How To Claim Travel Expenses For Work On Tax Return – Travel Expenses Expenses incurred by an employee during business-related travel. Use it as a travel expense tracker for your team.
In companies where employees travel frequently, the existence of a finance department without a proper system to effectively manage and process travel expenses and claims is prohibitive. Unfortunately, it’s still common in many small businesses for employees to manually fill out travel expense reports, sometimes waiting months for their claims to be processed. These delays can lead to inefficient claim reimbursements and may lead to cash flow problems for employees, which can lead to tension and dissatisfaction with employers. At the same time, it can also be an unnecessary burden on HR and Finance, who are tasked with scrutinizing receipts and travel expense reports to verify and process employee claims. What are the travel expenses? Travel expenses are essentially expenses that can be claimed by an employee in a company for business expenses during a foreign trip. However, not all expenses are claimable and processing claims applications can be tricky. HR and finance departments typically have to sift through dozens to hundreds of claim applications to ensure that employee claims are substantiated by receipts. Examples of claimable expenses: Accommodation expenses during travel Food and beverages Transportation on trips Examples of non-claimable expenses (depending on the organization): Alcoholic beverages Entertainment Sightseeing excursions or tours Generally, these expenses are charged to the employee’s personal credit card or purchased with their own cash. Upon their return, the standard process in most companies is to fill out a travel expense report, submit it to HR for validation, and then submit it to Finance for processing before making reimbursements to employees. An alternative to this tedious process is to use company-issued credit or expense cards. These corporate cards can be issued to employees with predetermined limits on spending to prevent overspending on unclaimable or extravagant expenses. Another perk of these virtual corporate cards is that it is linked to your company bank account, eliminating the need for travel expense reports and saving HR and finance time by fully automating the processing of claims for travel expenses. Through a central dashboard, the management and finance team can instantly get an overview of spending when a payment is made. Every payment made by an employee can be tracked through these virtual cards in real-time with unique tracking codes and automatically updated into a centralized expense tracking system. This saves your employees time wasted filling out travel expense reports every time they return from trips, giving them more time to focus on meaningful work. What are taxable and non-taxable travel expenses? Not only is tracking travel expenses important for claim reimbursements, it’s an important process to streamline tax reporting when the time comes. Each company has its own limit for per diem allowance or daily travel allowance for employees traveling for business purposes. This usually includes incidental expenses such as meal expenses, transportation expenses, and laundry. As of 2005, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) required businesses to report the amount of daily allowance above ‘acceptable rates’ for an employee moving out of Singapore. These allowable rates are set by IRAS for each country and a company must report any excess on the Return of Employees’ Remuneration form (Form IR8A) to IRAS for each tax year. For employees, the amount is taxed in excess of the daily allowance set by these acceptable standards on a country-by-country basis. For example, Tan Limited pays an employee traveling to Australia S$120 per day for four days. This exceeds the allowable rate of $116 per day in Australia as set by IRAS. Therefore, the extra per day would be S$4 per day and the total extra over four days would be S$16. Therefore, the taxable amount to be reported in Form IR8A will be $16. However, some expenses are less than the daily allowance and are not taxable, including: Foreign accommodation Foreign airport transfer Travel expenses between cities for business purposes Entertainment expenses for business purposes What if the travel expenses are tracked or untracked? Failure to track these travel expenses can have huge consequences for the organization when they fail to accurately report these expenses to IRAS. Failure to report expenses accurately will result in fines of up to S$1000 or default in payment of up to 6 months imprisonment under Section 94 of the Income Tax Act. Fraud is also more likely when travel expenses are not closely tracked, for example by allowing employees to claim expenses that were not incurred using fictitious receipts. But apart from these huge legal ramifications, companies also suffer in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction. While effective reimbursements for claims encourage more positive feelings toward the organization, delayed reimbursements have the opposite, negative effect. Meanwhile, employees who don’t have to fill out manual travel expense reports can improve overall productivity and motivation once the time is freed up. For finance departments, the need to personally verify receipts is removed and they can focus on more strategic tasks that include growing your organization. How to Track Travel Expenses There are a few ways to ensure that travel expenses are managed effectively to keep your employees positive about your organization. Communicate a clear travel policy If organizations do not communicate clearly to employees on travel expense policies, overspending is sure to happen. Many assumptions can be made in terms of what is a claimable expense and what is not, which can lead to overspending and an employee feeling cheated or misled. To avoid these situations, it is important to clearly set a policy for travel expenses, including claimable and non-claimable expenses, documents required for claims, spending limits in a specific currency (accounting for exchange rates), and realistic but strict timelines for claim submissions. Clarify the Claims and Reimbursement Process Employees must be onboard with the claims application process, or there will be errors, disputes, and delays in reimbursement. Travel expense reports, if they must be used, should be clear and straightforward for employees to fill out easily. Time required for processing and reimbursement should be clearly communicated to employees, avoiding overpromising and late payments. Read: How to reimburse employees for expenses Set expectations or budget expectations for trips. Setting estimates or budget estimates for how much the trip will require in your travel expense policy will help employees understand the limits of claimable expenses. This allows them to better plan their travel budgets before reaching their destination and prevent overspending due to miscalculations of the amount they actually need during the trip. For example, based on a trip to a specific destination, for employees staying at a specific hotel in a specific area of the city, HR can set up an estimated amount that the employee will need for meals and other living expenses. Be sure to factor in ancillary fees, such as otherwise hidden fees, surcharges, and service fees. According to the Global Business Travel Association, a supplemental fee is 8% of the total expenses involved in a business trip. These hidden fees can be contentious between employers and employees and should therefore always be included in travel cost policies, estimates and budgeting for the trip. Use an expense management system With an expense tracking system, companies can automate the entire claims and reimbursement process for travel. By automating expense tracking through a centralized dashboard, an organization can view all expenses incurred through virtual corporate cards without having to verify each receipt and travel expense report. Management can also set limits for each employee’s trip, preventing overspending and setting clear boundaries for employees in terms of their travel budgets. A travel expense tracker app allows receipts to be scanned and efficiently stored in a central repository instead of physical cabinets. This allows easy retrieval for tax purposes when needed and takes less time to file them at one time. How can companies save money on employee travel costs? Ensure submitted receipts are valid Submitted receipts must be valid before they are processed to avoid fraudulent travel expense claims. Mistakes such as mistakenly submitting a wrong receipt can also be made by employees, which can lead to delays in the reimbursement process and more time spent resubmitting the travel expense report. According to the Global Business Travel Association, one correction to a travel expense report costs a company an average of $52. Add this up and over time, it can eat up a huge chunk of your company’s profits. Make sure that the expenses are within the company policy, it is very difficult to write off the excess expenses of the employees
How To Claim Travel Expenses For Work On Tax Return
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