I Objective and overview
The diocesan policy on business expenses is designed to be fair, consistent, and ensure the prudent use of the diocesan funds, as well as follow all pertinent tax regulations. Expenses must have a clear business purpose consistent with the image of a professional organization. Good judgment is expected before incurring any expense on behalf of the diocese. Representatives of the diocese (employees and volunteers) are expected to use discretion and “do the right thing” if a situation arises that is not covered by this policy.
This policy defines the process required for business expense reimbursement to ensure expenses incurred are within diocesan good business standards, properly supported with required documentation, appropriately approved by the Bishop or the Bishop’s designee, and reimbursed in a timely manner.
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in delays or withholding of reimbursement. Any expenses charged on a diocesan-issued credit card not in compliance with this policy will need to be repaid to the diocese no later than 30 days after identifying the expense.
Accuracy in reporting and documenting expenses is essential. Business expenses must meet extensive record-keeping requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS can disallow a deduction for a business expense if the representative fails to submit adequate records to support the expense resulting in taxable income to the representative and in some cases, the representative will be held liable for the expense. The diocese assumes no obligation to reimburse representatives for expenses not in compliance with this policy or deemed not to be a necessary business expense. Any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding this expense policy may be directed to the Treasurer or Finance Administrator.
Expenses incurred by Deputies and staff members representing the diocese at General Conventions of The Episcopal Church will be covered in a separate and unique policy.
II Categories of expenses
All travel outside of the diocese will ordinarily be detailed in the diocese’s Plan for Ministry (aka the annual Budget), and approval of the Plan for Ministry by act of Convention will also approve the travel plan for the fiscal year. Additional, non-budgeted travel outside of the Diocese must be approved by the Diocesan Council before travel arrangements are made.
The Diocese does not pay for family members to accompany diocesan representatives except in limited instances as preapproved by Diocesan Council.
2. Air travel:
In preparing to travel, representatives must:
- Book the lowest airfare possible
- Consider alternative airports (within 50 miles) for departure and arrival cities
- Consider taking a route with one connection that does not exceed a 90-minute layover
- Consider arrival and departure times within 2 hours before and after the originally desired time (To offset scheduling inconvenience, the savings in this instance should be at least $150)
- Checked baggage fees are reimbursable when traveling on diocesan business
- Travel insurance should be purchased for all international travel
It is suggested that representatives consider:
- Booking airfare early to take advantage of advance purchase discounts. Early booking discounts generally begin at 3 days prior to departure and increase incrementally at 7, 14 and 21 days,
- Not using a travel agency due to the added expense of agency commissions,
- Purchasing nonrefundable tickets as those tickets provide the lowest fare.
Class of Service:
Travelers are expected to fly in coach class at all times. Upgrades to business or first class may be allowed in the following instances:
- When approved by the Bishop or Diocesan Council,
- When the representative upgrades at his or her personal expense or when redeeming personal “frequent flyer” points/miles to acquire the upgrade. The representative shall not reject a lower coach fare in order to purchase a ticket class that is upgradable,
- When first class fare is not more expensive than the lowest available coach fare.
Travelers are required to:
- Stay in the moderate price range — average cost per night of $120,
- Ask about promotional or special rates including AAA, AARP, etc. at the time of check in,
- Use (when lodging in the Springfield, MO area) the diocesan apartment (based on availability); the Bishop’s Executive Assistant is the contact for reserving the diocesan apartment.
About Hotel Charges:
- Movie rentals, video game rentals, mini bar charges, honor bar charges, etc. are not business expenses and will not be reimbursed.
- In the interest of health, reasonable hotel fitness club fees will be reimbursed.
- Internet connections for the purpose of conducting Diocesan business are reimbursable.
Room Guarantee and Hotel Cancellation Procedures:
- Hotel rooms should be guaranteed for late arrival, and cancellations should be made before the time limit shown on the itinerary (usually between 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. local time of the property) to avoid “no show” charges.
- Should trip cancellations be out of the representative’s control, reimbursement for “no-show” charges will be reviewed for approval by the Finance Administrator or Bishop.
Hotel Payment Procedures:
- Hotel expenses will be paid using the representative’s personal charge card or a diocese-issued charge card.
- A detailed hotel receipt (folio) itemizing all charges must be submitted with the expense report.
- No addendum will be accepted as a replacement for a hotel receipt/folio, as the IRS requires the actual receipt. If a receipt is lost or not available at the time of check out, the representative must contact the hotel to obtain an actual receipt.
4. Rental Cars; Personal Vehicles; Diocese-owned Vehicles:
The maximum car reimbursement for travel will be the lesser of the cost of a rental car plus fuel purchases or the personal mileage reimbursement. This does not apply to diocese-owned Vehicles.
