The purpose of this bulletin is to provide agencies with the 2020 calendar year-end procedures for taxable travel reimbursement.
Taxable travel reimbursements include:
- Excess Personal Car Mileage (PCM) Reimbursements
- Excess Per Diem Payments
- Non-Overnight Meal Allowances
- Employee Payments Taxable Under the IRS One-Year Rule
Excess PCM and Per Diem Amounts:
- IRS rules relating to employee business expense reimbursements require withholding and Form W-2 reporting on any excess amounts paid.
- “Excess amount” is the portion that is greater than the applicable Federal rate and not substantiated by receipts.
- The 2020 maximum rate allowed by IRS for PCM is 57.5 cents per mile effective from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
- Current maximum Federal per diems for the continental U.S. can be found in the Guide to Financial Operations Chapter XIII, Section 4.E.
Non-Overnight Meal Allowances:
- The IRS requires employers to report and withhold income and employment taxes from meal allowances for non-overnight travel (day trips).
The IRS requires employers to report travel reimbursements and withhold income and employment taxes if employment away from home at a single location is realistically expected to last for more than one year. Further explanations of rules for excess PCM, Per Diem Amounts, Non-Overnight Meal Allowances and One-Year Rule can be found in the Guide to Financial Operations .
Each month, taxable travel reimbursement data is transferred from the Statewide Financial System (SFS) to PayServ and the amount is reflected on the employee’s paycheck advice or pay stub as a “Taxable Expense” (Earnings code TXE). The final transfer of taxable travel reimbursements for 2020 will occur on December 10, 2020, and will include all reimbursements paid by SFS from November 20, 2020 through December 10, 2020. The reimbursements will be reflected as “Taxable Expense” on the advices or pay stubs of the Administration and Institution paychecks dated December 23, 2020 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
OSC Actions (Year-End)
Any taxable travel reimbursement paid by SFS from December 11, 2020 through December 31, 2020 will be handled differently in PayServ. Taxable travel reimbursements are subject to income and employment taxes; however, these “Taxable Expense” items will not have taxes withheld in 2020, as the expense will not be reflected in employee paychecks. Instead, the automated process will add these amounts to the employee’s reportable taxable income in box 1 on the employee’s 2020 Form W-2.
Social Security/Medicare tax deficiency deductions will be initiated in early 2021 for any “Taxable Expense” that did not have taxes withheld in 2020. Employees who paid the maximum amount of Social Security tax ($8,537.40) for 2020 will only have a deduction for the Medicare tax deficiency in a 2021 paycheck.
Taxable Employee Expense Reimbursements are considered taxable fringe benefits. As such, they are supplemental taxable income, will be added to the employee’s taxable gross wages, for tax withholding purposes, and are subject to employment and income taxes.
Federal, State and New York City income tax withholding will be calculated using the Aggregate method. Yonkers income tax withholding will be calculated using the Flat Rate method. Yonkers Flat Rate Withholding is 1.61135% for Yonkers residents and 0.50% for Yonkers non-residents.
To avoid under-withholding of income taxes for 2020 and subsequent deductions for Social Security and Medicare tax deficiencies in 2021, Payroll Officers should work with their employees to accelerate the submission of Expense Reports to SFS so that these are received, audited, and paid no later than December 10, 2020.
Questions regarding this bulletin may be directed to the Tax and Compliance mailbox.
All other questions may be directed to the SFS Help Desk at or (518) 457-7737 / (877) 737-4185.