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Mileage Reimbursment - what is covered 'on the way to work'?

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Some of our staff use their morning/afternoon commute to stop by clients offices and and review items or pick things up. They claim they are making a business trip to do this and believe they should be reimbursed mileage for the entire trip even if this only adds 2-3 miles to their regular commute. At a previous company I worked for we allowed for mileage reimbursement based upon the difference between their regular commute (no reimbursement, feel free to put on your tax returns), and the extra miles it took to get to the second location. Backup in the form of Mapquest directions showing the distances was required with their expense reports.

I am trying to determine what common practice is and if there is somewhere I could locate solid backup to support a company policy here for this. We don't want to discourage this practice, as it is the best use of time when appropriate, but it seems unfair to be reimbursed for your regular morning drive simply by stopping  somewhere to say hello, and encourages abuse.

 

Answers

Jane Levin
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: Private
(Corporate Controller, Private) |

Your instinct is right, and I have seen that practice at many companies, including mine. We only reimburse for the difference in mileage, not the whole trip. I remember reading backup for that somewhere but I can't recall where! Sorry about that, but ask your auditor, I bet they have something for you.

Rex Jackson
Title: EVP and Chief Financial Officer
Company: JDS Uniphase
(EVP and Chief Financial Officer, JDS Uniphase) |

The practice at your previous company was spot on. Commuting is a personal expense, and side trips don't serve to change that answer.

I don't have ready backup for this, but the distinction is clear and long-established.

Good luck.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Regardless of what you decide regarding reimbursement, make sure you understand whether you have a liability exposure for any accident/loss/damage during one of these trips.

Katrina Basic
Title: VP of Finance and HR
Company: Love Culture Inc.
(VP of Finance and HR, Love Culture Inc.) |

I agree with the other who have commented...it is traditional to only reimburse when the beyond their normal commute.

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