If the corporate relocation package being offered to you requires that you perform a house hunting expedition on your own, it’s likely your employer will reimburse you for many associated expenses – including travel, lodging, and meals to name the most common. Naturally, you’ll want to check with your employer to determine what expenses are covered and what exclusions there are.
Here's a checklist to help you keep track of your expenses.
- Get yourself a notebook and keep it with you at all times. This will come in handy as you keep track of all your receipts. You don’t want to have to hunt them down after your move.
- Buy yourself a sturdy file folder. You will need this to keep all of your printed receipts and invoices in one safe place. Even if you decide to track everything electronically in Excel, your employer may require you to turn in physical receipts to prove your expenses.
- If you’re hitting the road and driving your own car, track all mileage, and any additional fares and tolls you’ll be required to pay. Make sure you obtain receipts for all road travel expenses.
- If you’re traveling by plane, train or bus, save all itineraries that include cost.
- Track all meals and refreshments you buy and keep receipts, even if it’s just a simple soda purchase. Alcohol purchases may not be covered by your employer’s reimbursement plan.
- Track all car rental costs and keep receipts.
- Make note of all money spent on cab fare, shuttle and public transportation fees and ensure you obtain receipts for these.
- Obtain documentation for all lodging costs. You will likely not be able to submit for reimbursement of entertainment expenses like in-hotel movie rentals, so be sure to make note of those costs so you can subtract them later.
- Track all business related phone calls you make. Depending on your cell phone’s mobile plan, being out of network may result in you incurring additional roaming charges and long distance fees. Make note of the dates and times of all calls made or received, as well as their duration. This will make it easier for you to go through your phone bill later on and include any additional charges with your expense report.
- Pet owners may have to make arrangements for their pets to be boarded during their time away from home. Add this to your list of expenses but many companies may not reimburse this type of expense.
Remember that the IRS doesn’t consider a house hunting trip to be a deductible expense. What this means is that any money you spend while house hunting for which your employer reimburses you will be reported to the IRS as taxable income – and you won’t be able to deduct those expenses when you file your personal taxes. For this reason, you may want to consider keeping costs as minimal as possible to prevent from inadvertently boosting yourself into a higher earnings bracket come tax season.