Lesson 9: Returning from Your Trip
What are the next steps when I return home from official travel?
When you return from your trip, you will have to complete a Travel Voucher (TV) or a similar form at your agency to present your travel claim for expenses. Here are few key tips to remember:
- Within five business days of your return from official travel, complete and submit the TV.
- Provide all necessary information from your trip including receipts as required by your agency.
- Understand the sign-off process at your agency and follow-up to help speed your claim through the approval process.
- Set up direct deposit with your bank ahead of time to receive your reimbursement quickly. This way, you will not have to wait for a check to be mailed.
- Use the amount reimbursed by your agency to pay the statement in full by the payment due date. If you do not pay the balance on your travel account bill, it will become delinquent.
How do I pay my GSA SmartPay® Travel card/account bill?
- You will receive a statement notification, either electronically or through the mail, from the contractor bank once a month for your GSA SmartPay Travel card/account.
- The bill will be issued for all travelers in your office on the same date each month. This is called the billing cycle date.
- When you receive the statement, verify all of the charges listed.
- The full amount of undisputed transactions is due to the contractor bank by the payment due date indicated on the statement, whether or not you have been reimbursed by your agency.
- Please note that the GSA SmartPay Travel card is a charge card, and not a credit card. Therefore, no minimum payment can be made to keep the account from becoming delinquent. You must pay the full amount listed on the statement by the payment due date. If payment is not received in a timely manner, you may lose your charging privileges and adversely affect your ability to perform your job responsibilities.
- Payment may be made electronically, by mail or via mobile app as permitted by the agency.
- Please note that if you have no outstanding transactions for the billing cycle date, you will not receive an invoice. When all outstanding charges are paid, you will receive a statement the next month to reflect the payment.
What is split disbursement?
Split disbursement provides for payments to be made by the agency on behalf of the card/account holders. At the card/account holder’s direction and in accordance with agency policy, disbursement is split. The bank receives a direct payment by the agency of the card/account holder specified/claimed amount. The rest of the payment is disbursed to a card/account holder account or directly to the card/account holder. Large ticket items such as common carrier, hotel and rental car charges are commonly paid directly to the contractor bank on behalf of the card/account holder while other disbursements are paid to the employee.
Split disbursement is an effective tool to reduce delinquency and improve refunds paid to the agency. It will require coordination with the bank to ensure proper payments are made by the government and properly posted to a card/account holder’s account.
When is the payment due date?
Payment for all undisputed charges must be made in full by the payment due date, which is 25-30 days after the closing date on the statement (depending on the contractor bank). The payment due date is printed on each bill.
When is my card/account considered past due?
An account is considered past due if payment for the undisputed principal amount has not been received within 45 calendar days from the billing date.
Consequences of late payment include:
- Bank representatives will notify you.
- Your A/OPC is notified that the amount is past due.
- Your supervisor may also be notified.
What is salary offset?
The Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-264) [PDF, 9 pages] mandates the use of the government contractor-issued travel card/account for all employees on official government business. The Act allows an agency to collect from an employee’s disposable pay any undisputed delinquent amounts that are owed to a contractor bank, upon written request from the contractor. This is known as salary offset.
Each agency must follow the due process requirements of the Act as presented in the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) before collecting undisputed delinquent amounts on behalf of the contractor bank. Each agency must reach agreement with its bank on the process to be used for submission of the request and handling of the request internally.
Specific issues to be addressed by the agency include:
- Determining whether the individual is still employed by the agency.
- Determining whether the employee has been reimbursed for travel expenses.
- Determining the amount of disposable pay available for collection. Salary may be subject to other garnishments, etc.
- Payroll’s ability to process the request and provide a payment to the bank.
- Legal compliance with the terms of the Act.
- Union notification, if applicable.
A multifunctional team will be required to implement this process. Depending on your organization’s structure, this team would include the A/OPC and representatives from travel policy, payroll, human resources, labor relations and Office of the General Counsel. It is suggested that you work closely with your bank to establish a process that works for all parties.
Can my card/account be suspended if I don’t pay the bill?
Yes. A card/account may be suspended on the 61st calendar day from the billing date if payment of the full amount of undisputed charges is not received by the close of the 60th calendar day from the billing date in which the charge appeared. Consequences of suspension include:
- You will be unable to use the travel card/account.
- Bank representatives will notify you.
- Your A/OPC is notified that the card/account has been suspended.
- In many agencies, higher level officials are notified.
- The suspension will count toward the two suspensions, which will result in cancellation of the travel card/account when it becomes delinquent a third time.
When does card/account cancellation occur?
A card/account may be canceled if:
- It has been suspended two times during a 12-month period for undisputed amounts and is past due again.
- There is misuse on the travel card/account and the A/OPC has approved the cancellation.
- It is past due for undisputed amounts on the 126th calendar day from the billing date.
The A/OPC and/or GSA SmartPay Contracting Officer reserves the right to cancel an Individually Billed Account (IBA) under his/her purview and shall document the reasons for the cancellation.
What are the consequences of card/account cancellation?
- You will be unable to use your travel card/account and it will not be reinstated.
- Your ability to do your job may be affected if you are not able to travel and obtain government discounts.
- The cancellation may be reported to your supervisor and to your human resources officer.
- The cancellation may result in a personnel action such as a notice or letter being placed in your official personnel record.
- The cancellation may be reported to credit bureaus and your personal credit rating may suffer.
- A late fee may be imposed on the uncollected balance.
- The contractor bank may begin collection actions.
- You will be liable for fees related to collection actions.
- The contractor bank may request a salary offset from your agency.
- At 180 calendar days past due, the bank writes-off the card/account as a bad debt and credit bureaus are again notified.
Is there a chart showing when cards/accounts may be suspended/canceled?
|Number Calendar Days||Account Status/Action|
|46 days from the billing date||Pre-Suspension|
|61 days from the billing date||Suspension/Pre-Cancellation|
|126 days from the billing date||Cancellation|
|180 days from the billing date||Charge-Off/Write-Off|
Please refer to your agency policy for specific delinquency stages as they may differ.Next