Mark your calendars for October 1, 2017, when the 2018 standard per diem rates for the lower 48 Continental United States (CONUS, because everyone loves an acronym) go into effect.
These rates, set by the General Services Administration (GSA, see acronym comment above), represent the maximum amount that federal employees can receive in travel reimbursements when traveling on official business. Many employers choose to base their per diem rates on those from the GSA, although this is not required. If a private employer provides a per diem allowance that is equal to or less than the GSA’s rate for that travel area, it is excluded from the employee’s taxable income.
Let’s cut to the chase. The new standard rates are:
Lodging: $93 per night (up slightly from the previous rate of $91 per night)
Meals and incidental expenses: $51 per night (no change)
Total (in case you haven’t had your coffee yet): $144 per night
Other things that may be good to know:
- There are 332 Non-Standard Areas (get ready…NSAs) that have higher per diem rates than the standard CONUS rate.
- The GSA has a mobile app with per diem rates.
- You can look up 2018 rates by state, city or zip on the GSA’s website to tailor your per diem rates for your company’s business travel reimbursement policy.
- Aspen, Colorado in February and March has the highest per diem rate ($424 per night). Good to know if you’re planning a company meeting there.