Grants Management Travel
The expenditure of travel funds from grant and contract awards is governed by The Research Foundation of State University of New York Travel Policy. These policies are designed to insure compliance with sponsor guidelines and the fulfillment of The Research Foundation's (RF) obligation under its contract with SUNY, and apply to all travel by RF employees or SUNY employees who are to be paid from any award administered by RF.
Research Foundation Travel Recommendations:
- It is advisable to contact the Grants Management Office (GMO) before committing funds for travel purposes, (585) 245-5060. GMO will confirm that travel costs comply with specific sponsor regulations, and that the costs are in accordance with export control regulations and RF travel policies.
- Traveler must review travel per diem rates prior to making arrangements. This pertains to meals, lodging, and incidental expenses.
- The traveler must save and submit valid, travel receipts:
- lodging (hotel receipt with a zero balance and traveler’s name on the bill);
- boarding passes;
- other receipts (such as shuttles, taxi, parking, gas, tolls, luggage fees, etc.)
- Receipts to document any transportation expenditure over $25 are required. This limit is per transportation transaction.
- At the discretion of the GMO, reasonable expenses may be reimbursed without receipts (e.g., in situations when a receipt could not be obtained or a receipt was lost). In such cases the traveler must provide a signed, written explanation that includes the amount requested for reimbursement, type of expense, date, and reason why a receipt is not being presented.
- As a non-profit organization, the Research Foundation is exempt from New York State and local sales and use taxes on purchases and NYS lodging. Please contact the Grants Management Office for a copy of the RF's Exempt Organization Certification (ST-119.1). Contact telephone no: 585-245-5060.
- All travel will be reimbursed at the most cost effective means of transportation (example, renting a vehicle vs. personal vehicle costs).
Travelers may request an advance payment on airfare expenditures. Please submit request on a Travel Payment Request Form and attach a copy of the itinerary.
Official Travel Status
In order to be reimbursed for meals and lodging, a traveler must be in official travel status, i.e., at 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.
Non-Overnight Travel – Day Trips
For non-overnight travel, an employee may claim the unreceipted meal allowance, (the rate in effect is $5.00 for breakfast and $12.00 for dinner) or actual expenses up to the federal maximum meal allowances with a receipt. Under most circumstances, the Internal Revenue Service considers this reimbursement taxable income. When claiming a meal allowance payment or reimbursement for nonovernight travel, use the Taxable Meal Payment Request and Authorization Form.
Eligibility for an allowance or reimbursement for breakfast and/or dinner is determined by the time of departure from the traveler’s official station or home and the time of return to the traveler's official station or home, according to the following table:
|On the day of departure, the traveler is eligible for:||If travel begins before:|
|On the day of return, the traveler is eligible for:||If the trip ends after:|
When adjustments need to be made to the meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) portion of the per diem, these adjustments are made using the New York State Policy of 20% for breakfast and 80% for dinner.
Allowance and reimbursement rates are determined by the city to which the traveler travels in order to accomplish the purpose of the trip. One meal allowance is a combination of one breakfast and one dinner (or vice versa). No reimbursements are made for lunch.
Since meal eligibility is defined according to the times of departure and return, a traveler leaving for an overnight trip after 7:00 a.m. but before 6:00 p.m. and returning after 8:00 a.m. the next day will receive one full meal allowance consisting of one dinner and one breakfast. In this instance, if the traveler returns after 7:00 p.m., the traveler will be allowed one full meal allowance and reimbursement for dinner.
To be eligible for a full per diem, these two criteria must be met:
- the traveler must be eligible for both a breakfast and dinner to receive the full per diem, as described in the above Meal Eligibility section, and
- the traveler must be in overnight travel status with a receipted hotel lodging receipt.
A per diem is not allowed when overnight lodging is at an official residence of the traveler.
For non-receipted lodging, the traveler will receive $50/night. This is to cover meals and overnight stay.
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.
Telephone calls are appropriately documented by listing the name of the party called, place called, date of call and reason for call. Faxes are documented by listing the date, purpose, fax number to which the document was sent, recipient, and number of pages for each facsimile. If available, receipts should be attached.
Nontaxable or Taxable Income
Payments to reimburse an independent contractor for travel do not have to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the contractor provides adequate documentation of the expenses to GMO. Adequate documentation is a record describing each element of the expenditure (amount, date, place, business relation, and purpose) made at or near the time the expense was incurred; such record is to be supported by receipts; or a record that describes the date, place, and business purpose of the travel; such record is allowed when per diems are used for reimbursement.
- If travel expenses are not supported by adequate documentation, the total amount of the payment is considered nonemployee compensation and must be reported to the IRS and to the contractor on IRS Form 1099-MISC, "Statement for Recipients of Miscellaneous Income."
