Travel Less than 24 Hours
The IRS Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide, Publication 15-B states that in order for the reimbursement of meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) to be excludeable from a traveler's income, the individual must be "away from home" in the pursuit of business on a temporary basis. Merely working overtime or at a great distance from an employee's residence does not create excludeable reimbursements for travel expenses if the employee returns home without spending the night or stopping for substantial "sleep or rest." Please refer to IRS Publication 15-B for more information about employee fringe benefits.
California State University Travel Procedures and Regulations, Section V.C., Travel of Less Than 24 Hours, does not allow for the reimbursement of meal expenses for travel of less than 24 hours unless the traveler is away from his/her home overnight as supported by a lodging receipt or other evidence explaining why the traveler was unable to obtain a receipt.
If the overnight stay requirement is allowed by the approving authority, the amount of the meal(s) reimbursed becomes reportable and taxable. The amount will be reported to Payroll and included in Box 1 of the employee's W-2 form. Under no circumstances will expenses for lunch be reimbursed for travel of less than 24 hours.