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Company Expenses

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Bolthead

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Last week my wife went to Melbourne for a conference. She is in the medical game and 2 staff members are picked every year to attend. I am interested in other peoples opinions as to the extent of what expenses do their company normally pickup. I have always had all expenses from airfares, accommodation, transfers (normally taxis or hire cars) all meals (even snacks), paid for by the company.

Prior to her leaving I questioned her on 2 points. Why are they making you fly Jetstar ($30 cheaper than Virgin) and although the accommodation was good why is it a good 25 minute walk from the conference when there is plenty of accommodation within 5-10 minute walk to the conference. (which I think is reasonable) Also bare in mind that this company has very little air travel for staff. (I think this conference is about it for the year) My wife ended up paying the difference and flew VA. The company only paid for the airfares, accommodation and cost of the conference. All other costs are at your expense.

It came to a head when she told me that they (both females) walked back to their hotel (late at approx. 10:30pm) because the company would refuse to pay for a taxi. I said that's ludicrous as the company has a duty of care towards their staff and especially at night.

What do others think.... I am being unreasonable? Am I the only other person that thinks this way or have I been lucky for the last 30 years of my career.
 

harvyk

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JQ is fair enough (BFOD policy no doubt), but the cost of transport between airport / hotel / conference is a given. Meals are also something which is usually expected that the company should provide. So this is extremely poor form.
 
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Warks

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Sounds pretty poor treatment. If it happened to be a charity then maybe but not if it's a company earning good money. I'm guessing certain employees at the company see such trips as 'holidays' and think staff are lucky to get them. All meals and transport to and from the conference should be covered. If there was a side trip to go shopping, visit friends etc then that should be paid for by the employee. There's a grey zone where you are travelling but have dinner with a friend. By rights your meal should be paid for (not your friend's) but try splitting your bill at some places!

It's a bit of a joke when you see how some people rort expenses (not looking at any politicians...) - at one place I worked there were senior sales managers who got the company to pay for visits to strip clubs etc as they were "entertaining clients". Not the sort of company I wanted to be part of.
 

blackcat20

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No unreasonable at all. I work for a not-for-profit and cabs, meals etc are all covered.
 

markis10

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On the bright side, your wife should be able to claim back all costs at the ATO rates if the employee doesn't come to the party (although talk to your accountant before doing so) -> TD 2014/19 - Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2014-15 income year? (As at 9 July 2014)

(we use this document as the guiding star for pretty much all our travel)

The expenses could not be claimed on tax as per that document, its only applicable if the employee is paid a travel or overtime allowance.
 

MrHyde

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I think it depends upon how much travel the company has. I've noticed that organisations where travel is very rare, they don't know what an appropriate travel coverage should be. The same happened to my wife where they only covered airfare and hotel. Even the taxi to the airport was not covered and I made her raise it as an issue and it was re-imbursed after she made a stink about it.

I have also worked for organisations that would state accommodation and taxi to /from airport is provided plus per diems for meals, etc; but they did not provide taxis to/fro hotel and work place. In those cases, we were expected to pick a hotel within walking distance (which I classify as 5-10 minutes walk). If hotel was not available, I'd get a written exemption prior to agreeing to the travel.,
 

harvyk

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The expenses could not be claimed on tax as per that document, its only applicable if the employee is paid a travel or overtime allowance.

Good point, my post has now been edited.
 

Moopere

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I think that there is an ongoing effort by some, perhaps many, businesses these days to see just how far they can push employees before they get a form of revolt due to unreasonableness.

Back 10-12-14 years ago when I first started travelling for work business class was the norm, even for minor employees like myself (I wasn't a CEO or senior manager or anything). Even domestic, say PER-SYD or PER-MEL, definitely PER-BNE was usually ticketed J. Very short flights usually were not, so MEL-SYD or SYD-BNE would be QF Y, usually flexi. At this time, unbelievably now looking back, if one were sent O/S for 3-4 weeks or longer it was also a given that you would be invited to take your spouse along.

