State of Arizona Office of the Auditor General



  School Districts - Frequently Asked Questions - Travel
  1. Where can school districts obtain information regarding the current reimbursement rates for travel expenses (mileage, lodging, and meals)?
The current reimbursement rates for mileage, lodging, and meals are available on the Arizona Department of Administration's (DOA) Web site in Supplement I to the State Travel policy. To use DOA’s reimbursement rates table, first locate the state to which the employee will travel. If the specific city is listed, use those lodging/meal rates. If the city is not listed, refer to the county in which the city is located and use the applicable rates. If necessary, determine the rate that is effective for the time period during which travel will occur. If the county is not listed, use the following default rates:

Lodging $60.00
Meals & Incidentals $34.00

Meal reimbursements include the actual amount spent for a meal, not to exceed the maximum meal reimbursement amounts. When necessary, the meal and incidental expense rate should be allocated between meals as follows:

Breakfast 7.00 8.00 9.00 10.00 11.00 12.00
Lunch 10.00 11.00 13.00 14.00 16.00 17.00
Dinner 17.00 20.00 22.00 25.00 27.00 30.00
  $34.00 $39.00 $44.00 $49.00 $54.00 $59.00

  1. Are receipts required for meal reimbursements?
No. Employees should report the lesser of the actual cost of meals or the maximum meal reimbursement amount on their travel reimbursement claims. The district must verify that the amount claimed for meal reimbursements does not exceed the maximum meal reimbursement amount, but is not required to obtain receipts to verify that the amount claimed does not exceed the actual cost of meals. However, the governing board may establish a policy to require receipts for meal reimbursements. This policy should be in writing and included in the district's travel policy.
  1. What expenditure object code should be used to record taxable meal reimbursements for employee travel without an overnight stay or substantial rest period?
Districts should use object code 6290-Other Employee Benefits to record taxable meal reimbursements for employee travel without an overnight stay or substantial rest period. For travel expenditures that are not taxable to the employee (meal reimbursements with an overnight stay or substantial rest period, and mileage and lodging reimbursements), districts should use object code 6580-Travel. To help ensure that all taxable reimbursements are identified, districts should process all employee travel reimbursements through their payroll department.
  1. For taxable meal reimbursements without an overnight stay or substantial rest period, which taxes should be withheld from the reimbursement amount?
When an employee receives meal reimbursements for travel without an overnight stay or substantial rest period, the district should withhold social security, Medicare, and federal and state income taxes from the taxable meal reimbursement. State retirement and long-term disability should not be withheld from taxable meal reimbursements.
  1. If school district governing board members are eligible to receive meal reimbursements for travel that does not include an overnight stay or substantial rest period, how should districts report these taxable reimbursements?
Districts should issue such board members a W-2 at the end of the calendar year for the total of all taxable travel reimbursements paid in that calendar year.
  1. Can school districts pay travel expenses for an employee who chaperones an overnight student trip within a 50 mile radius of the employee’s duty post or residence?
In accordance with the State of Arizona Travel Policy, certain exceptions to standard travel policies may be made with special written approval. Among these exceptions is the payment of meals and lodging within 50 miles of duty post or personal residence for employees as determined necessary.

Any student–related employee travel exceptions should be included in the District’s adopted travel policy. The policy should address both the nature of allowable exceptions and the required level of approval necessary for each type of exception. Districts should also specify the procedures for documenting a detailed explanation of the need for the exception and obtaining the required special written approval in advance of the travel.

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