Business Procedures Manual

Essential business procedural components for University System of Georgia institutions.

4.3 Per Diem Allowance for Meals

(Last Modified on June 21, 2019)

Per diem allowance refers to the maximum food allowance for which employees can be reimbursed per day. The amount is not a reimbursement of actual expenses incurred and receipts are not required for meal per diem amounts. Employees may only receive per diem for meals occurring while officially on travel status based on the number of meals per day for which the employee is eligible.

See Sections 4.1 through 4.5 of the Statewide Travel Policy for guidance on appropriate amounts to reimburse for per diem for meals.

Although Statewide Travel Policy 4.5 allows for meal per diem during non-overnight travel when employees travel more than 50 miles from their residence and primary workstation on a work assignment AND are away for more than twelve (12) hours, the USG does not provide meal per diem during non-overnight travel due to the IRS taxable compensation implications. Please note that institutions that have a high volume of non-overnight travel for a specific group of employees can request a waiver from the Office of Fiscal Affairs to reimburse per diem for meals for these employees, however, approved waivers will require the institution to ensure that reimbursement of these expenses are included as taxable compensation for the applicable employees in accordance with IRS regulations.

Use the State of Georgia Meal Allowance document on SAO’s Statewide Travel Policy website to access daily meal limits for travel within the State of Georgia, including high cost areas. High cost areas are areas within Georgia in which meal expenses may be reimbursed at a higher amount than limits that otherwise apply to travel within Georgia. Increased per diem allowances are available in certain counties designated as high-cost areas. The high-cost areas in Georgia and the current high-cost rates for these areas are located on the Meal Allowance Schedule of the SAO Travel website.

Use the Link to GSA Per Diem Rates on SAO’s Statewide Travel Policy website to access per diem rates for Out of State travel.

Notes and Other Per Diem Items:

  1. For out of state travel - travelers are eligible for only 75% of the total day’s per diem rate on the first and last day of travel.
  2. The per diem allowance must be adjusted for any meals provided to the traveler. Note: For out of state travel - when meals are provided to a traveler in conjunction with travel events on a travel departure or return day, the full day per diem is reduced by the amount of the provided meal(s) after the 75% proration. For example, if the per diem allows a $28 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost on a travel departure or return day, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $14 [$28 *.75= $21 less $7 lunch = $14.00].
  3. If a traveler has medical restrictions and cannot eat a provided meal, the traveler does not have to deduct the amount. The traveler must include a note or other documentation with Travel Expense Reimbursement.
  4. Separate reimbursement for taxes and tips associated with meal expenses are not authorized as the meal per diem is intended to cover the total cost of the employee’s meal including taxes and tips.
  5. Employees only may receive per diem for meals occurring while officially on travel status.
  6. Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for meal expenses incurred during the period of leave.
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