But the GFC came, and in fact, if I remember correctly even a couple of years prior to the 'formal' GFC timeline, things started changing and significantly so. I still remember some bitter arguments between staff and management about whether time spent travelling was time spent 'working' and could/should be charged back to the company. ie; if you spend most of a Sunday travelling to be ready for work Monday morning, should that Sunday be compensated (time in lieu or paid)? This ultimately resolved itself after a fair bit of bad blood by employees en-masse refusing to fly outside of 8am-5pm timeframes. Management got their way ... or at least never agreed to compensation, but it backfired and in the end no-one was really happy.

So, again, back in the day, it was assumed, and practised, that every reasonable cost incurred whilst away would be claimed. Taxi, food, snacks, drinks, hotel, flight, laundry at hotels. There was policy surrounding this to curb the worst abuse, so, for example, a bottle of wine with dinner was fine, two bottles was not (for example). Even telephone calls home were covered.

I always felt that a per diem payment would be the best way to keep everyone happy. Say to employees that you will pay them perhaps $200-300 per day with the expectation that no incidental costs would then be claimed separately (flight/hotel covered by company via direct invoicing).

In any event, near the time of my finishing up with this business it was common to have to have a serious conversation with PM's or managers before agreeing to go anywhere. If the package was JQ + motel + no food and no time compensation then I'd decline. But its a method of divide and conquer management technique because they would then do the rounds of those employees qualified to do the end job and at least some of the time someone would accept, so the bar got lower and lower and lower.
 

Warks

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Does anyone still do the per diem allowance? Used to get that in a govt job. I remember staff used to sleep in cars and eat Maccas to keep as much of the per diem in their pocket as possible. Not me.
 

Moopere

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Does anyone still do the per diem allowance? Used to get that in a govt job. I remember staff used to sleep in cars and eat Maccas to keep as much of the per diem in their pocket as possible. Not me.

I haven't seen it in practise now for many many years. I always thought it was a good system. For those who felt the need, yes, sleep in your rental car and eat potatoes you boil in the radiator :), your choice entirely. I had a good mate who used to exist on toasties and strawberry jam whilst away to save a few bob and pocket the bulk of the per diem. For mine, I could choose to do what I wanted which was often leaning the other way and I'd be happy to chip in myself as I felt the 'goodwill' from the company was indeed good.

Perhaps something company taxation wise changed? I suspect so.
 

MrHyde

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Does anyone still do the per diem allowance? Used to get that in a govt job. I remember staff used to sleep in cars and eat Maccas to keep as much of the per diem in their pocket as possible. Not me.

Per Diem is very common in the IT jobs I've worked in the last decade. Our Per Diem only covers meals and incidentals. Accommadation is still paid by the company. I know some Govt Depts don't pay per diem and require actual receipts, but other departments, we work on a per diem basis. Actual receipts just adds so much admin overhead as opposed to $60 - $80 per day whether you've spent it or not.
 

cmon0005

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I would expect and all companies I have worked for in the past that an employee should be no worse off having to travel than not having to travel.
I am however sensible when travelling on company expense, things I normally claim or are already paid for by the company (even a small company should cover these as basic, except maybe (3) where LCC can be substituted or all economy:

1.) per km reimbursement from home to airport for driving and return (cheaper than taxi)
2.) Airport parking (Normally book in advance using promo deals)
3.) Flights (Economy Full service carrier for domestic and short haul, Business for International travel greater than 7 hours)
3.1- Visas, vaccinations
4.) Airport transfers to hotel, (whether that be hotel pickup in developing countries, or taxi in developed country)
5.) Breakfast, lunch and dinner (Lunch I normally pay for myself as I am out and about)
6.) Transfers to/from office/conference venue etc. unless close by
7.) Transfer back to airport

Any other costs I usually wear myself, such as:
1.) Alcoholic drinks
2.) Shopping/dinners with friends
3.) Private phone calls
etc.
 
