Meals and entertainment expenses are allowable expenditures if they are reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the business or functions of the university and consistent with Colgate’s not-for-profit status. Departments may choose to be more restrictive than this policy due to budget constraints or other reasons; however, the maximum amounts set forth in this policy may not be exceeded unless there is an extraordinary circumstance.
While it is not encouraged, a limited amount of alcohol in connection with a traveler’s meal is reimbursable. Please note, however, that reimbursement for alcohol purchases is prohibited under government grants.
Employees have the option of choosing one of two options: (a) the per diem allowance; or (b) actual expenditure reimbursement. The per diem allowance is a daily rate that may be selected in lieu of submitting receipts. The actual expenses method requires the submission of receipts to support expenses claimed.
Per Diem Allowance
Domestic Travel: An employee traveler may be reimbursed for meals and incidentals as indicated below:
|Per-Day Reimbursement || |
|Breakfast ||$7 ||$12 ||$11 |
|Lunch ||$11 ||$18 || $17 || $24 || $11 |
|Dinner ||$18 ||$31 |
| $29 || $42 || $18 |
|Incidentals ||$3 ||$3 || $3 || $3 || $3 |
|Maximum total |
| $39 || $64 || $60 || $85 || $39 |
* The university has determined the following to be "high cost cities" for Colgate employees: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Meal reimbursement for all other cities
will be made at the standard per diem rate or based on actual expenditures with original receipts. NOTE
: The per diem rate must be reduced when a colleague, vendor, alumnus, or other third-party vendor pays for a meal. An example of a per diem rate adjustment is as follows:
- When the conference attended provides some meals as part of the conference registration fee. For example: A traveler attends a 3-day conference. The conference provides breakfast for all attendees of the conference at no charge to participants. Since the cost of breakfast is part of the conference registration fee, the traveler is not entitled to reimbursement for breakfast during the days it is provided. If the full day rate is $39, the partial per diem allowed for the days the conference serves breakfast is $32 ($39 less $7).
Due to fluctuations in exchange rates, foreign travel reimbursement will be made based on (a) the standard
per diem allowance above; or (b) actual expenditure reimbursement with submission of receipts using the exchange rate on the date of the expense. A useful website is Oanda, http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter
The employee traveler may be reimbursed for the actual cost of meals and gratuities. Standard practice allows for tipping ranges from 15% to 20% of the bill. Tips for meals in excess of 20% of meal cost will not be reimbursed.
- Original receipts are required for all meal expenses, regardless of amount, if this option is chosen. If a group of colleagues splits a bill and original receipts are not readily available, the traveler should document the cost of their individual portion of the bill as well as the circumstances.
- Costs incurred for meals must be reasonable. Meals may not be either lavish or extravagant. For high-cost cities, the maximum that can be claimed per person in any single day is $85.00. For all other cities, the maximum is $60.00.
Non-travel business-related meals
- Meals with a clearly substantiated business purpose: In cases where university employees meet over a meal when not traveling, the cost of the meal is considered a non-reimbursable personal expense unless: 1) the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct business, and 2) there is a clear and compelling reason to meet over a meal. Generally, these conditions are met when it is not possible for employees to meet during other working hours, and the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda.
- Non-travel–related meals eaten alone do not qualify for reimbursement.
- Infrequent, occasional meals provided to a group of employees, such as a holiday party should generally serve the purpose of promoting goodwill, employee relations, morale, or to celebrate retirements, or major (e.g., 25 year) anniversaries of employment with the university. They must be reasonable and should not be extravagant. Meals which may be classified as personal events such as birthdays, weddings, showers, etc. are not allowable expenditures.
- Meals that do not fall into one of the classifications outlined above will be considered taxable wages with the appropriate federal, state and FICA taxes deducted from the employees wage payment.
- Required documentation for business-related meals includes the date, time, location, nature of the gathering, and names and titles of those in attendance. In cases where there are more than six people in attendance, the name of the committee or organization and the number of participants is sufficient. Original receipts must accompany the request for reimbursement of actual meal costs.
- Meal costs must be approved by the employee’s department head/supervisor whether submitted through the travel summary form or as part of the Colgate Chase card monthly statement of activity.
Individuals conducting fund raising are limited to a maximum of $100.00 per day for each person entertained. Entertainment expenses greater than $100.00 per day/per person must be approved by the vice president for finance & administration or the president of the university.
Personal entertainment expense (other than meals) is not normally reimbursable. If an employee is entertaining university guests for business purposes, names of those being entertained should be provided along with the purpose of the entertainment. Failure to provide that information may result in the IRS treating the reimbursement as taxable income to the employee.
- Companions: Expenses for a companion are not reimbursable unless the companion’s attendance is necessary for business purposes.
- Telephone: For those employees not eligible for a university cell phone stipend, business calls made while away from the office will be reimbursed. Calls home will be reimbursed at the rate of one call per day (of reasonable length). Direct long distance calls from a hotel room can be expensive and should be avoided.
- Miscellaneous: Any necessary expense over $10, not previously described must be receipted and described.
- Non-reimbursable Expenses: The following will not be reimbursed by the university:
- Fines for parking or moving violations
- Movies or other personal entertainment for stays of four consecutive nights or less.
- Laundry services (for stays of four consecutive nights or less)
- Lost or stolen personal property (including cash)
- Costs incurred at home, such as childcare
- Life, flight, or baggage insurance
- Companion expenses