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Travel: Research Foundation Guidelines

The travel regulations are complex. If there is a need to obtain additional information or clarifications of items in this document, please contact the Accounts Payable Office (257-3175).

POLICY PRECEDENCE

In general, the RF Travel Guide takes precedence over a sponsor's regulations.

Exceptions:

  • The sponsor's travel policy takes precedence over the RF travel policy if the sponsor's regulations are more restrictive than the RF's policy
  • or the sponsor has set forth explicit, less restrictive requirements in the RF-approved award document.
  • Note: A sponsor's travel policy, if used, may require greater substantiation of travel expenditures than the RF requires, or it may require the use of specific rates in paying travel expenses. These rates may be higher or lower than the RF rates.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Those responsible for RF Travel are:

Operations Manager
The operations manager is responsible for ensuring that travel is administered according to the RF travel policy authorizing reimbursement of expenses higher than the maximum amount or allowance (see Federal Per Diem Rates and Travel Within New York State ) when the additional expense is in the best interest of the sponsored project or administrative function of the traveler and is in compliance with any applicable sponsor regulations.

The operations manager has the authority to approve individually necessary exceptions to the RF Travel Guide. Neither this Travel Guide nor its exceptions prevent operating locations from establishing more restrictive travel policies for their own use.

Project Director
Project directors are responsible for certifying that all travel undertaken in connection with sponsored projects or administrative functions are made for the express purpose of carrying out project objectives or RF business.

Travelers
RF travelers are responsible for the appropriate use of, and accurate accounting for, travel funds provided to them and for compliance with sponsor and RF travel requirements.

TERMINOLOGY

Full Meal Per Diem
To be entitled to a full meal allowance, a traveler must be in overnight travel status and eligible for one breakfast and one dinner.

Incidental Expenses
Incidentals are minor expenses such as tips to maids and bellhops. Incidental expenses are part of the per diem meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) rates, which are governed by the General Services Administration (GSA).

Meal Allowance
One meal allowance is a combination of one breakfast and one dinner (or vice versa).

Official Station
The official station of an employee is the address of the office to which the employee is assigned. Such designation should be in the best interest of the RF or project and not for the convenience of the RF employee.

Overnight Status
An employee is in overnight travel status only on those days when the employee stays overnight at the travel destination and does not return home or to his or her official station.

Per Diem
A per diem is an allowance that can include a breakfast, a dinner, overnight lodging and incidental expenses.

Travel Status
An employee is in travel status when engaged in official RF business at a distance greater than 35 miles from both his or her designated official station and place of residence. Employees must be in travel status to be eligible for meals and lodging.

NYS Tax Exempt Status

RF expenses related to New York State (NYS), including New York City (NYC), travel are exempt from state and local sales and use tax. When traveling within NYS, travelers should use the Exempt Organization Certification - located in Accounts Payable office or Purchasing Department.

TYPES OF TRAVEL PAYMENTS

The Research Foundation must be the direct purchaser and payer of record. RF exemption from NYS and local sales and use tax does not extend to personal purchases. Payments must be made from the funds of the RF.

TRAVEL ADVANCES
Eligible employees can receive a travel advance to offset out-of-pocket costs associated with their travel.
A cash advance may be provided to employees who are in travel status for at least one day. The advance will be 80% of the total travel requisition.
Travel Advances can be issued:
  • only in conjunction with approved trips.
  • only to RF employees (not students or employment candidates) who are in travel status for at least one day that includes an overnight lodging.
Travel advances cannot exceed the approved per diem rate and cannot be issued for registration fees.
Advance checks may be picked up in the Accounts Payable Office generally one or two days prior to the date of the trip. The traveler's office will be notified when the advance check is ready.
Documentation Required
Repayment of the Travel Advance
When the amount to be reimbursed to the traveler on the Travel Payment Request is less than the amount of the advance, the traveler must submit with the Travel Payment Request a check for the difference, payable to "Research Foundation.".
In these cases, the traveler is responsible for immediate repayment of the excess advance and should process the Travel Payment Request within ten days after returning from the trip.
If the advance repayment check is returned by the bank because of insufficient funds, a $20 returned check fee is imposed. The traveler will be required to submit payment in the form of cash, money order or certified check for the amount of the original check plus the $20 returned check fee. Personal checks will NOT be accepted as a form of payment for a returned check.