- Travelers should rent a car when the cost of a rental car plus fuel purchases is less than public transportation or the personal mileage reimbursement rate.
- Travelers are expected to be safety conscious and cost-effective in their choice of rental car size and shall not rent cars above the full size category.
- The diocese has been approved to receive a 5% discount on Enterprise or National car rentals when using the link or corporate code below. Any member or parish of the diocese may use this discount for business or personal travel. To make a reservation with either Enterprise or National click on this link. Travelers may also book directly on the Enterprise and National websites with the corporate number XZL0504; the three digit pin is GOB.
- The diocese is self-insured; therefore travelers should decline all rental car insurance coverages offered by the rental car company.
- Before accepting a vehicle, inspect it for damage and note damage on the contract before leaving the lot.
- Renters are expected to return the car to the place it was picked up to avoid additional drop-off charges and, prior to returning the rental, to refill with fuel to reduce the cost of fuel. Do not use the prepaid fuel option.
- Representatives may use their personal car for business purposes to save significant time and/or expense, but adequate insurance coverage should be in force for traveler and passenger protection. Travelers will be reimbursed for business use of personal cars based on the IRS rate per mile at the time of the expense.
- The diocese will not reimburse a representative for any repairs resulting from business travel, for normal commute mileage, or for fuel purchased for their personal car.
- For reimbursement of personal car use for business, travelers must complete a mileage log to record the date, destination, business purpose, and mileage for each trip.
- Submit the mileage reimbursement log along with related receipts for tolls and parking with an expense reimbursement request.
- In certain situations, it is advantageous for the diocese to provide a vehicle to an employee for diocese-related work.
- The employee is responsible for keeping track of and reporting quarterly to the diocese any use of the diocese-owned vehicle for personal mileage.
- Commuting to and from the workplace is considered personal mileage.
- Personal use of the vehicle is a taxable employee benefit per IRS publication 15-B.
- For reporting purposes, the diocese uses the Lease Value Rule. Each quarter the personal use percentage of miles will be used to determine the annual lease value of the vehicle using Table 3-1 of IRS publication 15-B.
- To account for diocese provided gasoline, personal mileage will be reimbursed by the employee using the rate indicated on page 28 of IRS Publication 15-B, which is
5. Meals While Traveling
- Traveling representatives will only be reimbursed for personal meal expenses when an overnight stay is involved or when traveling out of town (over 99 miles one way) for the day.
- No breakfast expense on the day of departure from home or dinner on the day of return (unless the return time is after 9 pm) will be reimbursed.
- The daily meal reimbursement is based on a 3 meal guideline: $8 for breakfast, $12 for lunch, and $25 for dinner. The diocese does not reimburse for snacks purchased during travel. Purchases of alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable.
- An itemized receipt is required for all meal expense. If a restaurant is unable to provide a receipt with its pre-printed name and address, an addendum and proof of payment is required.
6. Miscellaneous travel matters:
- Waiters: 15 – 20% of the pre-tax amount of the bill; include the tip with the meal charge on the credit card.
- Taxi/Limo/Shuttle Bus: 10 – 15% of the fare; add to the fare on the receipt.
- Bellhop/Porters/Airport curbside check-in: $1.00 per bag
- Hotel Maid: $5 per day
Travelers will be reimbursed for reasonable laundry expenses if the representative is away from home for at least five (5) consecutive workdays or when unusual circumstances make these services necessary. Receipts must be attached for all laundry charges.
Seminars Sponsored by Other Organizations:
- Fees associated with registration for or attendance at conventions, meetings, and seminars sponsored by outside organizations are reimbursable if pre-approved by the diocese’s Finance Administrator or the Bishop.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules require that the diocese report separately the cost of meals associated with such events. To comply with this regulation, representatives attending such events must complete their expense reports as follows:
- Record the portion of the cost relating to meals separately on the expense reimbursement form.
- Record remaining event costs under “Training, Seminars, and Conventions”.
Cash advances are granted on a very limited basis. A representative seeking a cash advance will submit a request for approval prior to the trip. The cash advance must be included and reconciled on the expense report submitted at the close of the trip. Cash advances will be approved by the Finance Administrator or the Bishop.
When traveling to other countries and foreign currency is used as a form of payment, convert the currency into US dollars. Print out the conversion rate into US dollars with a date no later than 2 weeks from your last date of expenses being submitted. To do so, go to a currency conversion site such as: this.
B. Business Entertaining Expenses
- The diocese will reimburse reasonable and necessary business meal or entertainment expenditures incurred by representatives fulfilling their responsibilities.
- When multiple representatives of the diocese are present at a business function, the most senior representative present should pay and expense the bill.
- The meals of family members accompanying the representative will be reimbursed only when approved by the diocese’s Finance Administrator or the Bishop, in advance if possible.
