Tax-Levy Travel

CUNY SPH policy supports local and out-of-town travel to conferences, meetings, workshops and other-related events in order to advance scholarship, learning and networking among faculty, students and staff.

The Office of Business Services and Finance is available to travelers and their Departmental Administrators in understanding and applying school, CUNY and NYS rules and regulations to obtain authorization to travel, make travel arrangements, submit travel expense reports and obtain reimbursement, as appropriate.

Faculty and Staff Travel

Faculty and staff who expect to travel using tax-levy funds as part of their on-going responsibilities should familiarize themselves with applicable NYS travel rules and regulations, including:

To improve your travel experience and expedite administrative requirements:

  • Seek guidance from your Department Administrator about applicable rules and procedures and systems including NYS travel rules and regulations (see link above), access to the Travel and Expense Module in CUNYFirst (link below) and access to CUNY’s preferred travel booking System, Concur.
  • Allow at least two months lead-time to plan out-of-town travel.
  • Discuss your travel plans and the potential impact on your work responsibilities (e.g. teaching and School events) with your supervisor prior to making any travel arrangements or taking a trip.
  • Obtain an approved Travel Authorization (TA) prior to travel. This signifies both supervisory and budgetary approval.
  • Secure the most economical method of travel, both fiscally and temporarily. NYS will not pay first-class travel and accommodations, such as the Acela train.
  • Seek guidance from your Department Administrator if you experience difficulties with creating a travel authorization or making travel arrangements in the Concur system.
  • Follow NYS and University procedures. Do not take purported ‘short-cuts’, such as charging travel expenses to your personal credit card. In doing so, you risk not being reimbursed for unauthorized expenses.
  • Take your trip. Maintain all travel-related receipts and meeting agendas. These documents are required to reconcile your travel expenses, upon your return to work.
  • Complete your travel Expense Report (ER) within five (5) business days of your return.

Faculty and staff who travel on a regular basis (at least once a year) using tax-levy funds will need to make sure that they and the Department Administrator have access to the relevant Travel and Expense modules in CUNYFirst. Please contact your Department Administrator for assistance with the required CUNYFirst Travel Expense User Access Request Form.

CUNY participates in the State of New York Travel Card Program which provides faculty and staff with a mechanism to pay directly for travel expenses without having to pay out-of-pocket expenses. Those who expect to travel on a regular basis (at least once a year) using tax-levy funds should request a New York State Travel Card (T-Card). Please contact the Business Office for assistance with obtaining a T-Card

T-Card Tips

  • T-Cards may be used to charge local transportation, airfare and other transportation costs, conference fees and lodging.
  • T-Cards cannot be used to charge meals. (Travelers may be reimbursed for dinners at the GSA Per Diem Rates).
  • T-Cards may not be used for non-tax levy expenses.
  • T-Cards are not transferable and may only be used for travel-related expenses by the person whose name appears on the card. The card holder is not authorized to make travel arrangements for other travelers with his or her T-Card. If this does happen, the card holder will need to request that the vendor remove the charges, pay for them out-of-pocket and seek reimbursement.
  • You, the traveler, are responsible for handling credit card disputes directly with the card issuer, Chase. If you believe there is an erroneous charge, you must contact Chase (847-488-3748) and follow-up with Chase until the dispute is resolved. The dispute resolution process must be completed within 50 days of the initial charge.
  • If you lose your card, please call the number above and report it stolen or missing and contact the CUNY SPH Business Office, which will turn the card off.
  • If you plan to take annual or other leave directly before or following your business trip, you must document that the transportation costs you are charging on the T-Card are the same or less than the cost if you had traveled on the days of the business trip. Charge any additional hotel nights to your personal credit card and not the T-Card.
  • Be mindful of fiscal year deadlines. The Business Office notify faculty and staff about the specific dates each year, well in advance of the deadlines. All required documents must be submitted correctly and on time. Documentation that is incomplete or submitted incorrectly may result in your trip expenses being charged to the subsequent fiscal year, thereby reducing the amount of funding that is available to you or your Department.
  • Be mindful of blackout periods (generally, toward the end of one fiscal year and at the beginning of the next) when T-cards should not be used. Please contact the Business Office if you are planning business-related travel during late June – early July.
  • Certain travel expenses (e.g. registration fees and transportation) can be pre-paid during one fiscal year, even if the travel will not occur until the subsequent fiscal year. (See further instructions under the Travel Authorization (TA) and Expense Report (ER) sections.)