LODGING AND MEAL EXPENSES

In order to be reimbursed for both meals and lodging, a traveler must be in official travel status, - a distance greater than 35 miles - from both the traveler's official station and place of residence. Travelers may be reimbursed for lodging and meals on weekends and holidays while in travel status.

Documentation Requirements
Travel Payment Request Form along with
  • Program itinerary/brochure
  • Original Receipts - must show method of payment
    • registration receipts
    • paid hotel bill with room breakdowns
    • airline tickets/receipts
    • bus and train receipts
    • any type of photocopying, telephone receipts, parking receipts
    • meals do not require receipts and will be reimbursed based on the approved per diem rates
Meal Eligibility
Charges for meals will be allowed when the time of departure from home or office at the beginning of a trip necessarily occurs before the hour of 7:00am and concludes after the hour of 7:00pm.
Methods of Reimbursement
Method I, unreceipted lodging
a per diem allowance, reimbursing lodging, meals, and incidental expenses without use of receipts
An employee in overnight travel status without lodging receipts will be allowed the following reimbursements.
LocationPer Diem
New York City and Nassau, Suffolk Rockland and Westchester Counties$50.00
Cities of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and their respective surrounding Metrolpolitan areas.$40.00
All other locations in New York State$35.00
Out of country and out of State (this includes any out of state tax on lodging)$50.00
Method II, receipted lodging
a per diem allowance, requiring receipts for lodging reimbursements. Travelers should choose one of these two methods. The per diems include expenses such as tips to bellmen, hotel maids, etc.
Non-overnight Travel Status
Employees on business trips lasting one day or less may be eligible for reimbursement of breakfast ($5.00) and dinner ($12.00). However, the Internal Revenue Service requires that meal reimbursements associated with travel not requiring the employee to stay overnight, constitutes taxable income to the employee. Thus, these reimbursements are reported in the employee's gross income and are subject to withholding taxes.
Taxable Meal Payment Request and Authorization Form
Must be used for non-overnight travel when claiming a meal allowance payment or reimbursement . However, the Internal Revenue Service requires that meal reimbursements associated with travel not requiring the employee to stay overnight, constitutes taxable income to the employee. Thus these reimbursements are reported in the employee's gross income and are subject to withholding taxes.

TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES

POLICY
Travelers are expected to travel by the method most conducive to achieving the objectives of the trip while balancing cost, time, and safety. Added costs incurred for the convenience of the traveler, such as travel by circuitous routes or travel schedules that require nonessential sleeping accommodations, must be approved by the operations manager.

METHODS OF TRAVEL

Personal Automobile
Personally owned automobiles may be used for Research Foundation business. It is the responsibility of the operations manager to ensure that additional expense is not incurred by using personally owned automobiles when other transportation methods (e.g., train, plane, rental car, etc.) are appropriate and available.

Reimbursable Expenses
  • reasonable and accurately recorded personal car mileage used for local travel and out-of-town travel is reimbursable at the allowable mileage rate established by the Internal Revenue Service. The mileage reimbursement covers, but is not limited to, gas, oil, depreciation, insurance costs of operating a vehicle, and repairs for any damages to the automobile.
  • tolls and parking are reimbursable for both local and out-of-town travel.
Nonreimbursable Costs
  • mileage from the traveler's home to an official work station is not reimbursable.
  • unnecessary Additional Costs. If the operations manager determines that the use of a personal automobile is for the convenience of the traveler and that unnecessary additional costs were incurred, the maximum reimbursement will be the cost of coach or tourist common carrier (train, plane, bus, etc.) plus associated transportation costs to and from terminals, including mileage, tolls, and parking costs.
  • citations / violations . In accordance with RF policy, fines and related towing charges for traffic violations, illegal parking, or speeding

Rental Vehicles
Rental vehicles may be used when it is in the best interest of the project or the Research Foundation. Vehicles should be rented in the name of the Research Foundation. This ensures that both the Foundation and the traveler are properly covered and eliminates any confusion regarding liability for coverage in the event of a claim.

