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International Travel Training. OSP Coffee Break: August 24, 2010 Presented by: Lisa Cotanch, CPA, Director of Tax Reporting. Overview. The University has a requirement to report “foreign activities” to the IRS

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International Travel Training

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International travel training

International Travel Training

OSP Coffee Break:

August 24, 2010

Presented by:

Lisa Cotanch, CPA, Director of Tax Reporting



  • The University has a requirement to report “foreign activities” to the IRS

  • This is the IRS’s way of saying that the University has to break down international travel by region(s)

  • We have created new account codes that correspond to the IRS’s region for all costs related to foreign travel, including transportation, lodging, meals and conference registration costs

What is foreign activity

What is “foreign activity”?

  • Any University activity that is conducted in a foreign country on a sponsored, non-sponsored, gift, University or other Chartstring. Including but not limited to, conferences, research travel and travel for scholarly, athletic , educational, business and other University related matters

  • This includes long and short term foreign activity

  • SU Abroad records their own foreign activities

  • Basically, if the University or sponsor is paying for the foreign activity on any Chartstring, it needs to be recorded in the proper account code(s)

To whom does this apply

To whom does this apply?

  • This applies to every person who travels to a foreign country on University, restricted or sponsored funds:

    • All employees (faculty, staff, full time, part time, temporary, casual, etc.)

    • All students (matriculated, non-matriculated, full-time, part-time, undergrad, grad, doctoral, post-doc, etc.)

    • Non-employees including consultants, board members, trustees, speakers, candidates for faculty, staff or board positions, sub-contractors

    • Student athletes, enrolled or at any point in the athletic recruitment process

What countries does this cover

What countries does this cover?

  • The short answer is ALL foreign countries, including our sister North American countries of Canada & Mexico

  • The IRS does not require that the University break down travel to any US states, territories or possessions, including, but not limited to, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and Samoa

What are activities anyway

What are “activities”, anyway?

  • At this time, the University will report to the IRS the two foreign activities below:

    • Conference registration

    • Travel including, but is not limited to:

      • Airfare

      • Ground transportation (train, taxi, subway, rickshaw, pony express, hot air balloon, etc.)

      • Vehicle rental, lease, fuel costs, mileage

      • Lodging (hotel, hostel, B&B, park bench, etc.)

      • Meals and snacks (food purchased for consumption while en route to or from or in a foreign country from a restaurant, street vendor, grocery store, etc.)

What accounts do i use to properly record our foreign activities

What accounts do I use to properly record our foreign activities?

  • The IRS requires that we break down foreign activity by IRS mandated regions.

  • The University has nine “Travel” and nine “Conference Registration” account codes that correlate to the IRS regions

  • Travel to, from and within these regions must be coded to that specific region

  • Conference registrations in the region(s) must be coded to those regions

What are the travel regions

What are the travel regions?

  • IRS Regions and SU account codes, travel:

    • 560720Central America/Caribbean

    • 560721East Asia and Pacific

    • 560722Europe

    • 560723Middle East and North Africa

    • 560724Canada and Mexico

    • 560725Russia and newly independent states

    • 560726South America

    • 560727South Asia

    • 560728Sub-Saharan Africa

      For a listing of countries in each region go here:

What are the conference registration account codes

What are the conference registration account codes?

  • IRS Regions and SU account codes, conference registration:

    • 560730Central America/Caribbean

    • 560731East Asia and Pacific

    • 560732Europe

    • 560733Middle East and North Africa

    • 560734Canada and Mexico

    • 560735Russia and newly independent states

    • 560736South America

    • 560737South Asia

    • 560738Sub-Saharan Africa

      For a listing of countries in each region go here:

How do i properly code travel on a multiple point trip

How do I properly code travel on a multiple point trip?

  • Travel is coded according to destination. And, yes, multiple account codes must be used on multi-point trips to ensure proper reporting. Travel account codes include all items previously mentioned (meals, transportation, lodging) but NOT conference registration (that gets its own slide!). If the ticket(s) for transportation does not break out each leg of the trip, an approximation can be used, simply divide the total cost of the airfare (train fare, etc.) by the number of legs and use that number.

  • For example, the trip below has 5 travel points. If the cost of the trip is $4444.00, the cost of each leg is $888.80 ($4444  5 = 888.80).

  • Syracuse to London: Travel – Europe

  • London to Italy: Travel – Europe

  • Italy to China: Travel – East Asia & the Pacific

  • China to Dubai: Travel – Middle East & North Africa

  • Dubai to Syracuse Travel - Middle East & North Africa

How do i properly code conference registrations

How do I properly code conference registrations?

  • Use the conference registration account codes only for the actual cost to register for the conference

  • If the conference is in a foreign country, the conference registration must be coded to the proper SU conference registration account code, not to foreign travel

  • This is true even if the sponsor of the conference is a US based entity, conference registrations are coded to the region in which the conference occurs

Conference registration costs

Conference registration costs

  • Only the actual cost of registering for the conference can be included in charges to the conference registration account code

    • If the conference you are attending has an optional conference activity that is not included in the conference registration cost or requires the purchase of texts, software, materials or supplies for which the University is paying, those activities or purchases must be coded to their proper account even if they are paid for at the time of registration

    • Purchases related to optional conference activities or purchases may be taxable income to employees, please contact the Comptroller’s office prior to your trip if you have questions

What about equipment supplies

What about equipment & supplies?

  • At this time, equipment and supplies purchased while on foreign travel do not have to be coded as “foreign”. In the future, plan on this happening, but right now, continue to use the equipment or supply account codes that you would normally use for purchases

What about travel to the u s

What about travel to the U.S.?

  • Travel to the United States or any of its territories or possessions from a foreign country and return from the United States to a foreign country does not fall under this requirement. Non-foreign account codes should be used for travel to the United States by all employees, consultants, students or other individuals or groups

Final thoughts

Final thoughts

  • The IRS requirement to break out foreign is not optional, however, the way we do it at SU is up to our own discretion. Please feel free to suggest process improvements, clarifications, fine tuning, etc.

  • If you have questions about sponsored foreign travel, contact OSA

  • If you have questions about non-sponsored foreign travel, contact General Accounting for questions on account codes or other specifics, contact Disbursements for questions on using or processing forms

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