The following policy has been established to provide guidance on the use of the University’s resources to pay (either through reimbursement, advance or P-Card charge) travel and entertainment expenses incurred by PLU student
clubs/organizations while conducting University business. The purpose is to help the University effectively monitor and control costs, and to adequately comply with the accountable plan rules set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (For specific requirements imposed by the IRS for employee business expenses, see IRS Publ. 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses). Per this publication, “To be an accountable plan, an employer’s [or student’s] reimbursement or (expense) allowance arrangement must include all of the following rules:
- Your expenses must have a business connection—that is, you must have paid or incurred expenses while performing services as a student representative of PLU.
- You must adequately account to the Office for Student Engagement for these expenses within two weeks,
- You must return any excess reimbursement or allowance to Student Engagement in conjunction with the Business Office within a reasonable period of time.
Per the same publication, “a non-accountable plan is a reimbursement or expense allowance arrangement that does not meet one or more of the three rules listed” (above). Any amounts reimbursed or paid to you in the form of an advance, which have not met the three rules, will be included in your income in box 1 of your Form W-2. Therefore, PLU has elected to have its students follow the accountable plan rules, and expects all students to adhere to this policy.
Under PLU’s accountable plan, reimbursable travel and entertainment expenses need to meet the following additional requirements:
- Travelers must submit to the Business Office an approved Travel Expense Voucher substantiating the amount, time, use and business purpose of expenses within 20 days after the expenses are incurred.
- Student groups must also return to the Business Office any advance amounts in excess of substantiated expenses within 20 days after the completion of the trip.
- These guidelines are intended to provide student groups, who are authorized to travel on behalf of the university, with adequate means of transportation, lodging, meals and other services necessary to conduct university club/organization business. The university intends that student groups should travel in comfort when away from home on business. However, accommodations, meals, transportation and services used should be in keeping with those the individual would use if he/she were paying out-of-pocket. It is expected that those traveling on PLU club/organization business will act as responsible stewards of club/organization funds, and will avoid excessive or extravagant expenditures.
- Before undertaking any travel for the university, student groups must seek the approval of the Office for Student Engagement. Should the Office for Student Engagement require the completion of a Pre-Travel Authorization Form, it can be found on the Business Office’s web page under Downloadable Forms. When completed properly, this form is helpful in determining the validity and feasibility of the intended travel. (The Business Office, however, does not require this form unless the student group is requesting advance payments.)
- In the instance that the student group needs a travel advance, either in the form of cash or other prepayment, an approved Pre-Travel Authorization Form is required by the Business Office. Travel advances, aside from reimbursement of a student group advance purchase of airfare for the trip, will normally be limited to $125.00 per day. Requests must be submitted to the Business Office by 5 pm on Monday (or the first business day of the week) in order for a check to be available on Friday (or the last business day of that week). If the total amount of the travel advance exceeds $125.00, it will be issued in the form of a check.
- An approved Travel Expense Voucher must be submitted to the Office for Student Engagement within fifteen (15) days from the date that the last expense was incurred on the trip. In most cases, subsequent travel advances or reimbursements will not be processed for student groups who have a travel expense report that is overdue. Requests for reimbursement of club/organization mileage and related expenses incurred for local travel on university business must also be submitted on an Auto Mileage Form by the 15th of the month following the expense.
- To ensure reimbursement of incurred expenses; the following must be documented in the space provided on the Travel Expense Voucher:
- The business purpose of the trip or entertainment.
- The dates and corresponding amounts of each item of expense.
- If any of the expenses were incurred on the behalf of other non- PLU employees, state their business relationship to PLU (i.e., purpose of the business entertainment.)
The University requires that original receipts be submitted for all expenses, including itemized restaurant receipts, when available. Per IRS Publ. 463, a restaurant receipt is enough to prove an expense for a business meal if it has all of the following information:
- The name and location of the restaurant.
- The number of people served.
- The date and amount of the expense.
Also, per the publication, if a charge is made for items other than food and beverages, the receipt must show that this is the case.
While a credit card slip by itself may not be considered an original itemized receipt, it will suffice if all of the above information is noted on the slip, including number of people served. In the case of hotel bills, the folio account from the hotel is necessary. For business entertainment, you must indicate on the form the names and affiliation of those entertained, the business purpose of the entertainment, and the nature of the discussion that took place.
After travel, students should schedule a meeting with the Senior Office Assistant for Student Life, to review travel expenses and complete the voucher.