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Moving, Relocation and Temporary Housing

The payment of moving, relocation, and temporary housing expenses for  faculty and staff members from department current expenditure funds may be authorized to the extent that funds are available and approved in advance by the appropriate department head.  Additional approval by the Principal Investigator is required when appointee’s expenses are to be paid from a grant or contract.  All payments shall be made in accordance with procedures outlines in the Amherst Purchasing Policy/Manual.

A. Moving Expense Categories

Moving expense payments made by the University must be separated into the accurate category to ensure proper tax reporting and withholding with the use of the Moving Expense form.  The categories as outlined below are nonqualified expenses, qualified expenses paid to employees, or qualified expenses paid to third parties.  For a comprehensive publication explaining the deduction of expenses for moving, see IRS Publication 521.

  • Nonqualified Moving Expenses: Nonqualified moving expenses are payments by the University for the following:
    • Temporary living costs
    • House hunting
    • The costs of meals consumed while traveling
    • Storage expenses in excess of 30 consecutive days
    • Return trips to former residence, etc.
    • Expenses submitted one year or more from the date the employee first reports to work at the new location.
    • Transportation expenses in excess of reasonable costs between the employee’s former residence and the employee’s new residence by the shortest and most direct route.  For example, an extra night’s stay in one location while en route.

Whether the employee is reimbursed or the payment goes directly to a third party, these payments must be reported as federal wages in Box 1 of Form W-2 and are subject to income tax withholding and Medicare taxes.

  • Qualified Moving Expenses: Each of the following requirements must be satisfied before classifying an expense as "Qualified".
  • The 50-Mile Test: No moving expenses can be excluded from the employee's income unless the employee's new work site is at least 50 miles farther from his former residence than his old work-site was from his old residence.
  • The Time Test: During the 12 months immediately following the employee's arrival in the new location, the employee is employed full time for at least 39 weeks.
  • Move is closely related to the start of work: The employee's move must be closely related, both in time (generally within 12 months to start date) and place (generally the distance from the employee's new home to the new job location should not be greater than the distance from the employee's former home to the new job location), to the start of work at the new job location.

Qualified moving expenses include the following:

  • Packaging/Storage/Shipping of household goods (personal effects and property) and the reasonable expense for moving an automobile.  The MHEC Interstate Moving Contract must be used for contracting with movers for payments made directly to a company.  All moving expenses paid by the University to a moving company should be requested on a standard purchase order form and charged to account code 761590.
  • Instructional and research material in addition to the personal household goods outlined above when approved as part of the employee agreement.
  • Transportation expenses are the costs for the faculty or staff member and family en route to the position assigned including lodging, airfare or mileage (see special IRS mileage rate for moving)  using the shortest and most direct route.
  • Rental Trucks/Trailers may be authorized if complete documentation is presented that includes receipts for gasoline purchases and truck rental.  Reimbursement will be made for the hiring of assistance to help with loading or unloading of household goods when this is the least expensive method.

All travel costs include only the cost between former and new residence by the shortest and most direct route. 

  • Qualified Moving Expenses Paid to Employees: These payments are not taxable income to the employee, are not included in Box 1 of Form W-2, and are not subject to income tax withholding or Medicare taxes.  They are reported in Box 12 of Form W-2 and are identified with code P.
  • Qualified Moving Expenses Paid to Third Parties: Qualified moving expenses paid directly to third parties (e.g., to a moving company) are not reported anywhere on the Form W-2.  All moving expenses paid by the University to a moving company should be requested on a standard purchase order form and charged to account code 761590.

B. Unallowable Moving/Temporary Housing Expenses

The following expenses should never be paid/reimbursed:

  • Cost of breaking a lease
  • Cost of selling or buying a new house
  • Security deposits
  • Moving animals other than household pets
  • Cost of connecting or disconnecting appliances or utilities
  • Moving non household goods
  • Repairs/remodeling of new or former home
  • Cost of disposing contents of former home

C. Recordkeeping/Employee Reimbursements

The Moving Expense form must be prepared and submitted to the Controller’s Office whenever the University reimburses an employee or pays a third party on the employee’s behalf for moving expenses.  If there is more than one payment, a separate moving expense form is required with each payment.  Original forms are forwarded to the Controller’s Office before being sent to the Human Resources and copies are kept on file in the Controller’s Office.
It is important for incoming employees who have an approved moving allowance to maintain an accurate record of expenses paid to move.  Receipts, bills, cancelled checks, credit card statements and mileage logs are all items that should be saved. All receipts must be itemized showing proof of payment. 
Caution: Reimbursements to new employees for out of pocket moving expenses they incur will not be available until the new employee starts receiving compensation through Human Resources.  Employee reimbursements follow the same IRS accountable plan rules as any employee reimbursements.  Please see section 13 item F, Timeliness, for the IRS accountable plan rules.  All reimbursements should be charged to the “moving expense/moving mileage” expense type, account code 726910, in the Expense Module.  The University is required to report payments to or on behalf of an employee for moving household goods or related expenses to the Internal Revenue Service and Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

D. References

IRS Pub 521:

http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/lists/0,,id=97819,00.html

Contract Vendors for Moving:

http://www.umass.edu/procurement/aboutcont.html

Moving Mileage Rates:

http://www.umass.edu/aco/ap/aptravelmilage.htm

 

 

 


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