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Meal and Incidental Travel Expenses

Generally, meals and certain incidental travel expenses are reimbursable on a per diem basis (not actual expenses) for overnight official business travel outside the traveler’s official station.

 The College  will reimburse meal expenses based on a fixed allowance. State Travel Regulations refer to the fixed allowance as the Meals and Incidental Expense (M&IE) Per Diem. The following subsections provide requirements for meal expense reimbursements.

Contents

M&IE Per Diem Allowance
M& IE Rate Table
Prorations and Reductions
Meals Included in Registration
M&IE Rate Documentation Process
Meal Reimbursement for Overtime and Official Business Meals
         • Overtime Meals
         • Official Business Meals
         • Official Meals Documentation Process
         • Other Business Related Food and Beverage Procedures
IRS Reporting Requirements
Per Diem Rates for Foreign Destinations

M&IE Per Diem Allowance

Standard meal and incidental reimbursement guidelines (including all related taxes and tips) are provided in the Lodging / M&IE Guideline Tables. Regardless of destination, a flat $5 per diem amount is paid for each day of overnight travel for incidental expenses such as bellhop/waiter tips, valet, personal telephone calls, laundry, and transportation between lodging or business and places where meals may be taken. The Incidentals amount is not prorated on a travel departure or return date. The flat $5 per diem is paid on all travel days.

The M&IE per diem shall be paid directly to the traveler even where it can be shown that one traveler incurred the expenses on behalf of another. The applicable M&IE per diem, or fraction thereof, is payable to the traveler without itemization of expense or receipts. Reimbursement for actual expense incurred during overnight travel for these expense categories is not permitted. Agencies may be more restrictive and pay the actual expenses up to the appropriate M&IE in place of maximum per diem.

M&IE Rate Table

The M&IE Rate Table below provides individual meal reimbursement amounts, which are breakdowns of the M&IE per diem rates shown in the Lodging/M&IE Guideline tables. These rates should be used to determine the maximum meal reimbursement amounts for official business meals and/or the M&IE reduction. The M&IE must be reduced for the applicable meal when meals are provided at no cost during an overnight travel period. Refer to the Pro-rations and Reductions section for additional guidance. The M&IE Rate table below reflects rounded amounts for the 75% travel days. This is intentional and intended to be more convenient for the agency and the traveler. This M&IE Rate table should be used unless a traveler needs to make an adjustment for provided meals. In the instance that an adjustment is needed, rounding is optional.

Total

$ 41

 $ 46

 $ 51

 $ 56

 $ 61

 $ 66

 $ 71

Breakfast

 $ 7

 $ 7

 $  8

 $ 9

 $ 10

 $ 11

 $ 12

Lunch

 $ 11

 $ 11

 $ 12

 $ 13

 $ 15

 $ 16

 $ 18

Dinner

 $18

 $ 23

 $ 26

 $ 29

 $ 31

 $ 34

 $ 36

Incidentals

 $ 5

 $ 5

 $ 5

 $ 5

 $ 5

 $ 5

 $ 5

75% Travel Days

 $ 32

 $ 36

 $ 40

 $ 44

 $ 47

 $ 51

 $ 55

 

The following reimbursement policies apply.

  • The M&IE per diem must correspond to the location specified for the overnight lodging.
  • Direct agency billing of meal expenses incurred during overnight travel, including charging meals to direct-billed hotel rooms, is not permitted.

Proration and Reductions

On a travel departure or return day, 75% of the Meals per diem is reimbursed. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $46 total reimbursement, $36.00 [($46 - $5 = $41 x .75) = $30.75 + $5 = $35.75 which is rounded up to $36] would be allowable on a travel departure or return day. For trips involving multiple travel destinations, base the reduction on the per diem in effect for where the night was spent as follows:

  • Departure Day: where you spend the night.
  • Return Day: where you spent the night before returning to home base.

When meals are provided at no cost in conjunction with travel events, the applicable M&IE per diem reimbursement rate shall be reduced by the amount shown for the applicable meal in the M&IE Rate Table, excluding the incidental allowances. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $46 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $35 ($46 - $11 lunch).

