The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Expenditures must be consistent with the university’s purchasing policies and guidelines as well as the guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to business and travel expense policies.
This article provides helpful guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Business Expense Team receives about expense reimbursement policies and processes. For common questions related to travel, visit Recent Updates on Booking University-Sponsored Travel.
For general help with business expense and reimbursement questions, contact the Financial Support Center.
Updated Travel Booking Policy and Reimbursement Guidance
In June 2020, the university implemented a new travel booking policy to support university travelers. This policy, now codified in Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses, requires the use of a centralized travel booking program when faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are booking air fare, hotels, or rental cars for university-sponsored travel.
Use of a Stanford Travel booking channel automatically registers travel reservations in the university’s Travel Registry, which connects to Stanford’s provider of medical, personal, travel and security assistance. This allows the university to locate and support its travelers in the event of an emergency.
There are instances where faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are not required to be booked through Stanford Travel booking channels but should manually enter and update their reservations in the university’s Travel Registry. Expenses associated with booking policy exemptions (exclusions) are still reimbursable as long as they are in accordance with their respective travel policies. For more information, see Travel Booking Policy and Exemptions and the new Resource: Stanford Travel Policy and Exemptions Desk Guide.
Updates to Beneficiary Step for SU Payee Transactions
In order to support compliance with tax reporting regulations, changes have been made in the system to gather information on the Beneficiary of the expense. A Beneficiary is defined as the individual or individuals who have “benefited” from the expense. For example:
- The individual who traveled on a business trip
- The individuals who participated in a business meal
Collecting beneficiary information for SU Payee transactions ensures that Stanford has accurate information about who benefits from each transaction.
Every SU Payee transaction now requires a response to the question “Is the payee the only beneficiary?” If the response is Yes, all reimbursed expenses will be attributed to the Payee. If the response is No, then the preparer must add a line to enter information about everyone who benefited from the expense.
On the new line, the preparer must enter the Type of beneficiary (Faculty, Staff, Student, Visitor, or Other) and provide the beneficiary name and other information.
When entering beneficiary Type, the preparer must select Other for certain types of transactions, such as business meals that exceed five beneficiaries. Learn more about beneficiary Types on the Expense Request System Help webpage.
On the final page of the transaction before selecting Submit, the preparer must check a box to attest that the beneficiary information is accurate and supporting documentation will be attached.
New Travel Booking Information Required for SU Payee and Non-SU Payee Expense Reports
In order to support the monitoring of and compliance with the new Travel Booking policy, preparers must now select the Stanford travel booking methods for the airfare, lodging, and car rental expense types in both SU Payee and Non-SU Payee Expense Reports.
This ERS change ensures that (with limited exceptions) payment and reimbursement for Stanford-sponsored travel only occurs when the travel is purchased through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels. This requirement was implemented in June 2020.
If a Stanford travel booking channel was not used to book travel, preparers should choose the option Other (Not a Stanford Travel Booking Method), enter an explanation in the transaction line remarks, and attach the pre-approval for this option to the back-up documentation for the transaction.