Failure to follow these procedures, especially obtaining approved TAs in advance of travel and submitting complete ERs within five business days after returning from travel may jeopardize your reimbursement and your and your Department’s and the School’s T-Card and travel privileges.

CUNY encourages faculty and staff to use Concur, its online travel reservation system. Concur ensures an easy booking process for NYS travelers, including government rates for flights, hotels and car rentals as well as agent-assisted reservations.

  • First-time users must first create a profile at: CUNY CONCUR Self Registration. The login email has the format (Do not include “SPH” in the email.) * Concur provides tutorials on How to Update your Travel Profile and How to Book your Travel. Users must also have a T-Card and access to the CUNYFirst Travel and Expense module.
  • Concur works like other online travel services, such as Expedia and Orbitz.
  • Only the traveler, not the Department Administrator, is authorized to use Concur to book travel arrangements.
  • If you have questions about using Concur, contact CUNY’s AP Manager for Travel and Expenses, Yenny Rodriguez (646-664-3145).
  • Do NOT call Concur directly to make travel arrangements for you as they will charge a fee to your T-Card.

Concur charges transaction fees in the amounts listed below. These charges will appear on the T-Card and must be accounted for in the Expense Report (see below).

Con Transaction Fees Fee per Ticket
Concur Airline and Rail Transaction Fee $4.95
Agent Assisted Airline and Rail Transaction Fee $14.95
Emergency/After Hours Call Transaction Fee FREE

New York State defines “local travel” as travel which is less than 35 miles from your home or work location. Local travel includes professional meetings, conferences, workshops, one-day events and other School-related business, but excludes commuting. By definition, local travel does not include trips with overnight stays.

Local Travel Guidelines

  • Local travelers are expected to use the most efficient method of travel, both fiscally and temporally.
  • Local travelers are expected to use public transportation unless the destination is more than ½ mile from the nearest subway station or the traveler is expected to transport materials (more than would fit in one bag or briefcase).
  • Use your judgement and consult with your supervisor and provide a justification if your decision isn’t obvious.
  • Travel Authorizations are not required for local travel.
  • If you don’t have an unlimited MetroCard and need to use public transportation for work-related business, you must purchase a MetroCard (available at subway stations), retain the receipt and submit an Expense Report (ER) with a copy of the meeting agenda. You may save and submit these ERs monthly or quarterly.
  • Travelers using private personal vehicles for School-approved travel are entitled to a mileage allowance based on New York State Travel Mileage Rates. These rates may change periodically.
  • Parking fees can be charged on the T-Card (Link to T-Card, above).
  • Meals are not reimbursed for local travel. Day trip meals are reportable to the IRS and are taxable.
  • Travelers must file an Expense Report (Link below) to reconcile or be reimbursed for local travel expenses.

NYS defines “out of town” travel as travel which is more than 35 miles from your home or work location.

Before You Travel

  • At least two months prior to the departure date (and more, if known), obtain your supervisor’s approval to travel. Confirm the source and availability of funds.
  • Determine your exact travel itinerary, (e.g. flights, lodging, departure and return locations, dates and times). Consult the Concur website to determine if they are offering the lowest rates.
  • DO NOT ask your Department Administrator to be your personal travel agent (e.g. researching the lowest fares, changing your itinerary ~ you’ll need to do this yourself!)
  • Follow NYS travel rules and regulations in making your travel plans (e.g. GSA Per Diem Rates for meals, incidental expenses and lodging; use of preferred carriers/lowest cost transportation/economy and coach fares; rules about use of personal or rental vehicles, etc.)
  • Book your travel arrangements.
  • If the hotel rates in the conference area are higher than the maximum allowable GSA Per Diem Rates, complete the Request to Exceed Max Per Diem Form and submit it to the Business Office for approval. Submit the signed form along with your Travel Authorization.