However, when meals are provided at no cost in conjunction with travel events on a travel departure or return day, the full Meals per diem reimbursement rate is reduced by the full amount of the appropriate meals followed by a 75% prorating of the balance. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $46 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost on a travel departure or return day, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $28 (rounded) [($46 - $11 lunch = $35 - $5 = $30) x .75 = $22.50 ) + $5 = $27.50].

Meals Included in Registration

When meals are included with registration or lodging expense as part of a package, the number and type of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) must be recorded on the travel voucher. If a continental breakfast or reception is offered as part of the travel event and the food/timing is sufficient to serve as a meal, the traveler must reduce the per diem by the appropriate allowance amount. If a meal is offered as part of a conference and the traveler has medical restrictions, the traveler should make every effort to have the conference facilitate his/her needs by the deadline specified by the conference. If the conference does not honor the request, the traveler is not required to deduct the applicable meal allowance from the per diem. However, the traveler must include a note or other documentation with the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher documenting this information.

M&IE Rate Documentation Process

The lodging and per diem amounts must follow the limits described in the CAPP Topic 20335, State Travel Regulations.  The listing is limited to major cities and counties.  It takes additional research to determine if a city is part of a particular county and which lodging and per diem rate applies.  Please use the following website to determine lodging location: http://www.naco.org/Pages/default.aspx prior to preparing your per diem calculator (it is a helpful tool that calculates per diem). 

Once you click on the National Association of Counties (NACO) link, it will take you to a homepage with multiple links.  Follow the steps below:

  • Click “Find a County” then select “City-County Search”
  • Enter the zip code or the city of the hotel location

Now that you found the lodging location, you are ready to prepare your per diem calculator.  Please use the following website to determine per diem and lodging rate:  http://www.vccs.edu/services/perdiem/.  It will take you the Commonwealth of Virginia Per Diem Calculator homepage. 

  • Enter the number of days you plan to travel
  • Click on the drop down button to choose the lodging location

If the location is not listed, select the standard In-State for traveling within the State of Virginia.  Select the Standard Out-of-State if the location is not listed for traveling outside the State of Virginia.  Travelers must reduce the applicable meal when meals are provided at no cost during an overnight travel period.  For instance, if lunch will be provided, click the box next to “lunch” to reduce the per diem amount for lunch.  Notice “Day Total” has been reduced.  If no meal will be provided, you do not reduce the amount on the per diem calculator. 

Print the per diem calculator, and attach to your travel authorization form or your travel expense reimbursement voucher.

Meal Reimbursement for Overtime and Official Business Meals

Generally, meal expenses that do not involve an overnight stay are not reimbursable. The College may allow reimbursement if documentation supporting the reimbursement clearly establishes that the individual takes the meal during overtime work periods or for official business reasons. To be eligible for reimbursement, the College must consider such meals essential to its mission, and a business necessity.

Overtime Meals

An overtime meal allowance is a fixed dollar amount allowed while working or traveling in an overtime status. Overtime status is when work or travel time occurs beyond an employee's normal, scheduled work hours, but not overnight. Therefore, overtime meal allowance does not apply during overnight travel status. In the case of overnight travel, per diem rates apply.

An overtime meal allowance is allowed when overtime worked is essential to the agency's mission and is in excess of the employee's normal, scheduled work hours. Documentation supporting the reimbursement of an overtime meal must clearly establish adherence to the above requirements by providing sufficient reason for the overtime. NOTE: Scheduled work hours and overtime hours worked for overtime meals must be included on the voucher.

Overtime Meal Allowance policy described in the following table must be followed.

IF...

Are worked or traveled AND the overtime occurs...

THEN an overtime meal allowance is...

Documentation Required - Hours must be noted on reimbursement voucher

2 or more overtime hours During Normal workday $5.00 ($7.50 if outside the official station) Normal Workday hours and Overtime Start/End Times
5 or more overtime hours On a Saturday, Sunday, holiday or an alternate work schedule day off* $5.00 ($7.50 if outside the official station) Overtime Start and End Time
10 or more overtime hours On a Saturday, Sunday, holiday or an alternate work schedule day off* $10.00 ($15.00 if outside the official station) Overtime Start and End


Note: Or if comparable overtime is necessitated by shift schedule or beyond a routine, scheduled 40-hour work period.