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TomVexille

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Per Diem is very common in the IT jobs I've worked in the last decade. Our Per Diem only covers meals and incidentals. Accommadation is still paid by the company.

Sounds similar to the deal at my company. If we're required to travel to customers sites, accommodation goes on the Corporate Amex and we still get a decent meal/LAFHA allowance to compensate for being away. Our current corporate deal is with QF so all flight are to be booked on QF. If one of the tech's flys, they drive their company car to the airport and pay for parking with the corp Amex or the company pays for a cab.
 

harvyk

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Does anyone still do the per diem allowance? Used to get that in a govt job. I remember staff used to sleep in cars and eat Maccas to keep as much of the per diem in their pocket as possible. Not me.

We still do, in accordance with the ATO reasonable rates. Manager says that whilst he might be able to save a dollar or two by insisting on receipts for everything, the admin overhead would almost certainly wipe that savings out.

We get an allowance for hotels / meals and incidentals. Anything beyond that (eg taxi's) we need to keep a receipt for.
I have to admit, my next trip I've just put the hotel onto the company CC. Whilst I could have prob gotten an extra $70 in my pocket had I taken the hotel as part of my pay, the bank isn't always the fastest at transferring my allowance in, there have been a couple of times that I haven't been sure I'll actually have money to pay for my hotel until just before check in (eg the money finally hit my account at 4pm and I was going to check in at 5pm).
 

medhead

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The expenses could not be claimed on tax as per that document, its only applicable if the employee is paid a travel or overtime allowance.

The allowance only effects the substantiation requirements. They can still claim their expenses provided they have the required evidence as per that document.

Could it be argued that paying for the hotel is a travel allowance, based on that document listing hotel and meal amounts? :?:
(I don't know the answer to this, just interested in opinions)
 

markis10

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The allowance only effects the substantiation requirements. They can still claim their expenses provided they have the required evidence as per that document.

You must be getting an allowance to use the substantiation methods in that document, otherwise normal rules apply.
 

BAM1748

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I can have it either way as we can decide on a trip by trip basis, we have some staff taking a per diem which is usually what the lower paid staff take. I have never taken this and always go with collecting my receipts. But I don't worry about snacks, coffees etc between meals.

Matt
 

SeatBackForward

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It came to a head when she told me that they (both females) walked back to their hotel (late at approx. 10:30pm) because the company would refuse to pay for a taxi. I said that's ludicrous as the company has a duty of care towards their staff and especially at night.

What do others think.... I am being unreasonable? Am I the only other person that thinks this way or have I been lucky for the last 30 years of my career.

Absolutely agree that if it was work related trip, they should cover taxis at that time of night.
 

BAM1748

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It came to a head when she told me that they (both females) walked back to their hotel (late at approx. 10:30pm) because the company would refuse to pay for a taxi. I said that's ludicrous as the company has a duty of care towards their staff and especially at night.

Yes, they should certainly be reimbursed for using a taxi in this instance. A 25 min walk would equate to approx 5 mins in a taxi.

Having said that, they also had a duty of care for themselves and perhaps should have used a taxi if they weren't comfortable with the walk as personal safety comes before the cost of taxi regardless of who is paying. Have that argument later with the receipt marked at 10.30pm.

Matt
 

medhead

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You must be getting an allowance to use the substantiation methods in that document, otherwise normal rules apply.

Better expressed that I did. Been a while since I read the fine details, usually just check the allowance amount.

Just checking now an substantiation requirements, in particular the substantiation exception is covered by Taxation Ruling TR 2004/6.

The important combination is that were an allowance is paid upto the reasonable amounts can be claimed without written evidence.

So for the OP all expenses can be claimed upto any amount, regardless of the ATO reasonable amounts, provided the required evidence is kept.
 
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