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Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

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Old Jul 2, 13, 7:16 pm
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Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

This question is about common corporate travel policy. My job has me traveling around the US for a few years now. Most people leave home on Monday and return on Friday. However, if it is cheaper, I will occasionally fly somewhere other than home for the weekend, and then on to my next destination Monday morning. This is a big convenience if I'm out east and need to be back there the following week. The company has paid for these flights, but it has saved thousands of $$ over flying me all the way home.

Recently, my company has said they will only allow flights from my home to a job site and return to home.

So the question is, is that a common corporate travel policy to only allow flights from home to job and back home? Or is it acceptable to fly to a cheaper location for the weekend instead.
My thought is they shouldn't care where "home" is as long as I'm not costing extra money.
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Old Jul 2, 13, 7:21 pm
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I know my company would have issues with it because they might be on the hook for business travel accident insurance if you aren't technically home. Also, once you add in hotel, rental car, and food, I can't believe you're saving that much overall.
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Old Jul 2, 13, 7:36 pm
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Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

Don't forget that it might be a tax issue, benefits vs. private trip ...staying over for the weekend at the destination to save cost for the next flight out - but to fly you to another destination on their dime ... That is a first for me .
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Old Jul 2, 13, 8:03 pm
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It's not that uncommon to reimburse you only if you leave and return home. There have been a few threads about it in the past, they usually fall along the lines of "the company doesn't want to pay for vacations"

I've always thought it would be easiest if they just paid up to a round trip and let you do what you wanted in the middle, but that's not always the reality.
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Old Jul 2, 13, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by lovely15 View Post
Also, once you add in hotel, rental car, and food, I can't believe you're saving that much overall.
Well since he's "flying home", he's not expensing the hotel, rental car and food only the flight to get him there.
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Old Jul 2, 13, 8:57 pm
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Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

The IRS only allows your company to deduct the the trips expense if you are traveling to/from your permanent residence. If you travel to different places that aren't your home on weekends it exposes your company to large tax penalties should the IRS audit your company and they cannot demonstrate you actually return home enough
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Old Jul 3, 13, 1:57 am
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Corporate Travel Policy: Weekend destination requirements

This is a hypothetical based on the discussion. Suppose Employee lives in SEA and is working in MSP. His next assignment is WAS. Could he then fly to NYC on the weekend on the presumption he is getting partway there?
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Old Jul 3, 13, 8:51 am
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I worked for one firm about 10 years ago that provided you a budget based on the client location and your "home" location. You could fly elsewhere using that budget if you chose, but the value of those flights automatically became taxable if they weren't to your tax home. I think there were some other rules about the tax home...it had to be a physical street address and otherwise meet legal requirements as a "residence". (A lot of us were traveling 100% of the time, so it could easily be your buddy's apartment... But you couldn't just throw a PO Box in a no-income-tax state and call it good.)

For us, it was pretty clear-cut because we tended to be on long-term assignments, buying Friday-to-Monday roundtrip tickets. So that allowance for a given citypair, especially with hefty corporate discounts, was usually pretty low. For example, my usual DCA-MCI-DCA roundtrip on US Airways was regularly in the sub-$150 R/T range all in in the late 1990's.

I didn't have that situation of moving on to different cities each week. Wonder if the traveler could book MSP-NYC-WAS on a single PNR with a two-day stopover in NYC...
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Old Jul 3, 13, 9:08 am
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Firm I used to work for allowed travel on weekends to places other than 'home' but only if the cost was the same or less than the trip home. Consultants from Europe, Africa and Asia had a blast flying around the US and Canada on the weekends on the longer assignments with this policy! Hotel / rental car / food was never covered, but those items would be covered if they stayed in the city over the weekend instead.
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Old Jul 3, 13, 10:53 am
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It's more about process than value.

Companies are audited by both independent auditors and tax inspectors and I know from experience that they'd rather do something "regular" that costs more, than something "irregular" that will draw the auditors' attention.

This is also the case with clients if the flights are being charged on to them - a destination that is not in the agreed routes will set alarm bells ringing.

