the cost of lodging and meals for a pre- or post-business period, the College encourages the employee to make the Saturday night stay. Entertainment and other personal expenses (including health club fees) incurred by the employee during this period, or at any other time, will not be covered by the College.
The College will reimburse for the cost of coach transportation. A member of Senior Staff must approve any upgrade to business class. The College will reimburse employees for currency exchange charges. Employees are encouraged to pay for meals, hotels and purchases on their corporate credit card as the cards often offer the safest and most economical exchange conversion.
The following should be considered before renting a car:
- Availability of hotel shuttle services and taxi cabs;
- Airport transfers (included at some hotels);
- Proximity of hotel to destination;
- Number of travelers (car sharing);
- Length of stay; and
- No-cost upgrades.
Justification for any car rental must be provided. Travelers will not be reimbursed for specialty rental vehicles (e.g., luxury, sports utility, and convertible).
Travelers must comply with all applicable local, state, federal, or international laws and regulations pertaining to the operation of a motor vehicle. Refer to the Travel Insurance section (page 12) for important information regarding the purchase of Collision Damage Waiver Insurance for rental vehicles. Unless a prepaid gas option is used, rental cars should be returned with a full tank of gas to avoid costly refueling charges and surcharges.
If you rent a vehicle while working on behalf of the College (including unpaid or volunteer work), you should rent the vehicle in the name of the College and your own name. This means that you should sign both your name and "Smith College" on the rental agreement. The College's Auto Policy will then respond as if the rented vehicle is an "owned" vehicle, so you should consider whether it is necessary to accept liability and collision insurance, unless your department has specifically decided to purchase the collision waiver in the U.S. or Canada OR you are renting outside the U.S and Canada. Never rent a vehicle valued in excess of $30,000.
It is important to inspect any rented vehicle before driving it. Make sure any dents, scratches or other damage to the vehicle are noted on the rental form. Otherwise, the College may have to pay for damages you did not cause. Departments may be required to contribute to deductible amounts for at-fault accidents.
Any employee involved in an automobile accident while using a rental vehicle on College business must contact the Controller x2200 as soon as reasonably possible.
Travelers should use taxis or public transportation in metropolitan areas to realize greater savings and convenience (e.g., New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, etc.).
Reasonable expenditures for local ground transportation to and from airports, railroad stations, hotels, meeting places, and business appointments are payable or reimbursable by the College. Parking fees and tolls are reimbursable whether a rental or personal car is used. Commuting costs are not reimbursable.
If a personal vehicle is used, the traveler is eligible for mileage reimbursement, which recognizes the cost of gas, oil, normal wear and tear, and insurance. The College reimburses actual mileage at the college’s annual reimbursement rate, which is usually equal to the standard IRS approved mileage reimbursement rate. See the Office of the Controller website for the rate applicable to the date of travel.
The College will reimburse transportation costs to the extent such costs exceed the normal daily commute to the office. Please note that an employee will not be reimbursed for traveling within the Northampton area or to any of the other four institutions within the Five Colleges Consortium or the Five College office in Amherst. To obtain reimbursement, an Expense Reimbursement Report form must be completed stating the destination and actual mileage traveled. Mileage reimbursement may not exceed the cost of available alternate transportation, i.e., the reimbursement for mileage should not exceed the lowest train or airfare available. In cases where the employee elects to drive rather than travel by plane or train, the lower of the available alternatives will be reimbursed to the employee.
When you drive your own car on College business, your own insurance policy serves as a "primary" policy for third party liability and physical damage to your vehicle. This means that if a claim arising out of an accident exceeds your policy limits, then the College's policy will cover the accident in excess of your policy. For example, if you carry $20,000/$40,000 liability insurance, and injure a pedestrian severely, resulting in over $100,000 of medical bills, your policy would pay the first $20,000 of the claim, and the College policy would respond for the balance of the claim.
