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Receipt FAQ

Meal, Travel and Work Related Receipts FAQ

  note Employees should confirm if different polices have been established within their department.

Frequently Asked Questions

  Q1: What constitutes an official receipt?
  Q2: What is a non-standard receipt?
  Q3: What information is needed on a non-standard receipt?
  Q4: An employee received a receipt for their credit card transaction when they paid for their meal. What is a valid credit card receipt? 
  Q5: What if a receipt shows alcoholic beverages in additional to the meal?
  Q6: Are non-alcoholic drinks, appetizers and desserts acceptable?
  Q7: What about tips that are not shown on the receipt?
  Q8: What is the expectation for breakfast and dinner? What time does the employee need to leave or return to their official domicile in order to be eligible for breakfast and/or dinner?
  Q9: What is the expectation for adding break items to either breakfast or lunch?
  Q10: What if the employee eats different items from multiple locations at different times, such as a salad at one eatery and later at another eatery, eats a burger. Can there be multiple receipts per meal?
  Q11: What if staff doesn't eat their meal at a restaurant? For example, sometimes staff stays with family or friends or stays in hotels with refrigerators and microwaves, and then purchases food for preparation from a grocery store. Will receipts from grocery stores be eligible for reimbursement instead of a restaurant receipt?
  Q12: What if the wrong date is on the receipt? Can the employee change the date?
  Q13: Will this policy cause a delay for travel reimbursements?
  Q14: Can staff claim tips for grocery stores, fast-food restaurants and gas stations?
  Q15: What if the small town cafe does not provide any receipts?
  Q16: If the employee doesn't spend the total meal allowance at the meal time, can they buy additional items to eat later?
  Q17: Who has to provide receipts?
  Q18: What if an employee parks at a parking meter and no receipt is available? Does the employee need to drive around until they find a parking ramp that provides receipts? Is this allowed or would staff just have to eat the expense since they were unable to obtain a receipt?
  Q19: Some restaurants use a pad for the server to write the order. When the employee pays, they only have the small strip across the bottom as a receipt. Does the employee use the non-standard receipt to get an itemization of the purchase for these instances?
  Q20:

Since employees have to turn in receipts, does the "combined" meal issue also change? This is when staff are out all day, prior to a departure of 6:00 am and a return after 7:00 pm. If staff doesn't use their entire breakfast and lunch allowance, are they still entitled to $28 for the day if dinner is only $15?

For Example: Staff picks up something light for breakfast ($1) and lunch ($0 or $2), then doesn't claim the full breakfast & lunch amount, and eats a large dinner for $25. The total for the day is $28, so they still get the $28, correct?

  Q21: Procedure 210.102, 3. states Meals are for the employee. Please clarify.
  Q22: What if employee's have meals on a hotel receipt?
  Q23: Meal Receipt Procedure 210.102, paragraph 5, states multiple beverages, candy bars, bags of chips, etc. are not allowable. If staff wants to eat 2 cookies and drink 2 cans of pop for lunch, will only 1 cookie and 1 can of pop be allowed or will the receipt be reimbursed in total? How does one monitor and decipher with multiples of which foods are allowable and which are not?
  Q24: Multiple staff are traveling together to an overnight location and decides to split a large pizza and a case of pop. Will you accept photo copies of one receipt among several people, with the cost allocated between them?
  Q25: What if an employee only has one receipt to claim? Do they still need to tape that receipt on a blank piece of paper or can they simply staple that to the TP? Will you accept it and say nothing to us, or will you accept it and then ask our staff to tape the receipt on a sheet of paper next time?
  Q26: Some receipts don't have "Iowa" written or printed on them. For example, some chain stores only have the store number on them, which is meaningful to the store. They may only have the city printed on it, not the state. Will you accept the receipt as is or make the employee write "Iowa" on it or ask your accounting staff to write "Iowa" on it, etc.?
  Q27: What would be an acceptable receipt if the employee uses Nutri-System type meals? They come pre-packaged for 1 month at a time with a packing slip. The cost averages $10 a day, to which locally purchased items will supplement the meals.
  Q28: In the Procedure 210.102, paragraph 5, the last sentence indicates items like candy bars and bags of ships are not allowable, which seems to contradict the Procedure's paragraph 11, which states employees can write a non-standard receipt when purchasing items from a vending machine. If someone chooses to eat a candy bar and a bag of chips for lunch rather than meat and vegetable or a sandwich, are we required to reject the receipt?
  Q29: Which receipts should be signed by the employee?
  Q30: The receipt from the restaurant is itemized and states iced tea was purchases as a "beverage", but not what type of beverage. Is this acceptable?
  Q31: Is food purchased at a convenience store instead of a restaurant reimbursable?
     

Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers are based on DAS-SAE Policy 210.102Meal, Travel and Work Related Receipts
 

Q1:

What constitutes an official receipt?

A1:

The actual receipt (not a copy) is considered official and valid when it contains all of the following information:

  1. Name of establishment
  2. An itemization of what was eaten
  3. Date and time
  4. City and state

This information is necessary for the following reasons:

  1. The name of the establishment is to ensure that tips are allowable.
    An itemized listing of what is included in the receipt is necessary to ensure what is being claimed is eligible for reimbursement. The detailed receipt is required for verification that it is only for one person, does not contain alcohol and only includes meal items; not break items to be consumed at a later time or other ineligible items. 
    Note: Credit card receipts showing only the amount charged is not sufficient documentation.
  2. The date and time is to ensure staff is claiming meal reimbursements for only those meals they are eligible to receive within their allowed meal times.
  3. The city, state and location of the establishment is to ensure that staff is not purchasing meals within their official domicile unless authorized for a meal in that domicile or when purchasing food to make meals for travel out of domicile in lieu of eating in a restaurant.
Q2:

What is a non-standard receipt?

A2:

Non-standard receipt:

  1. A non-standard receipt is received from an establishment which does not include the required information as stated in A1 of this FAQ. (See above)
  2. A non-standard receipt is a receipt the employee had to write and sign because they could not get a receipt for such items as; food from a vending machine, a phone booth, parking meters or coin operated car washes. 

A non-standard receipt is not to replace:

a)    A lost receipt
b)    A forgotten receipt
c)    The detailed credit card receipt.

EXAMPLE: The green order form or the white stub from the bottom of the order form that are often received in small town cafes. In this situation, the employee submits the receipt received by taping it to a sheet of paper, detailing the information and then signing it.

Q3:

What information is needed on a non-standard receipt?

A3:

If staff receives a non-standard receipt from an establishment, include the following information on the receipt and then sign the receipt:

  1. Name of establishment
  2. Itemization of what was eaten
  3. Date and time
  4. City and state
  5. When the employee writes information on a non-standard receipt, the employee must sign each receipt.

Q4:

An employee received a receipt for their credit card transaction when they paid for their meal. What is a valid credit card receipt?

A4:

If staff received an itemized credit card receipt with the name of the establishment, date, time, city, state and items purchased, it is a valid receipt. Staff normally receives two receipts when using a credit card at a restaurant. One is simply proof of the amount charged against the credit card (and is not acceptable alone). The other receipt includes an itemization of what staff is being charged. This itemized receipt must be submitted for the reimbursement.

Q5:

What if a receipt shows alcoholic beverages in addition to the meal?

A5:

Draw a single line through any ineligible items on the receipt and exclude both the cost of the ineligible item(s) and the taxes & tips applicable to the ineligible item(s) in the amounts requested for reimbursement.
See the HRE Policy.

Q6:

Are non-alcoholic drinks, appetizers and dessert acceptable?

A6:

Generally, all items consumed at the meal, except alcohol, are allowable. What an employee chooses to eat for their meals is at their discretion. However, non-food items such as gum, antacids (i.e. Tums, Rolaids, Pepto-Bismol, etc.) and breath mints (i.e. Tic Tacs, Altoids, etc.) are not allowable.

Q7:

What about tips that are not shown on the receipt?

A7:

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⇒ Tips are allowable for not more than 15% of the food bill, up to the maximum allowed for reimbursement. The tip is to be calculated on the sub-total of food and drink before the tax has been applied. To document tips if they are not shown on the receipt, the employee should write the allowable amount at the bottom of the applicable meal receipt.

EXAMPLE: Employee is eligible only for lunch reimbursement. The actual cost of the meal is $7.73 (not including tax) and the employee leaves a 70¢ tip.  Maximum reimbursement allowed is $8.00 - the current allowable rate for reimbursement for lunch.

EXAMPLE: Employee is eligible only for lunch reimbursement. The cost of the meal is $3.00 (not including tax) and the employee leaves a 50¢ tip. Maximum reimbursement allowed is $3.45 - the actual spent for the food, plus 15% for the tip.

EXAMPLE: Employee is eligible for lunch and dinner reimbursement. The cost of the lunch meal is $3.00 (not including tax) and the employee leaves a 50¢ tip (45¢ tip is allowable). The cost of the dinner meal is $10.00 (not including tax) and employee leaves a $2.00 tip ($1.50 tip is allowable). Maximum reimbursement allowed is $14.95 ($3.45 plus $11.50).