- Meals should be paid for with the representative’s personal charge card or Diocese-issued charge card.
- To comply with IRS substantiation rules, the following information must be detailed on the expense reimbursement request:
- Name and business relationship of person(s) in attendance,
- Business purpose and/or subjects discussed,
- Name of establishment, date of entertainment/meal, and amount.
- Every expense must have a purpose clearly connected to the business of the diocese and meet IRS requirements.
- If in the course of entertaining it is appropriate (for the purpose of providing hospitality) to purchase alcoholic beverages, reimbursement will not exceed 2 drinks per person. If possible, preapproval from the Bishop or Finance Administrator is recommended.
C. Non-allowable Expenses
- Capital or equipment expenditures. For these purchases, submit a purchase request to receive pre-approval from the Finance Administrator.
- Tuition reimbursement. Submit proper documentation to the diocese for pre-approval.
- Charitable contributions or sponsorships without prior approval of Bishop or Finance Administrator.
- Rent or extended stay housing payments. Pre-approval is required for recurring payments.
- First class upgrades except as stated in the Travel section of this policy.
- Personal medical or dental expenses, barber, manicurist, masseur, etc.
- Personal entertainment: theater, concerts, movies, sporting events, golf, tennis, reading materials, video games, etc.
- Personal items such as clothing, under garments, shoes, socks, briefcases, toiletries, medications, blankets, etc. (Even if needed or used while on business, personal items do not qualify as business expense.)
- Traffic fines, towing, court costs, etc.
- Replacement or reimbursement of personal property lost, stolen, or damaged (sun glasses, cell phones, etc.)
- House, baby, or pet sitting fees.
- Spouse or other family members’ expenses except under certain circumstances that have been pre-approved.
- Club or other membership dues unless budgeted and pre-approved.
- Annual fees or any other costs/fees for personal credit cards including any charges resulting from misuse or lost/stolen cards.
- Costs associated with trip extensions or side trips for personal reasons.
III Expense Reporting
- Business expenses must meet record keeping requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS can disallow the deductions for business expenses if a representative fails to submit adequate records in support of the expense. This could result in taxable income to the representative and in certain cases the representative being held liable for the expense. The diocese assumes no obligation to reimburse representatives for expenses not in compliance with this policy.
- Expense reports and requests for reimbursement should be processed via forms available on the diocesan website.
- Representatives are expected to file expense reports within 15 days after completion of each month or for each trip.
- Expenses older than 60 days will not be reimbursed.
- Volunteer expenses must be approved by the Chair of the Committee or Commission for expenditures from the budgeted account line item.
- Representatives are not authorized to approve their own expenses or those of a superior.
- The Finance Administrator or the Assistant Finance Administrator (if assigned) will review each representative’s expense report for calculation accuracy, policy compliance, business purpose,
and proper supporting documents and receipts. All out-of-compliance expense reports will be placed on hold and not paid until corrected.
- Reimbursement will be processed in the next check run after receipt of an expense report accompanied by accurate information, proper documentation, and appropriate approvals.
- All expenses must be clearly and correctly described on the representative’s expense reimbursement report.
- The business purpose of the expense, including the names of all attendees must be clearly stated. If there is not sufficient room, a detailed description should be attached.
- Receipts must include the name of the vendor, location, date, and dollar amount. Restaurant tear tabs are not acceptable. Receipts must not be altered. If the detail of the receipt is not clear an addendum must be attached.
- An itemized hotel receipt is required for all hotel stays.
- The original receipt completed by the vendor is required; hand written substitutes will not be accepted.
- A receipt is required for all meals.
- All tips should be included with the expense: tips for meals added to restaurant receipt, tips to the cab driver on cab receipt, etc.
- Charge card billing statements and personal checks are not acceptable as receipts unless accompanied by an approved addendum explaining why no individual receipt was available.
- IRS-approved E-ticket Receipts or Electronic Invoices that show the flight destination/departure cities, dollar amounts and ticket number(s) are acceptable.
- If a receipt is lost or not available, an addendum explaining the expense, why there is no receipt, and proof of payment must be submitted for approval by the Finance Administrator or the Bishop.
- All internet receipts must indicate proof of payment or have an addendum attached.
IV Credit Cards
Credit cards issued by the diocese will be provided to staff members as approved by the Finance Committee. Diocesan credit cards are a privilege and must not be used for personal expenses. Cash advances and gift card purchases are not allowed. Staff members are expected to submit credit card receipts within 2 weeks of receiving a copy of the billing statement from the Finance Administrator or the Finance Assistant.
Receipts must comply with the requirements mentioned throughout this Accountable Business Expense Policy. The Treasurer or member of the Finance Committee shall quarterly review the reconciled credit card account detail and receipts for compliance.
The Finance Committee maintains the right to suspend or terminate the credit card privilege of any staff member.