An approved Travel Authorization (TA) ensures that travel meets a business purpose, is approved by the traveler’s supervisor and that the budget is available and pre-encumbered.

  • At least two months prior to the departure date, create or ask your proxy or Department Administrator to create a TA request for you in CUNY First (CF). Instructions are available on CUNY’s website:
  • Submit all required information on the TA.
  • Enter all travel details and estimated expenses.
  • Enter business purpose and provide explanations in the comments section (e.g. using Start-up funds; staying with family or friends and do not require lodging)
  • Assure that the travel authorization is complete, accurate and in compliance with CUNY Travel regulations.
  • Submit the completed TA for approval.
  • Once submitted, a TA# will be automatically generated. Keep a record of this number, as you will need to include it when booking travel arrangements through Concur, if you make changes to your itinerary, and when you return and submit and Expense Report.
  • If you are taking back-to-back business trips, you must submit two (2) TAs. Prepare one TA for the first leg of the trip; in the Comments section make sure to state, “Continuing trip” and reference the TA# for the second trip. Prepare a second TA for the second leg of the trip and return; in the Comments section make sure to state “Continuing trip” and reference the TA# for the first trip.
  • If you pre-paid for travel expenses (e.g. conference fees and transportation) in one fiscal year for a trip that will occur in a subsequent fiscal year, you will need to create two TA’s: one for the pre-paid expenses that occurred in one fiscal year and a second for the remaining expenses that you expect to incur in the subsequent year.
  • After you or your Department Administrator submits your TA request:
    • Your supervisor and then the CUNY SPH Business Manager will automatically receive an electronic notification to review and approve your request.
    • After about a week, check your TA in CF to make sure it has been approved; this information is available at the bottom of the screen. You will not receive automatic notification about whether the TA is approved or disapproved.
  • Your TA must be approved before you are authorized to travel.
  • The length of time it takes for your TA to be approved depends on how quickly it is reviewed and acted upon by the various levels of approvers, but generally takes a couple of days.
  • Once your TA has been approved, you may proceed to make travel arrangements through Concur. If you find less expensive lodging and/or transportation rates through another source, use it. Keep a copy of the Concur display, showing higher rates. Include an explanation as to why you are not using Concur in the Comments section of the TA.
  • Enter your TA#, as instructed in Concur.
  • Use your T-Card to pay for your transportation and lodging reservations.
  • Do NOT use your personal credit card to pay.

New York State Law exempts New York State governmental entities such as CUNY from the payment of New York State sales and use taxes on local travel related expenses within New York State.

  • If you plan to travel within the State, contact the Business Office prior to travel to obtain the required tax-exemption documents: NYS Department of Taxation and Finance – Tax Exemption Letter –present this to any vendors from whom you purchase supplies, equipment or other goods. Exemption Certificate for Tax on Occupancy of NYS Hotel or Motel Rooms (ST-129) – present this to the hotel or motel where you are staying.
  • Review charges and invoices carefully to ensure that you are not charged State taxes. The State will not pay for such charges. If State taxes are erroneously charged, you the traveler will be responsible for asking the vendor to credit them back to the T-Card.

