Frequently Asked Questions
Q: The Federal per diem rates include meal rates for various locations in Georgia. Are employees authorized to follow the federal guidelines when traveling to these locations in Georgia?
A: Federal per diem rates should only be used when employees travel outside the state of Georgia. Employees who travel within Georgia are limited to the $28 per day meal limit regardless of the travel destination and regardless of whether the Federal per diem rates specify a higher limit. However, certain counties within Georgia have been designated as “high cost areas. Employees who are both working and spending the night in these high cost areas are limited to $36 per day for meals. High cost areas are limited to the following counties: Chatham, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Glynn, and Gwinnett.
Q: What taxes are employees exempt from paying when they are traveling on official business and are required to stay overnight in a hotel or motel?
A: Employees are exempt from paying the county or municipal excise tax (also known as Occupancy Tax) on lodging. However, employees are still required to pay the State sales tax associated with the lodging expense. Employees are only exempt from paying such taxes when they are traveling within the State of Georgia. All applicable taxes must be paid when traveling out-of-state.
Q: What should an employee do if a hotel refuses to accept the tax-exempt form?
A: Employees should be sure to present the tax-exempt form to the hotel at check-in. If the hotel refuses to accept the tax-exempt form at check-in, the employee should attempt to resolve the issue with hotel management before checking out at the end of their stay. If the matter is not resolved by the time the employee checks out, the employee should pay the tax. The employee should explain the payment of the tax as an unusual expense on their travel expense statement. The Accounts Payable office will reimburse the employee for the hotel/motel tax if the employee provides us with the following information: employee name; date(s) of lodging; name, address, and telephone number of hotel.
Q: What are the procedures for students traveling with an employee?
A: The students must be on separate Travel Requests, even if they are not going to incur any expenses. Additionally, please keep all student expenses separate from employee expenses.
Q: Is tipping a maid service, concierge or valet service (when self parking is available) an allowable expense?
A: No. Other unallowable expenses include laundry, entertainment expenses, theater and purchase of alcoholic beverages.
Q: Are meal receipts required for reimbursement?
A: No, but it is important to note that any expenses that exceed the per diem allowance must be explained (i.e. a banquet that is an integral part of the conference or meeting) and might not be reimbursed. Additionally, high-level administrative approval will also be required, thus, delaying the processing of the reimbursement (and, still might not be reimbursed).
Q: What travel expenses be pre-paid?
A: Airfare, registration fees, and lodging.
Q: What are the per diem rates for travel (what are our travel regulations)?
A: Per Diem rates can be found at www.gsa.gov by following the Per Diem link for locations outside of Georgia. For locations within the State of Georgia, Georgia Highlands College follows the travel guidelines set by the State of Georgia Department of Audits. Travel policies, procedures and regulations can be located on the Web at: http://sao.georgia.gov . It is possible the Board of Regents(BOR) travel regulations may be more restrictive than those of the State. Please review BOR travel regulations at: http://www.usg.edu/fiscal_affairs/bpm_acct/bpm-sect04.pdf Please Note: The meal allowance for travel in the State of Georgia is $28.00 except in certain areas deemed as high cost. These areas are identified in the State travel regulations.
Q: What are commute miles?
A: Commute miles are the distance traveled from the employee’s residence to his/her home campus. Normal commuting miles must be deducted when calculating business miles if the employee departs from his/her residence or returns to his/her residence on a normal working day. If travel occurs on a weekend or holiday, mileage is calculated from the point of departure with no reduction for normal commuting miles.
Q: Can I get paid for meals if I returned the same day I departed?
A: Employees who are required to travel for their job and do not stay overnight may be reimbursed for certain meal expenses under the following situations.
1. Employees acting as an official representative for their department may receive per diem for meals that are an integral part of a scheduled, official meeting. Per diem is only authorized, however, if the meeting is with persons outside the employee’s department and if the meeting continues during the meal. Employees are not authorized to receive this per diem if they leave the premises of the meeting site.
2. Employees may be reimbursed for noon meals that are part of a required registration fee that is paid by the employee.
Note: In this instance, a per diem is not authorized, since the registration fee is the basis for reimbursement.
3. Employees on State business who travel more than fifty (50) miles from home or headquarters on a work assignment, and are away for more than twelve (12) hours, may receive per diem for the noon meal, even when there is no overnight lodging. In addition to the noon meal, employees who depart prior to 6:30 A.M. are entitled to per diem for breakfast, and employees who return later than 7:30 P.M. are entitled to per diem for dinner. Employees must meet the eligibility requirements outlined above for per diem related to the noon meal before per diem for breakfast and/or dinner will be considered.
*Employees who are reimbursed for any of these circumstances are still expected to remain within the authorized meal limits.