Renting a vehicle would be considered appropriate when it:

  • is the least costly alternative.
  • is the only method of transportation available.
  • will eliminate substantial delays.

Reimbursable Expenses

  • cost of renting a vehicle
  • tolls
  • parking fees
  • fuel

Nonreimbursable Costs

  • personal Accident Insurance (PAI) or Personal Effects Insurance
  • citations / Violations and the related towing charges illegal parking, or speeding

Vehicle Reservations
To request a vehicle please call: Enterprise Rent-A-Car at 845-485-2222.

  • When you call for a vehicle please remember to mention customer number JN0196. This number will be recognized by the rental representative and will guarantee that you will receive SUNY New Paltz's special rates and services. When you call, please have your requisition or purchase order number available.
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car hours are Monday-Friday from 7:30am to 6:00pm and Saturday from 9:00am to noon.
  • If you need a vehicle before Enterprise opens or after Enterprise closes, please make your local Enterprise representative aware, as Enterprise offers a free delivery service to the campus.
  • Enterprise will deliver cars at no charge to the campus. If more convenient, employees can go directly to the Enterprise Rent-a-car location at 724-726 Main Street in Poughkeepsie to pick up their vehicle, in this case, Enterprise Rent-a-Car would provide free parking for the renters' personal vehicle. Enterprise Rent-a-Car also offers a free pick-up service should you need a ride directly from your home.
  • Enterprise will be provided 3 to 4 parking spaces in a designated lot on the campus. These spaces will be clearly marked and Enterprise will meet renters there or at your department.
  • Always make a reservation in advance when possible and always call the branch when you are ready for a car.
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car will also honor discounted rates for personal use. Standard rental payment, procedures, and qualifications will apply.

Commercial Airplane
Travelers are expected to use the lowest-priced available, appropriate, coach-class airfare. First class or other premium airfare may be used when no reasonable alternative is available.

In compliance with the Fly America Act, all travel on federally funded projects must be on a U.S. flag air carrier. For more information, see the Fly America Act section.

Reimbursable Expenses

  • airplane tickets (including taxes)
  • tolls
  • parking
  • mileage related to airplane travel (e.g., travel to and from and parking at the airport)

Nonrefundable Airline Tickets should not be charged to a sponsored program account if a trip is cancelled. However, If in the future the project director wants to pay the airline transfer fee and use the ticket for another purpose benefiting the project, then the cost of the ticket plus the transfer fee can be charged to the sponsored project.

Taxi and Public Transportation
Travelers may want to use taxis or public transportation for:

  • travel between their residence or official station and the local transportation terminal
  • travel from one transportation terminal to another transportation terminal
  • between transportation terminal and lodging
  • between transportation terminal and destination
  • between lodging and destination)

Receipts for expenditures over $75.00 must be included with the Travel Payment Request.

Train/Bus
Travel by train or bus should be by coach if the one-way distance is 200 miles or less. Rail travel in excess of 200 miles one way may be first class. For first class, chair accommodations must be used during the day and roomette accommodations may be used for overnight travel. Roomettes are economy accommodations that include a bunk and a sink.

Reimbursable Expense

  • train or bus ticket
  • tolls
  • parking
  • mileage

Miscellaneous Expenses

All necessary local and long distance telephone calls and necessary faxes of documents are reimbursable when business need is appropriately documented. To minimize substantial additional charges added by hotels, it is recommended that the traveler

  • use a calling card, public phone, or credit card
  • avoid making phone calls that use the hotel's telephone switchboard service
  • question any extra hotel telecommunications charges, except for minimum surcharges

Documentation Requirements

Telephone

  • name of the party called
  • place
  • date of call
  • reason for call

Faxes

  • date
  • purpose
  • fax number to which the document was sent
  • recipient, and number of pages for each facsimile
  • If available, receipts should be attached