- All non-overnight meal payments are taxable, whether included in the contractor's fee or billed separately from the fee.
- Independent contractors may be reimbursed for reasonable and actual travel expenses that exceed The Research Foundation rates, if the expenses are adequately documented and are permitted by sponsor policy and contract provisions.
- Original receipts are preferred. If a contractor provides copies of receipts instead of original receipts, the contractor must provide justification for the use of copies before the expense is reimbursed.
- This policy pertains to United States citizens and resident aliens. When the independent contractor is a nonresident alien, contact the Grants Management Office at 585-245-5060 for tax implications and instructions.
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.
- The cost of airplane tickets (including taxes) is reimbursable.
- The cost of tolls, parking, and mileage related to airplane travel (e.g., travel to and from and parking at the airport) is reimbursable.
- Luggage fees are reimbursable.
- Nonrefundable airline tickets should not be charged to a sponsored program account if a trip is cancelled. (According to federal regulations a cost can be charged to a project if there is a direct benefit to the project. If the trip is canceled, there is no benefit to the project, and the cost should be absorbed by the campus.)
- 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.
Airline Reservation Options:
Project directors/faculty may purchase airline tickets through Expedia and Orbitz-type websites using their personal credit cards, and receive reimbursement from the grant funds. Documentation of purchase must be provided - this would include a copy of the invoice and a copy of personal bank or credit card statement reflecting the payment.
Personally-owned automobiles may be used for The Research Foundation (RF) business. However, it is the responsibility of the Grants Management Office 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.
Mileage, toll charges, and parking fees must be recorded on the Travel Payment Request Form.
The IRS business mileage rate is $.65.5 effective January 1, 2023. (Business mileage rate for Jul 1 - Dec 31, 2022 period was $.62.5. (Standard Mileage Rate).
RF Non-Owned/Hired Automobile Insurance (back to top)
- The RF carries a non-owned/hired automobile insurance policy to protect the RF against claims and losses. Additional named insures on the RF’s policy include employees, project directors, volunteers, and others who are working within the scope of their employment on RF business, or who are conducting RF business under the direction of a project director or other person authorized to act on behalf of the RF.
- In the event of an accident, the underlying coverage on the personal automobile becomes primary for the payment of any claims. If the driver of the automobile is not the owner, any valid and collectible automobile insurance carried by the owner becomes primary. The insurance carried by the driver of the automobile then becomes secondary.
- After all valid and collectible underlying automobile insurance coverage has been exhausted, the RF’s non-owned/hired automobile insurance policy will cover the amount of any valid claim that exceeds the underlying policies.
Expenses (back to top)
- 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 (IRS). Effective January, 2023 the rate is $.655/mile. This can include travel from the traveler’s residence or official work station to local transportation terminals or local business sites (e.g., seminars, meetings), provided that the mileage is above and beyond mileage from the traveler’s home to their official station. Mileage from the traveler’s home to an official work station is not reimbursable.
- 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.
- The cost of tolls and parking are reimbursable for both local and out-of-town travel.
Nonreimbursable Costs (back to top)
- Unnecessary Additional Costs: If GMO 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 Incurred While on RF Business. In accordance with RF policy, fines and related towing charges for traffic violations, illegal parking, or speeding are not reimbursable.
Rental Vehicles (back to top)
Rental vehicles may be used when it is in the best interests of the project or the RF. For example, renting a vehicle would be considered appropriate under the following circumstances:
- renting is the least costly alternative
- renting is the only method of transportation available
- renting will eliminate substantial delays.
Vehicles should be rented in the name of The Research Foundation (RF). This ensures that both the RF and the employee (driver) are properly covered. Contact the Grants Management Office at (585) 245-5060 for car rental instruction ... special rates apply. Prior approval and written justification are required.
New York State Tax Exemption (back to top)
RF expenses related to travel within New York State are exempt from state and local sales and use tax. Contact the Grants Management Office for a copy of the RF's Tax Exempt Certification, Form ST-119.1. Contact telephone no.: 585-245-5060.
Documentation Requirements (back to top)
The rental invoice and an explanatory statement of the rental car use must be attached to the Travel Payment Request form. The total cost must be recorded on the form.
Research Foundation Preferred Rental Car Company (back to top)
The Research Foundation has established agreements with National and Enterprise Rental Car companies. Rentals will be direct billed to GMO when and ONLY when the billing number is provided (please contact (585) 245-5060 for this information). The rental documents should clearly show that the vehicle is rented on behalf of the Research Foundation. This will eliminate any confusion regarding liability for coverage in the event of an insurance claim.
