|Policy Number: 14.14
|Effective Date: 10/20/2017
|Responsible Unit: Financial Services - Accounts Payable
|Last Revised Date: 02/13/2024
Purpose and Summary
To provide the requirements and guidelines for lodging expenditures for employees, students, Designated Campus Colleagues (DCCs) and vendors while traveling to conduct University business.
This policy applies to all University locations and units, including all University extensions, satellite locations, and off-site campus units, both domestic and international.
- Accountable Plan: The University of Arizona reimburses employees under the IRS Accountable Plan in which expenses must have a business purpose, be adequately documented, and submitted within a reasonable period.
- Commercial Lodging: Includes any business enterprise that offers its services to the public and charges an advertised rate, including accommodations offered by online rental services such as Airbnb and VRBO and other offerings.
- Lodging Limit: The maximum lodging expense payment or reimbursement limit established by the State of Arizona, also known as the State’s lodging rate or Rack Rate. Lodging rates are “room” or “rack” rates; other charges that are imposed by the applicable government authority, such as taxes, may be reimbursed in addition to the lodging limit amount.
- Long-Term Travel: A temporary work assignment to a duty post, more than thirty-five (35) miles from the individual’s residence and/or primary duty post for periods greater than thirty (30) days but less than one (1) year. Travel exceeding one (1) year should refer to Policy 9.14 Relocation Policy for Employees.
- Traveler must be on authorized University travel at least 35-miles from their designated duty post to be eligible for reimbursement or direct payment to the vendor. Lodging rates are designated by the State of Arizona Accounting Manual, Topic 50, Section 95, to provide suitable and safe, but not luxurious accommodations and travelers should request the lowest available rate.
- Lodging costs incurred within 35 miles of the traveler’s designated duty post or residence will not be reimbursed unless extenuating circumstances exists which makes it necessary for the traveler to attain lodging. Supporting documentation must include an itemized billing statement from the lodging venue along with an explanation describing the extenuating circumstances. Reimbursement or direct pay to the lodging venue is considered taxable income to the employee and will be reported on the employee’s W-2 form.
- A clear and thorough documented University business purpose is required for all trip related lodging requirements detailing how the University benefited from the expenses incurred.
- Under no circumstances shall lodging, while on personal travel, be charged to or temporarily funded by the University. Only individual business lodging costs will be incurred either via reimbursement or direct payment. The traveler is responsible for additional lodging expenditures while on personal travel.
- University employees who earn vacation hours and include personal time with University business travel must report such personal travel time as vacation time in UAccess Employee.
- Designated lodging may exceed maximum lodging limits and are allowable without additional justification when a copy of the conference brochure showing the designated lodging rate is provided.
- Resort fees, booking fees, health club facility fees and cleaning fees are allowable if such fees are non-discretionary and always charged by the establishment and such charges, when added to the room rate, do not increase the daily lodging charge above the maximum reimbursement rate. Fees increasing the single room rate cost above the lodging limit require justification with a business purpose.
- Payment or reimbursement for lodging costs, exclusive of taxes and other charges that are imposed by the applicable government authority, may not exceed the maximum lodging rate designated by the State of Arizona. Exceeding maximum lodging rates designated by the State of Arizona must be justified with a business purpose detailing why the accommodations were selected.
- Additional lodging expenses for room features, personal items incurred, or the convenience of the traveler that are not for the primary benefit of the University are not reimbursable.
- Cancellation and late fees are discouraged although, reimbursable if fees incurred are the result of a business decision or due to serious unpredictable or unavoidable personal reason, which is at the discretion of department leadership. These costs will not be reimbursed when the fee is incurred for personal purposes or are determined to be avoidable.
- Business-related telephone, internet, and communication charges, including those incurred at a hotel business center, are reimbursable when documented by original receipts or are included in the itemized lodging receipt, and supported by a business purpose.
- Rates for Alaska, Hawaii and the US Territories are located on the Defense Travel Management Office website.