Agencies are required to comply with IRS regulations regarding reportable meals. An overtime meal allowance based on the number of hours worked is considered taxable wages and must be coded to expenditure account 712870.

Official Business Meals

Meals while on official business must involve a substantive and bona fide business discussion. The employee must complete a Non-Travel Business Meal form and submit it with the reimbursement request.

Identification of all persons involved must be listed on the Business Meal form.  The College will reimburse official business meals based on actual costs incurred up to the amount shown for the applicable meal in the M&IE Rate Table. An original, itemized receipt is required for reimbursement of all business meals. The M&IE rate used will correspond to the location in which the individual purchases the official business meal.

Appropriate Expenses

The following are expenditure types that are considered appropriate for business meal expenses:

  • Supplies, Food & Drink -- Usually purchased from a grocery store. Food is unprepared (e.g. raw fruit or veggies).
  • Services, Catering -- Expenses for catered certified business meals. Requires forethought and a planned menu.
  • Meals, Business (Non-Travel) -- Expenses for non-catered certified business meals only, such as restaurant meals. Not for catered, day-trip, or travel meals.
    Restrictions

    There are additional restrictions on the types of meal expenses that can be paid from State funds:

    • Alcohol -- Any expenses for alcohol during a business meal will NOT be paid from State funds.
    • Spouses -- Spouses of business meal participants may attend a business meal, but their portion of the expense will NOT be paid from State funds.
    Official Meals Documentation Process

    Departments must use the College Non-Travel Meal Form for all the business meal expenses incurred during non-travel status. The forms, and instructions for their proper completion, can be found in the Travel Forms Library.  A properly completed form must be submitted with all required approval signatures.   The following must be disclosed or attached to the form before sending it to Accounts Payable for Payment.

    • Agency Head or designee approval.
    • Include the original, itemized receipt.
    • Describe the substantive and bona fide business purpose
    • List by name all persons involved in the meal (up to 10 persons) and the reason for the meal. If the reimbursement is for a group of conference participants, identify the number of people fed and an explanation of additional meals, if necessary (e.g., coverage of walk-ins). 
    • Be reimbursed for actual expenses up to the amount shown for the applicable meal in the M&IE Rate Table, excluding the incidental allowance.
    • Calculate average amount spent per attendee.
    • Delivery costs and a reasonable tip (up to 20%) are reimbursable as long as the total cost does not exceed the allowable per diem for the meal.
    • If requesting business meal exception, describe the justification for meals over the State Limit must be included.
    • One meal per form.
    Other Business Related Food and Beverage Procedures

    The procedures provided herein apply to all College departments, faculty, staff, students and all organizations and individuals that intend to provide food and/or beverages and any related services to CWM personnel (faculty and staff), students, or their guests at College expense.  There are limited circumstances in which it is considered appropriate to provide food and beverages to personnel who are not in travel status.

    These procedures were created to provide guidance when using State funds to purchase food and beverages for official College business. Purchases from any College account (including E & G, Auxiliary, Local, and Grant funds) are subject to these guidelines. Purchases for food and beverages include, but are not limited to, business meals, catered events, meal tickets, finger foods, party platters, and refreshment breaks.

    Appropriate Food and Beverages Functions

    The functions or events at which it is considered appropriate for food and beverages to be served to College personnel are limited to the following: 

    • Official Business Function: Food and beverages may be provided at business meetings that involve substantive and bona fide business discussions with an outside party or parties in attendance. The primary beneficiaries of such functions are the non-CWM employees. Meals at which interview candidates are hosted are included in this category. Additionally, there are campus-wide and/or departmental activities where it may be appropriate for food and beverages to be provided, such as annual school start-up planning meetings. 
    • Internal Training Function: Food and beverages may be provided to participants of a formal training session when business is conducted through the time of the meal and the training session lasts for a minimum of two hours. The determination of whether a departmental retreat is an appropriate internal training function at which food and beverages may be provided will require consideration of the factors surrounding the event. Departmental retreats must be conducted primarily as training functions, are at least two hours in length, and do not occur more frequently than once per semester. The type of training provided will depend on the particular department involved.  In order to limit expenditures for rental facilities, retreats should be held at properties owned or leased by CWM. Retreats held at off campus locations require advance written approval- Travel Authorization- by the approving authority (either the Senior Vice President, Associate/Assistant Vice President, Dean, or Associate/Assistant Dean). College employees are the primary beneficiaries at such events. 
    • Student Academic Function: Food and beverages may be provided at student functions that contribute to the academic mission of the College. Current and prospective students are the primary beneficiaries at such events. Food and beverages provided at commencement or annual award ceremonies are examples of this category.
    • Student Programming/Club Function: Food and beverages may be provided at student programming/club functions that contribute to student engagement and support the mission of the College. Current students are the primary beneficiaries of such events. Food and beverages provided at residence hall programs or club programming events sponsored by student activities fees are examples of this category. 
    Requirements and Limitations