If your vehicle is damaged as a result of an accident, whether it is your fault or not, your comprehensive/collision coverage would respond. You are responsible for any deductible amounts under your policy. If you do not carry any collision insurance, then the entire amount of the damage is your responsibility. Neither the College nor the College's Insurance will pay for any physical damage to your vehicle - you use it at your own risk. Mileage reimbursements are designed to include an incremental cost for insurance and deductibles.
Any employee involved in an at-fault accident which results in bodily injury to third party while using a personal vehicle for College business travel should contact the Controller, x2200 as soon as reasonably possible.
The College will not process travel advances, authorizations, prepaid expense requests, wire transfers or payment/reimbursement of business, travel or entertainment expenses for spouses or family members who accompany College employees or students on College business except in those unusual circumstances which require their presence. The appropriate member of Senior Staff must approve any unusual circumstance in advance in writing. Should a spouse or dependent be approved to accompany an employee on College business, reporting of expenses must follow this policy.
When a spouse or family member(s) for personal reasons accompanies a traveler, the College will only reimburse the traveler for the cost of a single room.
Note: Junior Year Abroad Directors should refer to their policy incorporated here by reference.
Travel & Entertainment Policy for Nonresident Aliens
All payments involving non-U.S. citizens must be approved by the Payroll and Disbursements Office and must include a social security number or an individual tax identification number (ITIN). Visiting foreign scholars, nonresident alien contractors, nonresident alien employees and others performing personal services must submit the general documentation required by this policy along with the additional forms required under the next paragraph. Under no circumstances should an agreement or document be signed unless the payee's status is determined for tax and other regulatory purposes.
If reimbursement is being requested (via check, wire, or other means) and receipts (converted into U.S. currency), approvals, etc., are adequate, withholding will not be required (i.e., the business-related reimbursement income will not be treated as taxable).
If a department desires to make a payment directly to a third party, such as to a travel agency, airline, hotel, credit card company, etc. on behalf of a nonresident alien, prepayment approval from the Payroll and Disbursements Office must be obtained.
Following are the various methods of payment for official College business, travel and entertainment expenses. The payment types may have restrictions as to their use.
College employees who travel on college business frequently (two or more trips per year) are encouraged to obtain a Corporate Card and to use the card for expenses associated for authorized business travel and entertainment. The charge card is issued to individual travelers jointly with Smith College. It is to be used only for reimbursable expenses incurred in connection with official College business, and it is the sole responsibility of the cardholder to pay all bills in a timely fashion directly to the Corporate Card company. The Corporate Card may not be used for personal purchases under the terms of the application submitted by the employee. Also, the Corporate Card may not be used to purchase goods and services that require a College purchase order or Procurement Card. The College will not remit payment directly to the Corporate Card company. Reimbursement is issued to the employee, provided proper documentation has been submitted and all expenses are approved.
Regular travelers should contact the Office of the Controller (x 2200) for a Corporate Card application. Where the Corporate Card is not accepted, travelers are expected to exercise good judgment in determining the proper means of payment.
The Corporate Card is the property of Smith College and must be surrendered upon termination of employment. Cancellation of the Corporate Card account is at the discretion of the issuer or the Controller. Corporate Cards for closed accounts must be cut in half and returned to the Office of the Controller. Employees must immediately notify the Corporate Card company and the Office of the Controller (x 2200) when a Corporate Card is lost or stolen.
Personal Charge Card or Cash
Business, travel and entertainment expenses may be paid with a personal charge card or cash. For reimbursement, please submit these expenses with receipts on the proper form as indicated in the Expense Reimbursement Report section.
Travelers are eligible for advances of $50 per day up to a maximum of $250 per week for reasonable out-of-pocket travel expenses.