- Rates for international travel lodging and meals are located on the US Department of State Office of Allowances rates website.
- Travel related expenses submitted for reimbursement by vendors, contractors or other non-employees must follow University Travel policy designated by the State of Arizona when conducting state business. Exceptions include when a written agreement or a contract is in place and signed by a University designee with signature authority. Substantiated travel reimbursements with original itemized receipts under the IRS accountable plan are not reported on the IRS Form 1099.
Long Term Travel
- If the employee will be away from their duty post for more than 365 days, this is not considered travel status. Once the traveler knows the duration will be greater than 365 days it becomes a relocation and is not considered University travel and will not be reimbursed within this policy. Refer to Policy 9.14 Relocation Policy for Employees for policy on relocation expenses
- Long term travel status applies to sabbatical leave but is not necessarily restricted to only sabbatical leave.
- Long Term travel status must be authorized by the department head with a letter of explanation detailing the lodging arrangements, requested/approved meal reimbursement and other pertinent information. The following guidelines apply:
- Travelers are allowed regular lodging and meal reimbursement rates for the appropriate season, not to exceed seven (7) days, while arranging for long term assignment if arrangements for accommodations were unable to be made prior to traveling.
- After the initial seven (7) day period, meals and lodging will be reimbursed as follows:
- Meal reimbursements will be made at the rate of fifty (50%) percent of the full-day amount allowed for the designated location.
- Lodging will be reimbursed at the rate of twenty-five (25%) percent of the amount allowed for the destination. Lodging reimbursement includes all related costs such as electricity, gas, water, and telephone.
- Maximum reimbursable amounts must be determined in advance by the department, on a case-by-case basis.
- Receipts are required for expenditures for which the traveler is requesting reimbursement.
- Sponsored Project Grant and Contract accounts: If the grant or contract provides specific lodging reimbursement rates for foreign or domestic travel, these rates will be honored but must be supported by a copy of the relevant page of the grant or contract.
Lodging rates are based on the location, where the traveler will be during the rest period of their trip, documented on a travel itinerary. Steps to identify the allowable lodging reimbursement rate are as follows:
- Travel prior to 1/8/2024 is required to use the lodging rates published by the State of Arizona Accounting Manual dated 10/1/2022. Travel on or after 1/8/2024 will be required to use the State of Arizona Accounting Manual lodging reimbursement rate table (begins at page 6).
- Locate the state, city or county and review the lodging column for the room rate maximum limit to make reservations.
- If the specific city is not listed, use the rate applicable to the county in which the lodging occurs.
- If neither city nor county is listed, use the default rate listed at the beginning of the table.
- When an allowable business purpose exists the business unit should use one of the following options:
- Supporting documentation must include citizenship of the traveler(s) to ensure requirements for payment(s) to and on behalf of a foreign visitor are followed.
- When travelers share lodging while on University business and each traveler pays their portion, each traveler should obtain a separate receipt from the hotel when submitting for reimbursement. When the establishment is unable to provide separate receipts, one traveler should submit the original receipt, marked with “Shared Lodging” and indicate the costs incurred by the traveler on the receipt. The second traveler should submit a copy of the same receipt marked “Shared Lodging” indicating their costs incurred for reimbursement. Documentation must include the names of all travelers sharing the room. Shared lodging with multiple travelers on University business may be reimbursed per person, not to exceed the actual costs incurred, subject to lodging reimbursement limits. Reimbursements must include full details of what occurred and a breakdown of expenses for auditing purposes.
Two travelers shared a room, and one traveler identified as the primary person and paid for lodging in full. The primary traveler submits the full billing statement and is reimbursed the full amount. When the room rate exceeds the single room rate lodging limit, write “shared lodging” on the billing statement. Supporting documentation must include the Travel Authorization number, name, and affiliation of both travelers. If the billing statement does not reflect the travelers name that is being reimbursed, please provide proof of payment.