    This procedure established the following requirements and limitations regarding appropriate expenditures for food and beverages: 

    1. Food and beverages may be provided only at functions or events that meet the criteria listed in the above section of this procedure. 
    2. For official business functions, the purpose/business reason must be included on the Non-Travel Business Meal form to verify the CWM employee is acting as an official representative of the College and would be exempt from tax reportable income for the cost of the meal. A listing of the names and organizational affiliations of each person in attendance at events at which food and beverages are provided must also be listed on the Non-Travel Business Meal form to support payment. If a listing is impractical to provide, a written explanation to that effect must be submitted instead. 
    3. Food and beverages may be provided at official business meetings held during normal work hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Breakfast and dinner meals are generally not considered to be part of an employee's normal workday. A detailed justification is required for meals outside of normal business hours. 
    4. Refreshments may be provided at official business functions. Food and beverages should not be provided at regularly scheduled or routine meetings (examples include: staff, division, or department meetings). 
    5. The actual cost per person for food and beverages, including any related service fees or gratuities, may not exceed the per diem amount allowed for business meals as established under State Travel Regulations. With sufficient justification and the approving authority (VP/AVP; Dean, Asst/Assoc Dean; or Director) meal expenditures may be authorized up to 150% of the applicable per diem meal rate. 
    6. Internal training retreats where food and beverages are served should include a description of the type of training provided as documentation to support the expenditures. 
    7. Alcoholic beverages may not be provided at College expense. 
    Catering and Dining Services

    The College has a contract with Aramark to provide catering and dining services.   

    Local Vendors

    For payment processing to the vendor when purchasing food and/or beverages, a Vendor Payment Form must be completed for each event along with the original itemized receipt to the Accounts Payable office for payment processing.

    If the Small Purchase Charge Card (SPCC) is used to purchase food from a local vendor; additional information must be provided with the SPCC reconciliation to Accounts Payable.   

    IRS Reporting Requirements

    The IRS does not consider meal reimbursements made according to these regulations to be reportable income, except meal/tip expenditures of $75 or more that do not relate to overnight travel. This is limited to business meal situations where one individual purchases and claims reimbursement for the meals of another person on official business. A receipt is required for meal expenses of $75 or over. The disbursing agency must determine IRS income reporting requirements for meals reimbursed under the sponsored program exception based on the circumstances of each case.

    Per Diem Rates for Foreign Destinations

    The Commonwealth of Virginia uses the lodging and M&IE per diem rates for foreign travel as defined by the Federal Government. The Secretary of State establishes these maximum rates of per diem allowances for travel in foreign areas.  Rates for cities and countries outside the 48 contiguous states can be found at http://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp  by choosing the appropriate year in the left-hand column and then the current updated Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowance for Foreign Areas.

    • Select Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location, then use dropdown box to select a country.
    • If a specific city is not listed, use the "Other" rate shown for that country.
    • The M&IE portion of the maximum per diem rate covers the cost of meals as well as incidental expenses.
    • If a specific city is not listed, use the “Other” rate shown for that country. The M&IE portion of the maximum per diem rate covers the cost of meals as well as incidental expenses. Printouts of appropriate rates for the time of travel must be attached to the travel voucher for reimbursement.

    For currency conversions you may use the following site, http://www.oanda.com/converter/classic. Currency conversions must be calculated using the rate applicable to the date of the receipt. Receipts must be converted to U.S. dollars.

    Printouts of appropriate rates for the time of travel must be attached to the travel voucher for reimbursement.

    Reimbursement for out–of–country travel will be at the rate established in the current Appropriation Act.