Effective: October 05, 2015

Revised: August 20, 2015

This policy applies to all individual reimbursements for meal and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem allowances, including those paid to non-employees and students.

Introduction

This policy has been issued under the authority of the Board of Regents as it relates to the governance of university travel and expense policies created under Wis. Stat. s. 36.11(56).

References and Constraints

Regent Policy Document 21-5 University Travel Policies

UW System Administrative Policy 405 (SYS 405), Travel & Expense – General Travel & Expense Policy (formerly 1200 (ANS))

UW System Administrative Policy 435 (SYS 435), Headquarter City & UW Sponsored Event Policy

IRS Publication 463

Definitions

Please review keyword definitions in relation to the above policy.

Business Objectives of Policy

  • Define rate maximums and standards for payment of meal and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem reimbursement for individual travelers
  • Clarify meal and incidental expenses that can be paid with University funds under the M&IE per diem allowance
  • Prescribe required deductions for provided meals
  • Prescribe a day trip meal allowance for those travelers that do not qualify for M&IE per diem allowance
  • Differentiate individual M&IE per diem allowance payments from group, hospitality, event, or conference provided meals
  • Define incidental expenses included in M&IE per diem
  • Offer flexibility to travelers in how they allocated the M&IE per diem allowance when in travel status
  • Leverage efficiencies in the reimbursement process

Policy Statement

This policy and any related procedures apply to all individuals, including employees, students, and non-employees traveling on behalf of the University.

When the University traveler is expected to incur costs for meals and incidentals for overnight business travel, the University will reimburse meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) under a per diem allowance. The maximum M&IE per diem allowance will be at the rate established by the Federal Government for the location of each full day’s (24 hours) travel. The M&IE per diem allowance will only be paid when the traveler is expected to incur costs for meals and incidentals; business travel requires an overnight stay outside the traveler’s headquarters and when the travel is supported by a University business purpose.

For Continental U.S. locations, the incidental portion of the M&IE per diem allowance is $5.00. For Non-Continental U.S. and foreign locations the incidental portion of the M&IE per diem varies by the location.

Applicability to Non-Employees

This policy applies to all non-employees (students, job interview candidates, invited speakers, consultants/contractors, etc.) traveling on University business when meals or incidentals are directly paid by the non-employee.

University hosted meals are covered under the SYS 435, Headquarter City & UW System Sponsored Events Policy and are not part of the M&IE per diem allowance policy. The M&IE per diem allowance is not used for the payment of meals associated with sponsored events or hosting.

First and Last Days of Travel

The M&IE per diem for the location is reimbursed for each full day (24 hours) of travel. First and last days of travel qualify for a 75% proportional M&IE per diem based on the location where the traveler spends the night.

For trips that have multiple destinations, the first day’s M&IE per diem is based on the rate for the traveler’s destination – the location where the traveler will be spending the night. Subsequent full travel days are based on the location where the traveler will spend the night for that day of travel. The return day is determined by the location where the traveler spent the night before returning home or to University headquarters.

The UW TravelWIse Rate Calculator is the official source for obtaining lodging and M&IE Per Diem rates prior to travel. The calculator is updated on a monthly basis with any changes passed by the federal government.

Day Trip Meal Allowance

Travel that does not include an overnight stay will be limited to a tax reportable day trip meal allowance of $15 per day when the approving authority expects the traveler to incur meal expenses. No day trip meal allowance will be paid when the traveler receives a provided meal, regardless of amount.

Provided Meals Impact on M&IE Per Diem Allowance

If a conference or event provided meal occurs on a day when M&IE per diem is allowed, including first/last days of travel, the meal portion of the per diem is prorated (20% breakfast, 30% lunch, 50% dinner) to exclude any provided meal.

Non-employees and students traveling on University business must have the same deductions applied to M&IE per diems for any provided meal.

