Updated Travel Reimbursement Deadline Policy
Please Note: The original notice for this policy update contained an error which was corrected in a subsequent notice, and in the following article.
Travel Management Services (TMS) has been carefully monitoring the impact of the Travel Reimbursement Deadline Policy since it was enacted in September of 2010. After a series of discussions with IU departments, affiliates, tax advisors and payroll; TMS requested a policy change to improve the experience of IU travelers. The change was approved on April 20, 2011.
The principle aspects of the policy remain in effect, pursuant to IRS Safe Harbor Guidelines. Travelers must still submit all reimbursement claims, including associated receipts, within 60 days of the trip’s return date.
The Travel Reimbursement Deadline policy has been revised to remove the sanction of late reimbursements being paid as taxable supplemental pay through the payroll system. This revision assures compliance of travel reimbursement requirements on federal grant funds. Reimbursements are required to be submitted within 60 days. After the 60 day period, written justification regarding the late submission must be provided with receipts for review. A lack of justification for the late submission will lead to the reimbursement being treated as taxable wages paid as a travel expense and added to the payroll system. As in the original version of this policy, no reimbursement will be provided after 120 days from the return date of the trip.
The updated policy is effective on its approval date of April 20, 2011 and will not be retroactive for previous reimbursements. University funds are governed by the approved policies in place at the time of their use. We sincerely hope that the changes to this policy will help to avoid any further frustrations in the future.
Thank you for your attention, and please contact Travel Management Services at 812-855-2873 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
Kuali Financial System and IU Travel
Travel Management Services would like to express our sincere appreciation to the IU community for your continued support in our transition from paper to electronic travel forms. The implementation of Travel@IU last autumn marked an important first step in modernizing the travel process. The Kuali Financial System (KFS), slated for release in December of 2012, will be the next leap forward in this progress.
KFS is a comprehensive suite of functionality that will serve all of IU’s financial business needs, including a travel module to meet the needs currently served by Travel@IU. We are excited about the capabilities of the new platform, and encouraged by the unique opportunities that a system transition presents. While we regret that many enhancements cannot be made to the current travel system, we are working to build the suggestions of IU travelers, arrangers, and fiscal officers into the framework of the KFS travel module. The benefit of these practical insights, in addition to our own experience from the previous implementation, will result in a better system for us all.
Look to future news articles and additional training for continuous updates during the development and implementation of this exciting new system. Once again, we thank you for your cooperation, and look forward to working with you in making KFS a success.
End of Fiscal Year Activities
As June 30th approaches, Travel Management Services (TMS) wishes to remind all travelers, arrangers and fiscal officers of the following key dates:
- Request to Disencumber Funds for Cancelled Trips before June 20
When an authorization is created in Travel@IU, its estimated expenses encumber against the specified account(s). If an authorized trip for FY11 was never taken, the trip must be cancelled to free up the encumbered amount. Submit cancelation requests to email@example.com by June 20, 2011 to ensure processing by the end of this fiscal year.
- Approve this Year’s Trips before June 30
In order for trip expenses to charge against this year’s budget, prepayment and reimbursement requests must be initiated and approved before June 30th. Approvers; be sure to check your Action List regularly as this date approaches.
- Prepayment Requests Processed Prior to July 1 will be Paid from this Year’s Budget
Trips typically encumber against the fiscal year in which they are scheduled to occur. However, if a prepayment request (for a conference registration fee for example) is received and approved prior to July 1, the amount of that prepayment will be charged to this fiscal year’s budget.
While university policy allows travelers to book reimbursable travel through any provider, IU's partnered travel vendors provide two unique benefits to our travelers: direct prepayment options and special negotiated discounts. You may want to consider the advantages of each when planning your next trip.
These vendors offer convenience and security by billing travel reservations directly to IU accounts, avoiding any need for personal funds. The links below provide a description of each service, along with detailed instructions for beginners:
NOTE: All prepayment vendors require a Trip ID and Account # to complete a reservation, so be sure to create the trip in Travel@IU as soon as possible. The Trip ID appears on the traveler’s Travel Activity page when the trip is authorized.
IU travelers also have access to negotiated discounts for a range of travel options, including local hotels, rental car providers, and airport parking. These vendors typically require the traveler to pay personally and seek reimbursement upon return, but the discounts are often available to IU staff and faculty for personal travel as well as business.
Full details on all available discounts are provided on the Discounts page of the TMS website.
Travel Management Services Business Review
In February of 2011, Travel Management Services began working with stakeholders from across the university community in an intensive effort to evaluate and improve all aspects of IU travel. Sub-committees were formed to examine current issues, establish industry benchmarks and identify opportunities for improvement.
In the coming months we will release a series of articles explaining the impact of this process in several key travel areas, as summarized by the following highlights.
- Travel Safety Site – We are currently compiling safety information and procedures from a range of internal IU organizations, and will be launching a consolidated ‘one-stop’ safety site in the near future.
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Send your travel safety questions to this newly created email address to receive destination specific answers from the IU Public Safety and Institutional Assurance team.
- Better communication – We are developing a more comprehensive and user-friendly travel manual, and will be updating the TMS website to ensure guidelines are current and easy to find. We will also be issuing regular Newsletters, including a new Travel Tip Hotlist feature.
- New Tools and Resources – We will continue monitoring advancements in travel technology to ensure IU access to the most helpful travel tools, like the new Orbitz for Business Mobile site.
