Reporting Travel Expenses to meet IRS Accountable Plan Requirements

Accounting is committed to accurate and timely travel expense reimbursements via our online Travel Event Management (TEM) expense reporting system. Reporting travel expenses usually results in reimbursement payments to employees. It is the Accounting Office responsibility to provide a reliable travel expense reporting process, ensure travel expense reporting adheres to UC policy, and request clarifications to ensure travel expense reimbursements meet the IRS "Accountable Plan" requirements.

To meet the IRS Accountable Plan requirements, all university employees must comply with certain travel expense reporting rules. Under the IRS Accountable Plan requirements, travelers provide the university with the same type of records and supporting information that the traveler would provide to the IRS if the IRS questioned a travel related deduction. Not providing original receipts or adequately accounting for travel expenses may be considered by the IRS as a taxable expense subject to reporting on Form W-2. UC policy restricts the reimbursement of taxable travel expenses. The IRS Accountable Plan limits the need for the University to report travel reimbursements as taxable income and minimizes the need for employees to itemize business-related travel expense for tax reporting.

Documentation and Supporting Information Required

To assist in processing timely travel expense reimbursements and maintaining compliance with IRS Accountability Plan requirements, please provide the following elements on travel expense reimbursement requests:

  • Substantiation of business expenses: Completion of all required fields in TEM.
  • Send documentation to scanning with printed coversheet:
    • Itemized receipts are always required for airfare, lodging, car rental, registration fees, and other expenses over $75.
    • Itemized receipts should be original and show the name of the payee, the amount of the charge, the transaction date, and method of payment. If original receipts are not available, a Declaration of Missing Evidence should be completed.
  • Meeting agendas are used to document the university business purpose.
  • Clearly identify any itinerary breaks or interruptions for personal reasons. Any deviation from the university business itinerary should be explained in the comments section. All personal travel costs are borne by the traveler.
  • All travel expense reimbursement requests must be reimbursed by the Accounting Office within 45 days of the trip end date. Therefore, to allow time for the preparation and approval process, it is recommended that travel expenses be submitted to the department travel coordinator no more than 21 days from the trip return date.

More Information

The above requirements are not an exhaustive list and, for the sake of brevity, represent the most significant of IRS Accountability Plan requirements for employee travel expense reimbursements.

  • For more information about IRS Accountability Plan requirements see IRS publication 463.
  • For more information about official university travel policy and procedures see University of California Travel Policy under Business and Finance Bulletin G-28.