Travelers may receive advances in the form of a College Accounts Payable check to be issued less than two weeks prior to travel. Allow at least five working days for check preparation. Travel advances must be accounted for on an Expense Reimbursement form, as detailed in the Expense Reporting section. Failure to account for travel advances within the required time frame may result in the following outcomes:
- Income tax consequences;
- No future travel advances being granted to the individual; and/or
- For students, the College will post charges to the student's bill.
Prepaid Travel Expenses
These are paid directly to outside vendors from the departmental budget and are paid in advance by the College on behalf of the traveler. To prepay expenses, send a completed Accounts Payable Voucher form to Accounts Payable or the Disbursements Office. Include a copy of pertinent conference registration form, hotel bill, or other appropriate documentation. Prepaid travel should be reported on the T&E form as having been prepaid. For travelers who purchase airline or rail tickets well in advance of a scheduled trip, the traveler may wish to submit these expenses for reimbursement prior to traveling. Documentation must include the original itinerary, a copy of the ticket or other original document, and the original credit card or other receipt.
These may be useful for group travel. Contact the Office of the Controller at x2200 for detailed instructions.
Please contact the Purchasing Office.
Individuals incurring business, travel and entertainment expenses are required to substantiate all payments generally by submitting dated original receipts with the proper form and explanations.
|Expense Item||Examples of Required Documentation|
|Air or rail||Original passenger coupon or E-ticket receipt, plus itinerary|
|Hotel||Original itemized bill including final settlement|
|Car rental||Original agreement including final settlement|
|Meals/entertainment over $25||Original credit card or cash register receipt for expenditures plus business purpose, discussion topic, and guests denoted regardless of amount|
|All other||Original credit card, cash register receipt, or signed statement by spender/traveler regardless of the dollar amount.|
If an expense is partially covered by an organization other than the College, duplicate copies of the receipts may be submitted by attaching a copy of the request for reimbursement submitted to the other organization.
An individual incurring expenses who loses a required receipt should seek a duplicate or faxed copy from the originator. When an acceptable duplicate cannot be obtained, the employee should submit substantiation in other ways, such as an expense diary, etc. An explanation of why a receipt was not obtained at the time of the transaction and the efforts afterward to obtain the missing documentation would be helpful. The Controller's Office may request further explanation, documentation, and has the final decision on the acceptance/rejection of any such expenses.
Expenses will be reimbursed only if incurred during the conduct of authorized business activities. All of the following information must be supplied for reimbursement:
- The date, amount and business purpose of the activity;
- Identification of all those in attendance;
- The business relationship(s) of the person(s) attending;
- The establishment where the activity took place; and
- The appropriate approval signature.
If the above information is not supplied, the IRS may require that the expenses be added to the traveler's taxable income regardless of amount.
Business Travel Insurance
All College employees are covered in case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on College business.
Workers Compensation Insurance
If you are injured while working on a business trip, you are covered for medical expenses and lost wages by Workers Compensation Insurance. Contact Human Resources as soon as possible to file an accident report, and obtain further instruction. Failure to promptly report an injury may compromise your claim. Injuries sustained while not working, though you may be away from home on business travel, are not covered by Workers Compensation Insurance. If there is a question on this, as respects a specific incident, contact Human Resources for clarification.
Flight insurance purchased by individuals is not a reimbursable expense.
Collision Damage Waiver Insurance (Rental Car)
In the U.S. and Canada, travelers should consider purchasing the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Liability Damage Waiver (LDW) insurance offered by car rental agencies because the College's insurance carries a $1,000 deductible. All basic insurance, including collision damage MUST be purchased on all rentals in foreign countries other than Canada.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
The College will not reimburse travelers for PAI or other liability insurance offered by domestic rental car agencies, because the College provides coverage.
College employees using personal automobiles to travel on official College business must maintain adequate liability insurance for their protection and for the protection of any passengers.
Other Personal Property
The College will not be responsible for loss or damage to personal property while an employee is traveling on official College business. College Property: The College has transit coverage on all its property, with a deductible of $10,000, and a limit of $250,000.