Employee Moving and Relocation

Employee moving and relocation expenses are defined as the reasonable costs incurred by a new employee, or by a current employee who transfers to a new University location, for moving household goods and personal effects, and the cost of travel to the University location for the individual and his or her household members. These costs can be reimbursed, in part or in full, when supported by invoices and receipts.

Departments can use the Moving and Relocation Checklist as a guide to help ensure that moving and relocation expenses are correctly paid and reimbursed.

High-Level Relocation Process Overview 

High level diagram of relocation process

Understanding Moving and Relocation Policies

Eligibility

Employees with academic appointments, Management and Senior Professional/Professional and Support Staff (MSP/PSS) and Senior Management Group (SMG) employees may be reimbursed for all or a portion of eligible moving and relocation expenses, or the University may pay vendors directly for applicable costs.

Moving expenses may be paid when a current UC employee is required to transfer or accepts a position at a campus outside a reasonable commuting distance.

General Policy Information

  1. All moves of the employee and members of his or her household should be completed within one year of the date an appointee first reports to the new job, even if his or her appointment date was effective prior to the report date.
  2. An employee who voluntarily separates prior to completing one year of service and does not accept a position within the UC system within 12 months of the initial appointment may be required to pay back 100% of moving and relocation expenses.

Applicable Policies

Moving and relocation is covered by several policies, with specific policies applying depending on the type of appointment:

Appointment Type Policy
All Travel Regulations, G-28
IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses
Academic Academic Personnel Manual (APM) 550, 560, 561
MSP/PSS Policies and Regulations Governing Moving and Relocation, G-13
SMG Regents Policy 7710 - Senior Management Group Moving Reimbursement

Relocation Expense Definitions

Terms Definitions

Employee

Prospective employee or appointee

Members of Household

IRS Section 1.217-2(b)(10) defines “members of household” as other individuals who are members of the taxpayer’s household, and who have the taxpayer’s former residence and the taxpayer’s new residence as their principal place of abode. A member of the taxpayer’s household is any individual, including domestic partner, residing at the taxpayer’s residence who is neither a tenant nor an employee of the taxpayer.

Household Goods and Personal Effects

Household goods and personal effects include furniture, clothing, household appliances, and other items that are usual and necessary for the maintenance of a household.

Freight Costs

Freight costs include the total charges for transporting household effects from the point of origin to the point of destination. Freight costs also include associated charges such as packing containers, labor, and insurance of household and personal effects.

Moving and Transferring Expenses

Moving and transferring expenses are defined as the reasonable costs of moving household goods and personal effects to a new residence. These include the cost of travel to the university location for the prospective employee and his or her immediate family.

Reasonable Costs

Reasonable costs are costs that are considered to be reasonable under the circumstances of a particular move such as travel from the old to the new residence made via a conventional mode of transportation using the shortest and most direct route available and in the shortest period of time normally required to travel the distance.

Nontaxable Reimbursement Amounts

Nontaxable reimbursement is a reimbursement of moving expenses that are not included in the employee’s gross income. The amount is recorded on the employee’s W-2 form as a fringe benefit which is excluded from taxation. The following expenses are nontaxable:

  • Packing, crating, and transporting of household goods and personal effects
  • Insurance and in-transit storage charges
  • Travel and lodging expenses associated with the final move to the new residence for employee and members of employee’s household

Taxable Reimbursement Amounts

Reimbursement for relocation expenses incurred that must be included in an employee’s gross income and are therefore taxable. The following expenses are taxable:

  • Pre-move house-hunting expenses once an offer has been accepted such as travel, meals, car rentals, and lodging
  • Temporary lodging at the new work location for up to 30 days and meals for up to 30 days if the temporary location does not have cooking facilities
  • Meals associated with the final move to the new residence
  • Mileage reimbursements in excess of the rate published in Travel Regulations UC Policy G-28, Appendix A
Commuting Distance The distance between the individual's new job location and his or her former principal residence must be at least 50 miles more than the distance between the individual's previous work location and his or her formal principal residence.

Reimbursement and Tax Treatment of Relocation Expenses

The matrix below serves as a general guideline in understanding reimbursable, non-reimbursable, taxable, and non-taxable moving and relocation expense and may not capture all expense types and conditions. In addition, it is not intended as a replacement for policy. For more detailed information on policy guidelines and requirements refer to UC Policy G-13, Policy and Regulations Governing Moving and Relocation.

