Columbia University employees (faculty or students) and visitors to the University can be reimbursed by PER for valid business and research-related expenses. Expenses must provide a clear benefit to the University and be necessary and reasonable. Please find below information relevant to submitting reimbursement receipts. For a complete overview of Columbia University’s TBER policies, please visit the Finance Gateway. All questions related to reimbursements within the Economics department should be directed to email@example.com.
- General Information
- Faculty and Student Reimbursements
- Visitor Reimbursements
- Any individual incurring the travel expense must be familiar with Departmental policies and this University policy in order to ensure compliance and prudent spending of University funds.
- Columbia University reimburses two main types of expenses: business expenses and travel expenses. Please review Columbia’s official travel and business expense policies.
- Business expenses are costs accrued locally (in the New York City area)
- Travel expenses involve leaving the New York City area and include an overnight stay
- In order to be reimbursed for travel and business expenses for PER-related events or funds, faculty, students, and visitors to the University must submit to firstname.lastname@example.org a completed TBER Form. Please also submit receipts (see below). Review the TBER Instructions printable for additional info.
- A completed reimbursement application should be submitted in a timely manner, ideally within 10 days of your last travel or business expense.
- Receipts received by the department after 120 days of the last expense date may be considered taxable income.
- Provide a conference flyer, seminar announcement, invitation letter, or other document to confirm the business purpose.
- Incomplete or poorly documented receipts may delay processing. Submissions that are not in accordance with University policy will not be reimbursed.
- If you have any questions about acceptable TBER expenses, please review the Reimbursable & Non-Reimbursable Expenses cheat sheet or contact PER at email@example.com.
- All submitted receipts must be itemized and indicate a completed transaction (proof of payment, for example “cash” or “Mastercard xxxx”)
- If a receipt does not show proof of payment, please provide a credit card statement as supporting documentation (redact all sensitive bank information)
- When submitting your TBER, scan your receipts into a single pdf. Number each receipt in chronological order and in order of the expenses noted on your TBER report.
- If you do not have a receipt, submit and complete the Missing Receipts Worksheet
Columbia University will only issue reimbursements in US dollars. When completing your TBER form, please use a currency converter (for example, www.oanda.com). Conversions must be consistent with the date of the expense
- Provide an itemized receipt, showing all items purchased, and ensure proof of payment is noted
- Provide the names of all individuals at the meal
- Identify alcohol purchased, or write “no alcohol” if the receipt is not itemized
- Alcohol is a segregated expense, and must be placed in the “segregated” column
- Meals are limited to three per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner); snacks and coffee/tea/refreshments will not be reimbursed
- Limits (per person, excluding tax & tip):
- Breakfast – $25
- Lunch – $35
- Dinner – $75
- Any meal expense exceeding the threshold will be automatically reduced to comply with these limits.
- Always purchase the lowest cost economy ticket, unless there is a documented condition necessitating and upgrade
- Upgrades to business or first class travel are considered “segregated”, and are not always reimbursable
- If upgrades are necessary and allowable, at the time of booking obtain a quote for a round-trip economy flight, and submit with your purchased ticket.
- Ensure proof of payment is clearly visible
- Note that websites such as Expedia often show only an “estimated fare” or “quote”; this is not a valid proof of payment.
- If using a federal grant (NSF, NSA, DoD, etc.) you must comply with Fly America / Open Skies Act, which generally requires use of a US based air carrier. Please contact PER at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
- Travel extensions for personal reasons requires additional documentation, or travel will not be reimbursed. Please consult the department before purchasing tickets involving extended stays.
- Clearly document changes in travel plans, or other unusual circumstances.
- Local transportation should specify origin and destination (e.g., taxi from airport to hotel)
- Car rentals should be purchased through Hertz when possible, using Columbia account CDP# 254158
- When using Hertz, DO NOT purchase Liability or other insurance from the agency. Loss/Damage Waiver and Liability Insurance is included under the Columbia contract. Insurance may be reimbursed from other vendors, if Hertz is not available.
- Provide a copy of the rental agreement with proof of payment.
- Mileage on personal vehicles may be claimed as a reimbursable expense. Gas, maintenance, or repairs are not eligible for reimbursement when using a personal vehicle.
- Provide a digital map of your origin and destination points, including total miles.
- List this expense as “Personal vehicle mileage” on your reimbursement form as a line item. For 2019 travel, calculate your mileage reimbursement using the following formula: Total miles * 0.580 = $ amt.
- Obtain an itemized receipt with proof of payment noted upon checkout
- The cap rate on domestic hotels is $350 per night. For international stays, the cap is $400 per night.
- Most expenses are “Unsegregated”. Common “Segregated” expenses include:
- First or business class travel upgrades (the cost above an economy flight. An economy quote for the same itinerary and travel dates MUST be submitted along with the purchased upgrade)
- Expenses above Meal and Lodging thresholds (see above)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Segregated expenses cannot be charged to federal grants and may require additional approvals before reimbursements can be issued.
- Complete TBER Form (TBER) as soon as possible after your travels
- Conference flyer, seminar announcement, invitation letter, etc.
- Receipts and supporting documentation (see above)
- For missing receipts, complete the Missing Receipts Worksheet
- Submit to email@example.com and allow a few weeks for processing
Prior to requesting a reimbursement, all non-U.S. citizens should confirm their eligibility for payment. If you are in a category such a “J-1 Researcher, Professor category not on Columbia’s sponsorship”, work authorization from your home institution should be obtained prior to requesting reimbursement. Typically this is a letter from your sponsoring institution that acknowledges that the travel is related to your visa program and provides permission to receive travel reimbursement and/or honorarium. After confirming you are eligible to receive payment, submit the following:
- Non-employee Expense Worksheet (all visitors)
- Copy of passport ID page
- Copy of visa or most recent I-94 entry status
- Work authorization letter (if required, based on visa status)
- Provide the appropriate tax form, supporting documentation, and non-employee expense worksheet (see above). List each expense you are submitting, one item per line.
- Expenses in foreign currency must be converted to US Dollars. Refer to the Foreign Currency section above.
- Refer to the receipts section above to ensure proper organization of your paperwork.
- Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Allow several weeks for processing.
- Your reimbursement will come in the form of a check to the address listed on your W8/W9.
About Tax Forms
- If you are only receiving travel reimbursement (transportation, meals, lodging) for itemized receipts, this is not considered income and is not taxed. However, Columbia still requires a tax form on file to comply with IRS regulations.
- Note: Do not submit the statement for non-resident alien payments or IRS Form 8233 if you are only receiving travel reimbursement.
Please refer to the above information prior to filling out the appropriate form.
- Tax Documents
- W9 (US Persons ONLY)
- W8-BEN (International persons ONLY)
- Non-Employee Expense Worksheet
- Missing Receipts Worksheet
- Travel Expense Policy
- Business Expense Policy
- Reimbursable & Non-Reimbursable Expenses
- Currency Converter (www.oanda.com)