The IRS has announced that travelers have the option of reporting expenses based on the per diem rates that have been in place since January 1, or they may opt to use the newly published government rates for the last three months of the year.
The government rates are reflective of the new General Services Administration policy to change per diem rates as of the beginning of the federal government fiscal year, October 1, instead of waiting until the beginning of the calendar year.
According to Internal Revenue Service announcement, IR-2000-60, Business travelers have the option now to switch to the new government rates as of October 1 and through the end of the year, or to continue using the rates that have been in place since January 1, 2000. A switch to the new rates must remain in place for the rest of the year – once a switch is made to the rates going into effect on October 1, business travelers may not switch back to the predecessor rates for the rest of the calendar year.
Rates vary geographically, and taxpayers have a choice of using the specific rates by city, or using a high-low method, which simplifies the calculation of travel costs. Taxpayers who have been using the high-low method already this year are not eligible to switch to the new government rates for the last three months of the year.
In future years, the annual rate change will occur effective October 1.