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 Stanford Travel Updates and Hot Topics.
For general help with business expense and reimbursement questions, contact the Financial Support Center.
For questions about purchasing and contracts, visit Purchasing and Contracts Updates and Hot Topics. The page provides guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Purchasing and Contracts Team receives about purchasing policies and processes.
On February 26, 2024, the Business Expense team will roll out improvements to the rejection and return reasons that central auditors use for Expense Reports (ERs) and Non-PO Payments (PRs) in the Expense Requests System (ERS). The changes include:
- Updates and consolidations of current rejection and return reasons to better clarify why a transaction is rejected or returned and how preparers can resolve the problem
- The addition of a number of new clear and actionable rejection and return reasons
- The retirement of several outdated rejection and return reasons
The changes help preparers and approvers to understand auditors’ instructions, and also provide more accurate end user reporting in OBI to help schools and units understand where more training may be needed.
The Digital Payments payment method, which was inaccessible from December 8, 2023 through January 15, 2024 while transitioning to an updated J.P. Morgan payment platform, is available for use again. The updated payment platform has a redesigned process for Stanford visitors to accept and receive payment. The interface to request Digital Payments in the Expense Requests System has not changed.
To support this change, the Digital Payments page on Fingate was revised to include an updated description of the Digital Payments reimbursement process for preparers and visitors. The Digital Payments page also links to a new instructional page for Stanford visitors, How to Register and Accept a Digital Payment, that can be shared with visitors.
Mileage reimbursement rates for 2024 are now available on Fingate and updated in Oracle. For 2024, the Internal Revenue Service increased the rate 1.5 cents per mile to $0.67 for using a private automobile for business purposes, and decreased the rate 1 cent per mile to $0.21 for using a private automobile for moving expenses.
These rates are effective as of January 1, 2024. For reference, the rates for 2023 are also included on the Fingate Resource page.
On November 13, there will be several updates to the Credit Card Profiles Change Request tool in Oracle Financials to support processes such as exception requests, attaching documents, managing transaction limits, and reactivating suspended cards. They include:
- The expansion of the Exception Request section to include a PCard non-permissible exception request, when an urgent need arises. This change allows for faster turnaround time and more complete information to support the request.
- The ability to upload/attach documents to substantiate or support the change request or exception request being submitted.
- The option to permanently lower the per-transaction limit (for PCards only), if necessary, to minimize risk on a PCard.
- A new card reactivation and attestation process to reinstate a suspended card.
In order to support departments in purchasing software in a manner that safeguards the university and supports financial stewardship, FMS and University IT (UIT) have made recent updates to guidance and associated processes. These updates are documented in Topic Overview: Purchase Services and include the following changes:
Starting November 13, PCard holders must consult with their local IT team or department administrator before using the PCard to purchase software that is not available through the Software at Stanford website and does not require a contract. The PCard user must then attest that they consulted with their local IT team or department administrator in the verification process following the purchase.
This change replaces the current process that requires PCard users to submit an exception request to the Financial Management Services (FMS) Card Services team. The new process allows the PCard user’s local IT team or department administrator to conduct a pre-screening risk assessment of the software with regard to use of data, if necessary, which helps protect the data that the university is entrusted with.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) sets domestic per diem rates, effective Oct. 1 each year. The new per diem rates (searchable by city, state, or zip code) are now published; visit Domestic Per Diem Rates to access the rates.
For trips that took place prior to October 1, the previous rates can be accessed still by selecting “2023” from the drop down menu.
For more information on reimbursement methods (such as per diem vs. actuals), see Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies.
Purchasing Card (PCard) and Travel Card (TCard) cardholders who contact JPMorgan Chase to activate or ask questions about their card must provide different identifying information starting September 1, 2023.
When contacting JPMorgan Chase, the cardholder must provide the last four digits of their Stanford employee ID, rather than the last four digits of their Social Security Number (SSN), and their date of birth to verify their identity.
This change helps cardholders reduce the use of their SSNs for identification.
The employee ID number, also called the University ID, is listed on the employee ID card, on the electronic employee ID in the Stanford Mobile app, and available on Axess in the My Axess Profile section.
In an ongoing effort to improve and streamline the Stanford Purchasing Card (PCard) experience, and ensure compliance with purchasing practices and policies, several enhancements to the Purchasing Card module within Oracle Financials launched on July 17. They include:
- Updated Business Purpose to ensure all components of a Business Purpose are included
- Updated Receipt missing? and Are you sending backup documents? to modify how verifiers respond to these questions
- Updated Was correct sales tax paid? to include additional tax locations and appropriate instructions
- New drop-down menu in Does this purchase include a personal expense? to provide more details and instructions
- New Populate Approvers button adds approvers automatically
Additionally, to continually improve and support purchasing practices and policies that are compliant, responsible and appropriate, the suspension process for improper use will be updated in November.
Learn more about these changes in the Fingate Announcement PCard Module Enhancements and Suspension Process Changes.
The visitor travel policy letter template, which explains the university’s travel booking and reimbursement policies for Stanford visitors, has been updated and clarified as of June 30, 2023 to align with current travel policy.
The updated template includes expanded instructions and information for travel arrangers who work with visitors, including links to related resources and tax considerations for visitor travel reimbursements and payments.
The letter template is designed to be downloaded, customized as needed by the department, and shared with visitors to help them to book and be reimbursed for travel. The letter has been updated to align with business and travel expense policies that are currently published on Fingate. The updated sections cover:
- Which travel receipts visitors need to provide (Documentation Guidelines section)
- Type of transportation to choose, based on the distance traveled (Types of Transportation section)
- Class of airfare and route that is reimbursable (Airfare section)
- Policy for booking transportation to and from airports and rental cars (Ground Transportation section)
- Reimbursement policy for travel meals (Meals section)
- Tipping for meals and ground transportation (Tips and Gratuities section)
With few exceptions, expenses submitted more than 60 days after they were incurred will be reported as additional income to the individual, in accordance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines.
To prevent expenses from being treated as taxable income, a transaction must be prepared and submitted into the Expense Requests system in Oracle Financials with all appropriate receipts or backup documentation within 60 days after the end of travel (for travel expenses), the expense posted date (for non travel expenses), or expected clearing date (for advances).
When that timeline is not met, preparers are required to provide a reason and now also a written explanation on the Expense Request Review page.
This change helps Business Expense auditors understand the reason for the delay and allows them to review for an exception on late submissions at the time of audit. The goal of this process is to, where appropriate, reduce the number of 60-day tax letters sent to Payees.
The Review page in ERS was updated with this change in late May, and instructions are updated in How to Create Expense Report for SU Payees and How to Create Expense Report for non-SU Payees (Visitor Reimbursement).
Previously, the Business Expense team was called the Travel and Reimbursement team (T&R). References to “Travel & Reimbursement (T&R)” have been replaced with the name “Business Expense” in most sections of Oracle Financials. These terms refer to the same team within FMS. This central team, a part of Financial Management Services, is responsible for administering policies and reviewing and processing transactions for business and travel expenses.