Two travelers (or multiple travelers) shared a room and each paid a portion of the expense. When the room rate exceeds the single room rate, write “shared lodging” on the billing statement and include a breakdown indicating each traveler’s portion. Make copies of the billing statement for each traveler’s reimbursement. Supporting documentation must include the Travel Authorization number, names, and affiliation of all travelers.
- Upon return from travel, prepare a Travel Expense Report following post-trip instructions. Submit documentation accordingly to seek reimbursement and include business purpose and justification for expenditures outside of University policy.
- When University employees make their own lodging arrangements or can control the site of the conference, training sessions, or agency meetings, the conference designated hotel ruling may not apply. If established lodging reimbursement maximums will be exceeded when the site is controlled by the University, a request for exception should be documented within the expenditure. The exception request should explain why it is impractical to use commercial establishments where the rates are within prescribed allowances.
- Examples of non-reimbursable expenses are generally those incurred by the traveler that are personal in nature and not for the primary benefit of the University. Examples may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Lodging upgrades exceeding lodging rates unless supported with a business purpose.
- Movies, alcoholic beverages, water, juice, and snacks available in the room.
- Valet parking for the convenience of the traveler.
- Internet, Wi-Fi, or hot spot unless supported with a business purpose.
- Health club charges, unless medically required by traveler’s physician.
- Room Service (Meal Reimbursement rates will be reimbursed).
- Tips to baggage porters, maids, and service personnel, as these are inclusive of meal and incidental reimbursements.
- Expenses incurred to conduct personal business or for the personal preference or convenience of the traveler.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When the conference hotel lodging rate exceeds the reimbursement limit, how should this be handled?
The State of Arizona lodging limits allow for an exception for designated lodging locations to reduce ground transportation costs when attendees at a conference have no control over the venue. Travelers will be reimbursed actual costs when the conference brochure or website is provided classifying the hotel as the conference hotel. Accommodations at an alternate hotel in the immediate vicinity of the conference hotel are also considered designated lodging; when no vacancies exist at the conference location and details are provided in the supporting documentation.
- How do I determine the lodging rate for the commercial establishment?
Traveler should read and understand expenditures to be incurred on behalf of the University when booking reservations. When additional fees increase the lodging costs, the traveler assumes responsibility for these expenses unless there is a compelling business purpose.
- What are the receipt requirements for lodging costs?
Lodging costs are determined by the address on the billing statement, invoice, or receipt and should include the traveler’s name, lodging establishment name and address, check-in and check-out dates, and itemized expenses to include room charges, applicable taxes, and fees. Proof of payment should also be provided if paid by the traveler directly.
- Why does the employee have to sign or approve a reimbursement?
University policy requires employees to authorize reimbursement of expenses and certify the reimbursement is a bona fide University expenditure that has not been reimbursed by another entity, or paid with University PCard, or other funds.
- When personal travel is combined with business travel, how should this be handled?
When personal travel is combined with business travel, the traveler should make lodging arrangements directly and provide a personal credit card to secure the room and charges. When submitting for reimbursement, the University will reimburse the most economical room rate available at the same hotel, within the allowable State of Arizona lodging limits.
- My significant other made my business travel lodging reservation using their credit card, and the lodging receipt is in their name. Can I be reimbursed?
University best practice is to reimburse the individual who incurred the expense when possible. However, the significant other can provide a signed statement or email indicating the University can reimburse the traveler. Supporting documentation must include the signed statement or email from the individual that incurred the cost.
9.18 Small Dollar/Direct Purchase Procedures
9.16 Payments to Nonresident Alien
14.12 Accountable Plan
14.16 Preparing a Travel Expense Report
14.17 Cancellations and Corrections
Business Purpose Guide
Purchasing Policies Manual
Purchasing Card Policies Manual 6.3 Hotel Enhancement
Contracting with Hotels
* Please note that sections titled Procedures, Frequently Asked Questions, Related Information, and Revision History are provided solely for the convenience of users and are not part of the official University policy.