Download a PDF version of the Moving and Relocation Taxability Matrix

Expense Category Type of Expense/Purpose Reimbursable? Taxable? Reportable? Comments
Pre-Move & House Hunting Expenses Airfare - Return Trips No     Generally, return trips are not reimbursable.
House Hunting-Travel expenses, meals & lodging, & rental car for pre-move No     Generally, house hunting trips are not reimbursable.
Moving Expenses - Personal Travel (Final Trip) Relocation Allowance No     Generally, relocation allowance is not allowed.
Airfare Yes No Yes

Employee: First trip associated with start of work (one-way coach airfare) is considered a final trip.

Family members: Airfares for final trip (one-way coach airfare).

Connecting and disconnecting utilities, but not refundable deposits  Yes No Yes  
Domestic Pets/Household Pets Yes Yes Yes Transportation of domestic pets (does not include livestock) normally kept or permitted in residence, from the old to the new residence. Expenses associated with kenneling of such pets are not reimbursable.
Gasoline for rental vehicle Yes No Yes  
Household Goods Yes No Yes Packing, crating, unpacking, uncrating, and transporting of household goods & personal effects from former primary residence to the new primary residence. Limited to one household move per appointee.
Insurance Yes No Yes Cost of insurance for household goods while in process of being transported to new residence, if incurred within any 30-day period after removal of the household goods and effects from the former primary residence.
Lodging - old residence to new residence- Yes No Yes Lodging expenses incurred while in the general location of the old residence "within one day" after it is no longer suitable for occupancy, and while en route from the old residence to the new residence including the day of arrival at the new residence.

Lodging cap - $275 nightly room rate excluding taxes.
Meal expenses - old residence to new residence Yes Yes Yes Meals expenses incurred in traveling/moving from old residence to the new residence. Actual meal and incidental costs are not to exceed G-28 Travel Regulations daily travel meal cap.
Motor Vehicles Yes No Yes Up to two personal motor vehicles (motorcycles included) per household; but not motorized recreational vehicles, boats, kayaks, canoes, airplanes, camping vehicles, snow machines, jet skis, etc.
Movers - Hired & Paid by Employee Yes No Yes  
Movers - Hired by Employee but Paid by University Directly to movers (Final Trip) Yes No No  
Moving Van Rental Yes No Yes Reimbursement based on mileage is not allowed.
Parking & Tolls Yes No Yes  
Personal Car Mileage Yes No Yes Mileage rate for moving and relocation differs from "University Business Travel". Refer to G-28 Travel Regulations for latest reimbursement mileage rate. Mileage rate includes the cost of gas and wear and tear on the personal vehicle.
Rental Vehicle Yes No Yes When traveling by rental car, only actual expenses, such as the rental fees, gas, parking fees, and tolls are nontaxable. There is no mileage rate reimbursement for rental vehicles.
Storage - First 30 days Yes No Yes Temporary storage of household goods and personal effects while in process of being transported from old residence to the new residence. Maximum storage costs of 30 days if employee is unable to move directly into the new residence.
Temporary Living at New Job Location (after day of arrival) Lodging Yes Yes Yes Up to 30 days furnished temporary lodging, including residential parking fees.
Meals Yes Yes Yes Up to 30 days of residence in temporary lodging:
  • If temporary lodging has cooking facilities then only groceries (not meals) will be reimbursed.
  • If temporary lodging does not have any cooking facilities then only meals (not groceries) will be reimbursed in accordance with G-28 Travel Regulations meal limits.
Parking Fee/Permit for Container Drop-off Ye Yes Yes  
Other Relocation Expenses Loss on the sale of a home No      
Sale of Former Primary Residence Costs Yes Yes Yes The sale of the residence must occur within twelve (12) months of the appointee's start date. The amount of reimbursement will depend on prevailing practices within the area of the sale. Actual and reasonable selling costs include:
  • Brokerage commission, not to exceed 3% of the final sales price or $30,000, whichever is less.
  • Non-recurring closing costs not to exceed 2% of the selling price, not to exceed $20,000, whichever is less.
  • Mortgage prepayment penalties not to exceed $15,000.
  • Miscellaneous seller's costs customary to the area that may be reimbursed if determined appropriate by the University, not to exceed $10,000.
Settlement of Unexpired Lease (Former Primary Residence) Yes Yes Yes If appointee must settle leave to relocate to the new assignment, actual and reasonable costs include:
  • Reimbursement shall not exceed six (6) months of the lease or $25,000, whichever is less, including any penalty paid to terminate the lease.
  • Reimbursement is not allowed if the appointee knows or reasonably should have known that relocation was imminent prior to entering a lease agreement.
  • Reimbursement is not allowed for the cost of physical improvements intended to enhance marketability of the leasehold by improving the condition or appearance of the residence.
Any part of the purchase price of a new home. No      
Costs Associated with Purchase of New Primary Residence Yes Yes Yes Actual and reasonable costs include closing costs, mortgage fees, and points.
Income Taxes/Real Estate Taxes/Property Taxes, and assessments associated with purchase or sale of primary residence No      
Cost of physical improvements intended to enhance salability by improving the condition or appearance of the residence No      
Storage > 30 days No     Generally, storage costs > 30 days are not reimbursable.
Other Non-Reimbursable Expenses No    