Q8:

What is the expectation for breakfast and dinner? What time does the employee need to leave or return to their official domicile in order to be eligible for breakfast and/or dinner?

A8:

When the employee leaves before 6:00 am, they may be reimbursed for breakfast. When the employee returns after 7:00 pm, they may be reimbursed for an evening meal. 

Q9:

What is the expectation for adding break items to either breakfast or lunch?

A9:

Break items are unallowable and are considered a personal expense.

Q10:

What if the employee eats different items from multiple locations at different times, such as a salad at one eatery and later at another eatery, eats a burger. Can there be multiple receipts per meal?

A10:

 A meal is defined as food and drink consumed at one sitting. One receipt per meal is allowed. Meals should be purchased during your allowed meal time. The intent of the single receipt is to prohibit the purchase of additional food for breaks throughout the day.
  → Note: Mileage is not reimbursable when traveling for food.

Q11:

What if staff doesn’t eat their meal at a restaurant? For example, sometimes staff stays with family or friends or stays in hotels with refrigerators and microwaves, and then purchase food for preparation from a grocery store. Will receipts from grocery stores be eligible for reimbursement instead of a restaurant receipt?

A11:

If an employee chooses to make their own meals (in lieu of eating at a restaurant), a receipt from a grocery store may be eligible for reimbursement. If the receipt covers multiple meals or multiple dates, write the dates the meals are requested for on the receipt and document the cost allocated to each meal. 

EXAMPLE: An employee is eligible for 2 lunches, 1 dinner and 1 breakfast. They need to indicate the items on the grocery store receipt that were consumed at those 4 eligible meals. Any items not accounted for per meal will not be reimbursed.

To clarify Procedure 210.102, paragraph 7, grocery receipts are only to be used for the dates surrounding the trip date. For instance, a day or two prior to the trip. Claims for items on a grocery store receipt for a subsequent trip are unallowable. A grocery store receipt dated after a trip is not allowable.

EXAMPLE: An employee is staying at a location for 2 days. The grocery store receipt can only be used for the days with lodging and the following breakfast or lunch meal times. Items on that same grocery receipt cannot be used for dates later in the month.

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Q12:

What if the wrong date is on the receipt? Can the employee change the date?

A12:

No, altered receipts are not acceptable.

Q13:

Will this policy cause a delay for travel reimbursements?

A13:

It is anticipated travel payments should not experience any delays in SAE if filled out correctly, have receipts attached which are properly documented and are properly certified by the employee and manager. Staff will need to check with their own department’s accounting personnel to find out if their process may delay payment.

Q14:

Can staff claim tips for grocery stores, fast-food restaurants and gas stations?

A14:

Tips are not allowable for self-service locations. Claims for tips paid at gas stations, fast-food restaurants or grocery stores are disallowed. Tips for cafeterias with seating areas within grocery stores are allowable.

Q15:

What if the small town cafe does not provide any receipts?

A15:

All restaurants will provide some sort of receipt if requested. If it is a non-standard receipt, you will need to provide the itemized information as noted in A3 of this FAQ.

Q16:

If the employee doesn’t spend the total meal allowance at the meal time, can they buy additional items to eat later?

A16:

“Break” or “refreshment” costs are considered as personal discretionary expenses and are not paid for by the State. See A9 & A10 of this FAQ for definition of a meal.

Q17:

Who has to provide receipts?

A17:

All Executive Branch State Employees, Board & Commission Advisory and Task Force members must provide receipts. Elected Officials (only) are exempt.

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Q18:

What if an employee parks at a parking meter and no receipt is available? Does the employee need drive around until they find a parking ramp that provides receipts? Is this allowed or would staff just have to eat the expense since they were unable to obtain a receipt? 

A18:

Parking receipts for any dollar amount are now required. For a meter or any type of expense where receipts are not normally available, the non-standard hand written receipt by the employee will be required. See Procedure 210.102, paragraph 2, for Travel and Other Work Related Receipts.

Q19:

Some restaurants use a pad for the server to write the order. When the employee pays, they only the small strip across the bottom as a receipt. Does the employee use the non-standard receipt to get an itemization of the purchase for these instances?

A19:

This would be considered a non-standard receipt. The employee would write the required itemized information on the receipt and sign it, as described in A1 of this FAQ.

Q20:

Since employees have to turn in receipts, does the “combined” meal issue also change? This is when staff is out all day, prior to a departure of 6 am and a return after 7 pm. If staff doesn’t use their entire breakfast & lunch allowance, are they still entitled to $28 for the day if dinner is only $15?