During Your Travel

  • Retain all original itemized receipts (e.g. for transportation, lodging) and travel documents (e.g. boarding pass, eTicket). You will need them to create your Expense Report.
  • Do not use your T-Card to pay for meals. You will be reimbursed at the GSA per diem rates for breakfast (20%) and dinner (80%). New York State does not reimburse for lunches.
  • Be aware of what expenses are and are not allowable
  • Reimbursable expenses include: Registration fees, lodging, transportation including location transportation, business related telephone calls and Internet connection fees, baggage transfer and storage expenses, supplies and materials

After You’ve Completed Your Travel

Within five (5) business days of returning from a trip, travelers or their designees must complete an Expense Report (ER) in CUNYFirst. Creating an ER reconciles the T-Card and the trip. Instructions are available on CUNY’s website:

  • As you make charges on your T-Card, Citibank automatically sends them to CUNYFirst; CUNYFirst stores the charges in “My Wallet”.
  • All charges on your T-Card must be reconciled through “My Wallet” by you or your proxy and a valid ER completed, even if you had no out-of-pocket expenses.
  • In creating the ER, you or your proxy will be required to:
    • Confirm that all T-Card expenses appear in “My Wallet” before creating the ER by comparing those expenses with the TA and receipts submitted by the traveler. (Note: It generally takes 7-14 days after the merchant charges the expense to the T-card for Citibank to load the transactions to CF.)
    • Change the “My Wallet” Expense Type entries from “VISA transaction” to the correct Expense Type for the transaction, (e.g. PSC Taxi/Car Service, Non-PSC Train Ticket, etc.) from the drop-down menu, before you move the transactions to your Expense Report.
    • Move all trip transactions from “My Wallet” into the ER.
    • Replace the “estimated” T-Card entries from the TA with the actual transactions from “My Wallet” in the ER.
    • Include the actual date(s) of the expense(s).
    • In the comments section, provide the location date and time of departure and return, along with normal work schedule. For example:
      • Depart: 4/3/2018 8pm
      • Return: 4/10/20178 10pm
      • Normal work schedule: M-F 9am-5pm
    • Upload all original travel receipts (e.g. lodging, transportation, local travel etc.) and documents (e.g. eTicket), along with a copy of the meeting agenda
    • Include written justifications and explanations for all excess and new expenses
    • Save the ER; print the ER Summary; obtain the traveler and the traveler’s supervisor signatures on the ER Summary.
    • Make sure that a separate ER is created for every trip or event for which the T-Card is used and that all expenses for each trip are included in on one ER (except when charges are pre-paid in one fiscal year for a trip that is taken in the subsequent year – see Travel Authorization section).
  • On a Monthly Basis, Department Administrators should run reports in CF to determine whether there are ‘stale’ TAs or incomplete ERs and work with travelers to complete and submit them.

Student Travel

  • Financial support for travel may be available to CUNY SPH students who present their work at the Annual Public Health Association meetings which are held in October – November each fall. The Office of Student and Academic Affairs will notify students at the beginning of the academic year about the availability of and procedures for obtaining such funding.
  • The CUNY SPH Graduate Student Graduate Association (GSGA) may also provide financial assistance to CUNY SPH students who present their work and participate in professional meetings. Students may contact GSGA at to learn more about the availability of and requirements for such funding.

Non-Employee Travel

If you need to make travel arrangements for a non-tax-levy employee or non-CUNY guest for CUNY business (e.g. out-of-town job candidate interview or guest speaker), please contact the Business Office for assistance.

  • DO NOT ask the traveler to lay out personal funds for hotel or transportation.
  • The Business Office will use a Net Card to procure transportation and lodging arrangements, as needed; will provide travelers with the required documentation and information; and will complete the required reconciliation/ERs. Please ask the traveler to retain all original itemized receipts (e.g. for transportation, lodging) and travel documents (e.g. boarding pass, eTicket). * The Business Office will provide Exemption Certificate for Tax on Occupancy of Hotel or Motel Rooms (ST-129) so that taxes are not charged for lodging accommodations and approval to Exceed Maximum Per Diem Rate (In links)
  • Non-CUNY employees and guests who require reimbursement for travel expenses should complete the Claim Form for Travel Reimbursement by a Non-Employee