- Kuali Travel Improvements – While programming resources limit the amount of changes that can be made to the Travel@IU system, the December 2012 transition to Kuali Travel will provide an opportunity for system enhancement. We have requested some important new features to address user suggestions, including a dedicated ‘Note’ field for tracking comments on each trip.
- Expanded Training – While Travel@IU will remain fairly static until the arrival of Kuali, we intend to address usability concerns by expanding our training effort. We will continue to offer regularly scheduled training classes, and are developing a new and improved user guide to compliment our series of online video tutorials.
Travel Policies & Procedures
- Potential Policy Changes – We are currently evaluating the institutional impact of several requested policy and guideline alterations. We will keep you informed on any future changes.
- Policy & Guideline Clarification – We are reformatting all of our policies and guidelines for improved clarity and access. Improvements will appear on the TMS website in the near future.
- Updates to the 60/120 day reimbursement policy have already been implemented.
The Travel Survey
On March 30th 2011, Travel Management Services distributed a university-wide survey to ensure all perspectives are included in our ongoing business review. Responses poured in from all IU campuses, including more than 1,300 travelers, arrangers, fiscal officers and affiliates.
We were pleased to receive a majority of positive comments, with over 75% of users feeling that TMS staff provide timely, knowledgeable assistance. Many users also expressed support for last year’s transition from paper travel forms to an online processing system. However, a passionate minority voiced concerns over the usability of the new system and the efficiency of travel processing procedures, and many users offered compelling suggestions for improvement. The most frequent suggestions are summarized below.
We deeply appreciate all of your time and effort in completing this survey. Your candid feedback has already fostered several positive changes, and will yield many more in the coming months. Thank You!
Request Number 5: Accept Electronic Receipt Submission
Many users asked to complete last year’s transition to electronic processing by accepting electronic submission of supporting documentation. While original receipts are still required via standard mail or office drop-off, we are looking into several potential methods for achieving this objective in the future.
Request Number 4: Re-evaluate 60/120 Day Policy
The 60/120 day reimbursement deadlines must remain in effect to satisfy IRS law, but we have updated this policy to address persistent system and procedural concerns.
Request Number 3: Grant Per Diem without a Hotels.com
Travel@IU cannot import hotel addresses directly from Hotels.com reservation data, and city verification is required for Per Diem. For trips made using Hotels.com, the submission of a printed confirmation page remains necessary for satisfying this requirement. We have requested an improvement to Kuali Travel that may help to eliminate this need in the future.
Request Number 2: Help me get my trips Approved
25% of travelers have had a trip rejected in the past, and roughly half of those users show some lingering uncertainty over the cause. To alleviate this frustration, we are striving to make the university more aware of key travel policies and procedures. We have added informative links to the Travel@IU portal and have launched a series of user guide and website revisions, including our recently published Guide to correcting and avoiding disapprovals in Travel@IU (PDF).
We are also seeking opportunities to streamline our systems and procedures to offer a more flexible processing experience. Ultimately, we encourage you to contact Travel Management Services whenever you have questions.
Request Number 1: Offer More Prepayment Options
The vast majority of travelers who have used IU’s prepayment vendors offered praise for their service, value, and convenience. In fact, the IU community voiced a persistent request to further expand the range of vendors and features available for this popular service. We are evaluating all of our contracts in response, and will look to streamline and expand IU’s prepayment options as we transition to Kuali Travel in 2012.
Orbitz for Business Announces Three New Features
Orbitz for Business, IU’s partnered provider for online air reservations, has recently announced three new features for the convenience of IU travelers.
Orbitz for Business Mobile
Orbitz has gone mobile! The new mobile site, m.orbitzforbusiness.net, provides all of your favorite Orbitz features in a format optimized for the smaller screens of most smart phones. There are no additional charges beyond the standard travel reservation fees, and all IU terms and any applicable discounts are automatically reflected in the mobile search results. Full instructions are provided in the OFB Mobile Announcement Guide (PDF).
In addition to their telephone customer service number, Orbitz for Business now provides a chat help feature accessed directly from their site. A Chat Service button is provided predominantly on each page, and users may be prompted with a chat dialog box when their browsing patterns suggest they require assistance. Please be aware that agent assist fees will be charged to the trip account for any assistance received via the chat tool.
In the coming months, IU travelers will be able to begin making rail reservations through Orbitz for Business. These reservations will need to be paid with personal funds and reimbursed through Travel@IU, but this enhancement allows for air fare and rail fare to be booked at and tracked from a single itinerary on a single site. Details will announced shortly.
The Travel Tip Hotlist #1 – Per Diem Requirements
Want to carpe per diem? Remember the following tips to make your next Per Diem request a success:
Proof of lodging is generally required for Per Diem. This can take one of several forms:
- If the traveler paid for the hotel with personal funds, submit the original hotel receipt.
- If the reservation was made using Hotel.com, submit a printed copy of the confirmation page.
- If lodging was paid by an outside source or provided for free by friends or family, indicate the dates, address, phone number, and responsible names in the Exception to Policy field. (Located below the Per Diem questions on the Travel@IU trip document
- If the traveler shared a room paid for by another IU traveler, submit a copy of the receipt and reference the other traveler’s name and trip number in the Exception to Policy field.
Proof of lodging must be submitted for each date Per Diem is claimed; unless the traveler is en- route. 24 hours of en-route travel is allowed at the beginning and end of each trip as needed.
Per Diem for one-day trips can only be granted when traveling longer than twelve hours. Be sure to indicate accurate start and end times for the trip.