EXAMPLE: Staff picks up something light for breakfast ($1) and lunch ($0 or $2), then doesn’t claim the full breakfast & lunch amount, and eats a large dinner for $25. Their total for the day is $28, so they still get the $28, correct?

A20:

Yes, they are still eligible to combine the costs and eat a higher priced meal when eligible.

Q21:

Procedure 210.102, paragraph 3 states Meals are for the employee. Please clarify.

A21:

This means employees should purchase meals only for themselves and should not purchase meals for other employees or non-employees.

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Q22:

What if employees have meals on a hotel receipt?

A22:

The meals on the hotel will need to be itemized. Hotels will provide an itemized receipt if requested.

Q23:

Meal Receipt Procedure 210.102, paragraph 5, states that multiple beverages, candy bars, bags of chips, etc. are not allowable. If staff wants to have 2 cookies and 2 cans of pop for lunch, will only 1 cookie and 1 can of pop be allowed or will the receipt be reimbursed in total? How does one monitor and decipher which multiples of which foods are allowable and which are not?

A23:

We cannot tell an employee what they may or may not eat for a meal. The intent of the policy is to reimburse for food that is consumed at one sitting, per meal, and not to reimburse for break items. Purchasing multiple items may appear to be break items and may be questioned or denied.

Q24:

Multiple staff is traveling together to an overnight location and decides to split a large pizza and a case of pop. Will you accept photo copies of one receipt among several people, with the cost allocated between them?

A24:

A photo copy may be used with an explanation on the claim and they will then need to be cross referenced to each other. A case of pop is a lot of beverages, so some of the pop expense may not be allowed depending on the number of staff.

Q25:

What if an employee only has one receipt to claim? Do they still need to tape that receipt on a blank piece of paper or can they simply staple that to the TP? Will you accept it and say nothing us, or will you accept it and then ask our staff to tape the receipt on a sheet of paper the next time?

A25:

One receipt would be acceptable to staple to the claim, but more than one receipt should be taped to one side of a piece of 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper. Place tape on the top and bottom of the receipts, being careful not to tape over any of the information as we have found tape removes the ink. The reason for attachment in this manner is to make receipts manageable, easier to follow when auditing claims, reduction of the occurrence of receipts becoming detached from a claim and the filing space in the final retention of claims is minimized.

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Q26:

Some receipts don’t have "Iowa" written or printed on them. For example, some chain stores only have the store number on them, which is meaningful to them. They may only have the city printed on it, not the state. Will you accept the receipt as is or make the employee write "Iowa" on it or ask your accounting staff to write "Iowa" on it, etc.?

A26:

The city is needed to ensure meals are not in the employee’s domicile. If the city/state is not identified on the receipt, the employee should write that information on the receipt and sign it.

Q27:

What would be an acceptable receipt if the employee uses Nutri-System type meals? They come pre-packaged for 1 month at a time with a packing slip. The cost averages $10 a day to which locally purchased items will supplement the meals.

A27:

The employee should provide what they have received for a receipt by the company (packing slip with the cost and form of payment). This is a non-standard receipt and the employee would need to detail the information and then sign it.

Q28:

In the Procedure 210.102, paragraph 5, the last sentence indicates items like candy bars and bags of chips are not allowable, which seems to contradict the Procedure’s paragraph 11, which states employees can write a non-standard receipt when purchasing items from a vending machine. If someone chooses to eat a candy bar and bag of chips for lunch rather than meat and vegetables or a sandwich, are we required to reject the receipt?

A28:

We cannot tell an employee what they may or may not eat. The last sentence in the Procedure 210.102, paragraph 5 refers to when employees purchase multiple items that could be break items, which are not reimbursable. Paragraph 11 refers to vending machine purchases where receipts are not issued and would then require a non-standard receipt.

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Q29:

Which receipts should be signed by the employee?

A29:

Each receipt that the employee writes information on must be signed by the employee.

Q30:

The receipt from the restaurant is itemized and states iced tea was purchased as a “beverage”, but not what type of beverage. Is this acceptable?

A30:

Employees should write the type of “beverage”, such as iced tea, soft drink, etc. so that we know it was a non-alcoholic beverage and then sign the receipt.

Q31:

Is food purchased at a convenience store instead of a restaurant reimbursable?

A31:

If an employee is eligible for a meal reimbursement, the employee may elect to purchase food and drink items at a convenience store instead of a restaurant outside of their domicile, with the proper receipts.
 

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    Updated July 2016