Exception: Hotel breakfast included in the hotel/lodging reservation price or international airfare meals provided as part of the airline ticket price for longer flights will not require a deduction from the M&IE per diem allowance.

See the UW TravelWIse Calculator to automatically prorate the M&IE per diem for accurate accounting of provided meals (link)

Reimbursement Eligibility

The M&IE per diem must be paid directly to the traveler. Travelers cannot claim an M&IE per diem on behalf of another person. Individual business travelers dining together will each be paid their respective per diem allowance. The applicable M&IE per diem, or proration for first and last day, is payable to the traveler without itemization of expense or receipts. Reimbursement requests for actual expenses that exceed the M&IE per diem will not be reimbursed by the University.

The following reimbursement policies apply:

  • The business purpose of the travel and overnight stay location must be documented on the expense report.
  • The M&IE per diem allowance must correspond to the location specified for overnight lodging.
  • Leave and return times are not required
  • The University will not pre-pay M&IE per diems
  • Meals purchased at the hotel and added to lodging receipts or folios (i.e. room service) will be deducted from the M&IE per diem allowance.
  • Reimbursement claims in excess of the M&IE per diem for the location will be reduced to the M&IE per diem for the location.
  • Any provided meals will be deducted from the M&IE per diem for that day, including the proportional first or last day M&IE per diem.

Calculating M&IE Per Diem Allowance – Domestic, Continental U.S. Locations (Excluding Alaska & Hawaii)

Daily meal and incidental expense per diems (including all related taxes and tips) are prescribed by the General Service Administration (GSA) for the location of expense. If the expense location is not listed, the standard rate for the location will apply unless you are in a high cost county (high cost city rates extend to all locations within the county). Current domestic per diem rates range from $46 (standard rate) to $71 depending on the location of the expense.

Regardless of destination, the M&IE rate for the location includes $5 to cover incidental expenses. The incidental portion of the per diem includes the following expenses:

  • Fees and tips given to restaurant wait staff, porters, baggage handlers, hotel housekeeping or other service staff, valet, train or ship service staff
  • Transportation between places of lodging or business to obtain meals when not obtainable within the immediate vicinity
  • Phone calls
  • Laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing of clothing
  • Mailing and other expenses associated with filing expense reports

Calculating M&IE Per Diem Allowance – All Non-Continental U.S. and Foreign Locations (Including Alaska, Hawaii, Trans-Border, U.S. Territories & Possessions)

Daily meal and incidental expense per diems for all foreign locations (including all related taxes and tips) are prescribed by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense. The combination of foreign “local meals” and “local incidentals” equal the total M&IE per diem for the location. Foreign location rates are updated on a monthly basis. If the location of travel is not listed, the “Other” rate will apply.

For foreign travel, the incidental portion of the per diem varies by location. The incidental portion of the per diem includes the following expenses:

  • Fees and tips given to restaurant wait staff, porters, baggage handlers, hotel housekeeping or other service staff, valet, train or ship service staff
  • Transportation between places of lodging or business to obtain meals when not obtainable within the immediate vicinity
  • Phone calls
  • Laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing of clothing
  • Bottled water
  • Mailing and other expenses associated with filing expense reports

Receipt Requirements

Receipts must not be submitted for meal and incidental per diem reimbursements. Travelers may not submit receipts for actual meal reimbursement in lieu of claiming the M&IE per diem.

Meals Related to Hosting, Candidate Recruitments, Business Meetings, and University Sponsored Events

The M&IE per diem allowance policy does not apply to hosting, hospitality, business meals, and meals provided as part of an official function, conference or other University sponsored event.

Any meals related to these business activities must be arranged, purchased, documented and paid for in accordance with the SYS 435, Headquarter City & UW System Sponsored Events Policy and rate maximums.

Procedural Standards

Procedures and Operational Standards for the payment of M&IE per diem or day trip allowances are integral to the application of this policy. Refer to the UW TravelWIse Rate Calculator and FAQs on the topic.