Refer to G-13, Policy and Regulations Governing Moving and Relocation for more details on non-reimbursable expenses.

Examples of non-reimbursable expenses include (but not limited to):

  • Assembly and disassembly of unusual items such as swing sets, swimming pools, satellite dishes, etc.
  • Canned, frozen, or bulk foodstuffs
  • Building suppliers, farm equipment, and firewood
  • Plants

Be sure to review and understand all applicable policies for your appointment type before contracting with any suppliers.

Obtaining Prior Approval

Prior approval is required for expenses that will exceed the policy threshold. Obtain exceptional approval prior to incurring expenses and provide evidence of exceptional approval with the Travel Expense Voucher (TEV).

Contracting with Suppliers

Departments may contract directly with suppliers to provide moving and relocation services. In these cases, the University pays the cost of transporting the household goods and personal effects of a new appointee or employee directly to a common carrier or household mover.  Use the "Relocation/Household Moves" Form located in the "Forms for Specific Purchases" section of BearBuy.  For more information about contracting directly with suppliers and BearBuy, see the Supply Chain Management website.

Submitting Relocation Expense Reimbursement Requests

Moving and relocation expense reimbursement requests are submitted using a Travel Expense Voucher (TEV). The TEV must be completed and submitted within 60 days after the expenses were paid or incurred. Late reimbursement of expenses after 60 days may be taxable to the employee. All official travel must be properly authorized, reported and reimbursed in accordance with UC Policy.

  • The expenses must be listed in detail, supported by original receipts or equivalent electronic receipts that contain the same level of detail as an acceptable paper receipt, and approved by the employee’s department head or other authorized official. Some expenses require receipts; these expenses will not be reimbursed without receipts.
  • Provide additional information to explain any unclear requests for reimbursement. Any expenses incurred under a name other than the employee's must have an explanation of the relationship to the employee.
  • Add the position of the new hire, (e.g., Academic or SMG) to the "Purpose of the Trip" box.

The TEV must be approved by an Authorized Approver with a current Signature Authorization. TEV Approvers should check to ensure expense reimbursements were not previously reimbursed and that all expenses are allowable. Approvers should verify that receipts required by G-28 Travel Regulations are attached:

  • All airline, rental car, and lodging expenses with all charges itemized (e.g., taxes, telephone, etc.)
  • Meal, local transportation, and miscellaneous expenses costing $75 or more
  • Gifts provided to a host costing $25 or more

Accounts Payable Review and Employee Reimbursement

Accounts Payable (AP) will review the completed Travel Expense Voucher and determine which relocation reimbursements are allowable, unallowable, taxable, and non-taxable.

  • Taxable moving and relocation reimbursement: Accounts Payable reports the taxable relocation expenses (considered imputed income) to Payroll.  Payroll will include the reimbursement and deduct applicable payroll taxes (e.g., income tax and other statutory deductions) on the employee's paycheck, and include the taxable reimbursement in the annual reporting of imputed income and taxes on the employee's annual W-2. 
  • Non-taxable moving and relocation reimbursement: Accounts Payable pays the non-taxable portion of the reimbursement.  Reimbursement will be issued within 10 business days after receipt of the TEV by AP provided the TEV form and supporting documents are complete and accurate, and the new hire has officially started work at UCSF.

Contacts

Moving and relocation practices vary between the Campus and Medical Center. If you have questions about moving and relocation, contact:

Resources