Travel: Independent Contractors

Travel: Independent Contractors


Independent Contractors can include but are not limited to Consultants, Entertainers, Guest Speakers, Visiting Experts, Individuals and Companies. The IRS has regulations and rules that determine the relationship between the UO and an individual who is performing work on our behalf. The relationship is either one of employer-employee or the individual is performing a service as an independent contractor. The IRS lists characteristics that are considered when a judgment is made about which relationship exists, employee or independent contractor. Sometimes it is not easy to tell whether an individual is performing work as an employee or as an independent contractor. There are potential tax issues if the IRS determines that the UO makes an incorrect determination about the relationship. The penalties can be substantial as well. If you are unsure about making this determination, check with Purchasing and Contracting Services.

In the view of the IRS, one of the characteristics of an independent contractor is that s/he pays all travel/miscellaneous expenses directly. Lump sum (flat fee) clearly supports the independent contractor classification. Reimbursing the independent contractor or paying a vendor directly for travel/miscellaneous expenses may weaken the rationale for independent contractor classification.

There are also issues concerning non-resident aliens. It is critical that departments make sure that a proper visa is available before inviting an international scholar to campus. This could affect our ability to pay honorariums or other forms of reimbursements. Payment Process for International Visitors

Four options are listed below. The first is recommended. The other options may be used only when the evidence for independent contractor status is clear or when the requirement for the independent contractor to pay his/her expenses directly is detrimental to the UO department contracting for the services.

Travel Reimbursement Methods

1. LUMP SUM FEE/preferred method

The travel/miscellaneous expenses will be paid by the independent contractor. They will charge you a fee for their services and it is paid using the Personal Services Contract form (PSC). No receipts are required and should not be retained by the Department. The total amount will be reported on a 1099 at the end of the calendar year.

2. FEE PLUS EXPENSES-paid by contractor & reimbursement by UO

An independent contractor will pay their travel/miscellaneous expenses personally and then apply for travel reimbursement after the trip is complete. The PSC that you negotiate with the contractor should state that travel/miscellaneous expenses will be reimbursed separately. In order to comply with our accountable plan for travel, the following guidelines must be followed.

Their tickets will be paid for with their credit card or a personal check. First class airfare or train fare is not an allowable expense and will not be reimbursed. If they want to travel first class you should use the lump sum method described above. They should be told that the UO can only reimburse for the lowest coach fare available at the time. Original receipt is required for reimbursement.

The independent contractor's credit card or personal check will be used to hold the room. Reimbursement for lodging is limited to our per diem.

Telephone calls home are considered to be a personal expense and cannot be reimbursed. Business phone calls may be included if they are applicable to UO business. Receipts are required for calls over $25.00.

Meals will be paid at the allowed per diem and only meals that have not been hosted or furnished by someone else.

Reimbursement is not allowed for hotel room movies, laundry services, tips or alcoholic beverages. These are considered a personal expense.

Travel reimbursement must be completed with the independent contractor's original signature. A copy of the PSC must be attached.

3. FEE/ PLUS TRAVEL EXPENSES-travel paid up front by UO

The PSC that you negotiate with the contractor should state that travel/miscellaneous expenses will be paid separately.

You will purchase their airfare for them. (copy of PSC must be attached)

You should retain the passenger receipt for the airline ticket. This should be attached to the travel reimbursement that is submitted for any other expenses that you need to reimburse to the contractor. If there won't be a travel reimbursement it should be kept with your department files.

Lodging arrangements can be made and paid for by your department up to the allowable per diem.

The lodging establishment should be asked to bill your department for room and tax only.

If it is a bed and breakfast you can pay up to lodging per diem plus breakfast. But cannot reimburse them for breakfast if it is included in the lodging bill.

Meals will be paid at the current per diem rate and only meals that have not been hosted by someone else. These will have to be reimbursed using a travel reimbursement form. Miscellaneous expenses, i.e. taxis, phones, etc. may also be reimbursed. Travel reimbursement must be completed with the independent contractor's original signature.

4. TRAVEL EXPENSES ONLY paid by contractor and reimbursement by UO
No PSC Completed

If the independent contractor is not charging a fee for their services, you will not have a PSC. The contractor will pay their travel expenses personally and apply for reimbursement. You will process a travel reimbursement as described in method 2.

Paid up front by UO

Method 3 will be used to pay for airfare/train and lodging. You will not have a PSC. A travel reimbursement may be needed for any meals or miscellaneous charges that they incur.