Cost of Renting a Vehicle
Damage Waiver Protection
Damage waiver protection coverage, also known as loss-damage waiver (LDW) or collision damage waiver (CDW), is available and should be purchased for all short-term vehicle rentals. This cost is generally an allowable charge to the sponsored program account.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
Personal Effects Insurance (PEI)
It is not necessary to purchase additional liability coverage from the vehicle rental agency. Vehicles rented under short-term rental agreements are afforded primary liability coverage under the RF’s non-owned/hired automobile insurance policy (see travel handbook for more information).
Citations/Violations Incurred while on RF Business, such as fines and related towing charges for traffic violations, illegal parking, or speeding.
What to Do When Primary Insurance Coverage is Required
Some long-term rental agreements require that the RF carry primary insurance on the rented vehicle. In such cases, the vehicles must be individually listed on the RF’s owned automobile insurance policy. This policy is subject to appropriate deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. The deductible must be paid by the operating location. There is a premium charge for adding vehicles to the RF’s owned automobile insurance policy.
To the Rental Agency: All accidents must be reported immediately to the rental agency. In addition, the authorized driver is required to complete the agency’s accident report form. Failure to comply with the requirements of the rental agency for reporting an accident or damage to the rental vehicle could result in the driver being held personally liable for any costs.
To the RF Central Office: All accidents must also be reported to the Office of General Counsel and Secretary by calling (518) 434-7045, or by faxing information to (518) 434-8352 or sent via email to RFLegal@rfsuny.org.
The RF’s insurance carrier reserves the right to deny coverage due to late reporting of a claim.
Public Transportation (back to top)
Travelers may want to use public transportation for travel between their residence or official station. The official station as defined by The Research Foundation (RF) states, “The official station of an employee is the address of the office to which the employee is assigned.”
- between their residence or official station and the local transportation terminal
- from one transportation terminal to another transportation terminal
- between transportation terminal and lodging
- between transportation terminal and work site (at destination)
- between lodging and work site (at destination)
Travelers should use the most economical means of transportation whenever possible.
The cost of necessary taxi, shuttle, bus or subway trips is reimbursable. Original receipts for expenditures over $25 must be submitted to GMO. If receipts were not obtained, the number of trips and the amount(s) paid must be recorded or a statement containing the information must be attached to the Travel Payment Request Form.
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.
- The cost of the train or bus ticket is reimbursable.
- The cost of tolls, parking, and mileage related to train or bus travel (e.g., travel to and from and parking at the station) is reimbursable.
- Ticket stubs to support reimbursement of each expenditure over $25 must be attached to the Travel Payment Request Form. If sleeping or parlor car accommodations are used, justification must also be attached to the form. The cost of the ticket should be recorded on the form.
Foreign Travel (back to top)
When sponsors allow foreign travel but do not provide a schedule of allowance, the U.S. State Department's Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas must be used. The rates for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are established by the Department of Defense in Official DoD Per Diem Rates.
Current Travel Warnings:
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs decides, based on relevant information, to issue travel warnings to U.S. citizens, recommending that Americans avoid travel to certain counties. The countries and dates the travel warnings are listed on the Current Travel Warnings website: https://www.state.gov/travel/
It is the traveler’s responsibility to check the Current Travel Warnings list before traveling, to obtain the necessary authorization, and to read and abide by the information contained in the travel warning.
Travelers going to any country indicated by the U.S. Department of State with a travel warning must have advance written approval from SUNY Geneseo’s Operations Manager and President, with written notice to the RF's central office before traveling. Please contact the Grants Management Office at (585) 245-5060 to make these arrangements.
International Travel Assistance and Medical Coverage:
The RF's board of directors authorized the RF to provide International Travel Assistance coverage for all persons traveling overseas on official RF business. Contact the Grants Management Office directly for this information, (585) 245-5060.
- Air Travel on federally funded projects must comply with the Fly America Act.
- If a traveler plans to rent a vehicle while in a foreign territory, the Office of General Counsel and Secretary should be notified beforehand.
- Vehicles should be rented in the name of the Research Foundation. This ensures that both the RF and the employee (driver) are properly covered and will eliminate any confusion regarding liability for coverage in the event of an insurance claim.
- Insurance coverage purchased in the U.S. is generally not recognized outside of the covered territories. Therefore, when traveling outside of the U.S., it is necessary to purchase the appropriate insurance from the rental agency in the country where the vehicle is rented. As a general rule, it is recommended that the traveler purchase all of the insurance offered by the rental agency in the foreign territory.
Canada: Some sponsors consider Canadian travel to be domestic travel while others consider it foreign travel. Travelers should check sponsor guidelines to determine how their sponsor classifies Canadian travel and categorize it accordingly for payment purposes. Even when travel to Canada is considered domestic by the sponsor, travelers should claim foreign rates for payment unless the award instrument or sponsor regulation provides otherwise.
Office Location: Room 221, Erwin Hall
Office Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.