Travel expense management

Everything you need to know about managing employee travel expenses

August 21, 2019
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Your sales employees are always on the move. But do you know what slows them down? - Expense reporting!

As sales folks, they may incur a varied range of expenses. Some everyday business expenses incurred are transportation, dining, accommodation, and other miscellaneous expenses. But if your company expense reporting software is broken, it can affect your employees’ productivity.

A study conducted by GBTA states that:

 “Business travel is estimated to grow to $1.6 trillion in annual spends by the year 2020.”

This means that you can no longer take your business expenses and employee travel expenses lightly. But does your business efficiently manage these expenses? In this article, we look into the key elements that constitute employee travel expenses. Additionally, we understand the protocol behind qualifying these business expenses.

What are employee travel expenses?

Any business expenses incurred towards a specific business goal completion are known as employee travel expenses. This goal can be a regular client meeting, a closing of a business deal, or even your employees attending a business-related seminar. 

As a business looking to streamline their business processes, it is crucial you consistently keep a tab of your company business spends. Additionally, insights into these spending patterns and trends can help you cut and optimize costs for your business.


How can expense policy compliance benefit your business?

How to leverage business expense report analytics for organizational success?

When are employee travel expenses considered valid? 

As per IRS regulations, a business spend is considered valid if: 

  • It is an ordinary business spend: This type of expense is one that is widely accepted in the industry as a business spend.
  • It is a necessary business spend: This type of expense is one that is considered necessary for the growth of the business.

Types of employee travel expenses incurred on a business trip:


The above are the primary types of business travel expenses incurred by your employees while on a business trip. These expenses can happen either via cash advances provided by the company, using corporate credit cards or prepaid cards, or employees using their own money. 

Every state has defined laws and regulations on employee expense reimbursements and standard mileage rates. Ensure you have an accountable plan to stay compliant at all times. Additionally, ensure you have the right type of customized fields in your expense report template in an attempt to remain compliant.

The process of expense reimbursement for employee travel expenses? 

Expense reimbursement is the process in which the employer repays the employee for any business expenses incurred by him or her during the business trip. 

On completing the business trip, the employee needs to report these expenses on an expense report form provided by the employer or the finance team. Once the employee fills in these details, the approver or reporting manager also needs to validate these entries. 

The fields entered in an expense report play an important role in streamlining your business processes. Using these fields, finance teams can cross-check and validate the entries found on the expense report form.


How to track expenses on an expense report form?

How to effectively track Per Diems in an expense report form?

How can businesses track mileage using an expense report form?

Once approved by the finance team, the particular expense report is approved and sent across for payment processing. Care must be taken by the finance teams and employers to ensure that the employee travel expenses comply with the IRS regulations. 

An expense report is accepted and pushed into the expense reimbursement cycle only if it has a direct and clear business agenda behind it. Once processed, the employer is deducted 50% of the cost, and the employees are ideally reimbursed 100% of the expenses incurred by them.

Measures to keep in mind while evaluating employee travel expenses:

  • Document the purpose behind the spends: To stay compliant with the IRS, all business spends in the expense report needs to have a clear connection with a business goal.
  • Document valid receipts for business spends: As per the regulations, your reimbursable employees need to produce bills if they exceed a particular limit. But, as a best practice, always collect receipts as evidence of business expense claims.
  • Tally claimed business spends with expense reports: For cash advances, the employee needs to document and submit all the business expenses incurred. Unused money needs to be given back to the finance teams. This is done to avoid the balance amount from becoming taxable income for the employees.

As an essential means to stay compliant, businesses should:

  1. Have an accountable plan which documents everything regarding your business expenses per IRS regulations.
  2. Companies must have a well-defined travel and expense policy.
  3. Companies should work towards effectively communicating the policy with the employees. This helps them understand their spending limits according to their designations or nature of work. 
  4. Companies should document expense claims with the corresponding evidence of spends.


How to create an accountable plan for reimbursing employee travel expenses?

How to create an IRS compliant expense reimbursement policy

Using non-reimbursable entries in expense reports

A complete guide to claiming mileage tax deduction

Employee travel expenses and expense management:

Not staying compliant may not only put you in trouble but can also result in these expenses becoming taxable income.

While a traditional expense report may graze the surface, an automated expense management software can do much more! Fyle helps you monitor and approve spends on-the-go. Additionally, you can access data to all employee spends under one dashboard. Also, Fyle’s real-time policy engine ensures no employee expense claims burn a hole in your pocket. 

Increase internal compliance and financial productivity of your organization with Fyle. Schedule a demo to understand how Fyle can address your expense management needs.

Effortless expense management for all business spends. Earned time, saved costs, improved productivity, happy employees - achieve it all with a single software.

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