By and large, I let my service people do stuff like this if it won't cause too much hassle but often employees with great cost saving ideas (that also happen to benefit them!) don't take all the backroom costs and hassles into account, or they underestimate them.
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Old Jul 3, 13, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by atoqe View Post
... So the question is, is that a common corporate travel policy to only allow flights from home to job and back home? Or is it acceptable to fly to a cheaper location for the weekend instead. ...
common -- somewhat, although the specifics (as we have seen from the discussion so far) vary from company to company, as do the reasons for the variations

as I recall from my days of traveling for Boeing (1983-1999), company policy was that you could stop somewhere on either the outbound or the return, with one additional level of management approval ... while you had to annotate the deviation on your travel request as a personal side trip, and you were not allowed to claim expenses (hotel, rental car, per diem) for other than business days, you were still covered by the corporate travel insurance ... you were also on the hook for airfare over and above the baseline O/D round-trip (for much of that time the Saturday-night stay rule for the lowest fares actually made such circle trips cheaper)

traveling under Government rules while on active Reserve duty (1999-2003) was fairly similar, although the flights to and from the personal destination couldn't be at contract airfares

the four contractor companies that I have worked for since I retired have all had reasonably accommodating policy as well; documentation is occasionally more of a challenge (in terms of booking flights directly vs thru corporate travel agents/websites)

that said, policy did force me into a 22-hr transcon roundtrip: I'd booked DCA-LAX on business for a couple days, then LAX-SEA to meet up w my family and fly back to DC with them (I really didn't want to include a SEA-DC flight on company travel, since we were staying 10 days, so just planned to pick up a one-way on my own) ... found I had to be back in LA the day after their return flight, and realized it would look awfully strange if an auditor saw my next trip originating SEA (i.e., appearing that the company had paid for me to get to and from the same personal side trip) ... so I grabbed the cheapest redeye (AS SEA-BOS, UA BOS-IAD) and a taxi home; drove to the kennel to pick up the dog, then back home to sleep for a couple hours; showered, re-packed, jumped in my wife's car and drove to DCA, texted her where it was parked, and got on a westbound 5pm flight
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Old Jul 3, 13, 11:52 am
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Originally Posted by cocaine View Post
Well since he's "flying home", he's not expensing the hotel, rental car and food only the flight to get him there.
He didn't specifically say that.
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Old Jul 3, 13, 12:03 pm
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I do this often, but corporate always provides a cost comparison and I'm on the hook for anything more than the cheapest direct flights. No hotel or rental car charges are expensed during these side trips. Great way to see someplace different at a reduced cost.
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Old Jul 3, 13, 3:41 pm
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Thank you all for the input. Good to hear some outside experience.

To clarify a few things for my situation:
1. It is ALWAYS cheaper to fly somewhere other than my home for a weekend since I live in a small town. Usually $200-$300 savings. It's a different ball of wax if I were costing them more.
2. The weekends are my responsibility, so no per diem, rental car, etc. Just the flights to get there.
3. Previous to recent changes, I have done all travel with the travel agent. We would just verify that my alternate location was cheaper than my real home, and that was it. I don't think there was additional paperwork beyond her noting that in my itinerary.

Regarding a tax home, wish I knew more about that in that corporate environment. i thought it mostly applied to self-employed travel expenses.

The big question is the corporate travel insurance. If they fly me home, then they are not liable once I arrive. The question is are they still liable if they fly me to another city instead. My thinking is if there is no business at that location and I'm paying my own costs then they should be off the hook.
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Old Jul 3, 13, 6:38 pm
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All companies are different, so you will not get an overwhelming yes or no in either direction.

Home is where you live, not where the cheapest airfare to and from is. SO as a company to keep all things equal, they should fly you to the job site and home at the end of the trip, regardless of where yoru next assignment is. If your company asks you what you can do to reduce the travel expense, then make the suggestion, othetwise, just go home and not to cities you want to be in before your next assignment starts.
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