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Meals

Employees

Non-overnight travel. Meal expenses incurred by employees during non-overnight travel are not reimbursable due to the Internal Revenue Service requirement that these reimbursements be considered a taxable fringe benefit.

Overnight travel. Meal expenses incurred by employees during overnight travel that exceed the federal travel regulation meal Per Diem (M&IE) for the travel destination must be supported by itemized receipts. Within the above limits, travelers may only be reimbursed up to the amount actually expended. Please refer to Combined Travel Meals and Lodging Limits for meals and lodging daily cap.

***Travelers should check with their department or college/division about meal receipts and per diem/actuals requirements, as other travel rules may apply.

Actuals. The dollar amount the traveler may claim without presenting itemized receipts is the lesser of the max per diem on the GSA website (TX separate) and the amount the traveler actually spent on meals each day during the travel. If itemized receipts are required, please note that non-itemized receipts such as credit card statements and receipts without a description of what was purchased will not be accepted.

Per Diem. The University does not have a per diem, and actual meal costs are required to be claimed. Costs cannot be averaged across days of travel. Receipts or a written explanation from the traveler will be requested if meal costs claimed indicate that actual costs may not have been submitted. This includes instances when meal costs are identical to the federal meal and incidental rate, and when meal costs do not fluctuate for different days of travel. The explanation must come from the traveler.

If the conference hotel rate is used, actual meals up to the federal travel regulation meal per diem (M&IE) for the travel destination are allowed. Within the above limits, travelers may only be reimbursed up to the amount actually expended. These meal expenses must be approved by Department Chair, Director, Associate Dean, Dean, Assistant/Associate Vice President, Vice President, President, or Chancellor

Business meals are to be recorded separately from the daily meal expenses. Employees must present a copy of the university’s Texas Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate when they pay for the business meals with the university credit cards or vouchers. If meals are paid out-of-pocket, the certificate should not be presented, and the full amount of sales tax may be reimbursed. Business meals, including beverages, tax, and gratuity, shall not exceed $100 per person (no exceptions) and require itemized receipts along with detailed description of the nature and business purpose of the official function, noting honoree(s) and names of the participants. Business meals incurred while in travel status must be processed via Concur and cannot be charged to a variety of funds such as state appropriated, tuition, or sponsored project fund 5xxx cost centers.

Alcoholic beverages, if allowed by the department, cannot be purchased during normal business hours and must be itemized and charged to account 53113, whether part of a travel meal or business meal. Alcoholic beverages cannot be charged to a variety of funds such as tuition, sponsored project, federal indirect cost, or Athletic cost centers.  

Tips or gratuities are not reimbursable on state funds unless a mandatory service charge is imposed by the establishment. Discretion must be used to ensure tips are given only in appropriate circumstances and for appropriate amounts, not to exceed 20% of the amount charged.  

Non-employees  

Non-overnight travel. Meal expenses incurred by prospective employees, students, prospective students, and university guests (non-employees) during non-overnight travel may be reimbursed and must be supported by itemized receipts.  Such expenses should not be lavish or extravagant in view of the circumstances.

Overnight travel. Meal expenses incurred by prospective employees, students, and prospective students during overnight travel that exceed the federal travel regulation meal per diem (M&IE) for the travel destination must be supported by itemized receipts. Within the above limits, travelers may only be reimbursed up to the amount actually expended. Please refer to Combined Travel Meals and Lodging Limits for meals and lodging daily cap. 

Overnight meals for university guests and contractors must be in accordance with the agreement/contract and must be supported with itemized receipts . The expenses must not be lavish or extravagant.

Sources: MAPP 04.02.01A; MAPP 04.02.01B; GSA Per Diem Rates; FAQs for Travel Outside the U.S.; Domestic Travel FAQs; TexTravel/GSA - Federal Management Regulation; Texas Government Code Section 660.006, 660.024 and 660.113; Federal Travel Regulation (GSA - General Services Administration).