A-2441, JULY 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 86

A-2441: Jul 19, 1924

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IN WHICH CREDIT WAS DISALLOWED FOR AN ITEM OF $8 ON VOUCHER NO. 1694 OF THE MAY. IN HIS REPLY TO THE ORIGINAL SUSPENSION OF THIS ITEM THE COLLECTOR STATED: IN THE OPERATION OF MY AUTOMOBILE I RENEW OIL AND GREASE REGULARLY FOR EVERY THOUSAND MILES TRAVELED AND HAVE MADE NO CLAIM FOR REPLACEMENTS NOR FOR EXPENSE OF GREASE AND OIL CURRENTLY. HAVE SUBMITTED THESE ITEMS AFTER HAVING OPERATED MY CAR FOR AT LEAST A THOUSAND MILES TRAVELING ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. I BELIEVE IS A JUST CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED. INASMUCH AS THIS EXPENSE WAS INCURRED WHILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS. SUCH EXPENSE FOR OIL AND GREASE IS ALLOWABLE UNDER PAR. 12. IN THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW IT IS FURTHER STATED: THIS OFFICE BELIEVES YOUR INTERPRETATION TO BE IN ERROR.

A-2441, JULY 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 86

TRAVELING EXPENSES - USE OF OWN AUTOMOBILE - INTERNAL REVENUE CHARGES FOR LUBRICATION OF A PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHEN USED FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL BY THE OWNER THEREOF MAY BE REIMBURSED WHEN IDENTIFIED WITH AND ACTUALLY INCURRED AS AN INCIDENT TO THE PARTICULAR TRAVEL.

DECISION BY ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL GINN, JULY 19, 1924:

REX. B. GOODCELL, COLLECTOR AND SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, LOS ANGELES, CALIF., BY LETTER DATED APRIL 11, 1924, REQUESTS REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. C-7596-TI, DATED MARCH 4, 1924, IN WHICH CREDIT WAS DISALLOWED FOR AN ITEM OF $8 ON VOUCHER NO. 1694 OF THE MAY, 1923, ACCOUNTS, SAID ITEM REPRESENTING A CHARGE FOR LUBRICATION INCIDENT TO THE USE OF HIS OWN AUTOMOBILE IN TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS FROM LOS ANGELES TO SAN FRANCISCO AND RETURN, MAY 8 TO 13, 1923.

IN HIS REPLY TO THE ORIGINAL SUSPENSION OF THIS ITEM THE COLLECTOR STATED:

IN THE OPERATION OF MY AUTOMOBILE I RENEW OIL AND GREASE REGULARLY FOR EVERY THOUSAND MILES TRAVELED AND HAVE MADE NO CLAIM FOR REPLACEMENTS NOR FOR EXPENSE OF GREASE AND OIL CURRENTLY, BUT HAVE SUBMITTED THESE ITEMS AFTER HAVING OPERATED MY CAR FOR AT LEAST A THOUSAND MILES TRAVELING ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. THE EXPENSE SEEMS TO ME TO BE ENTIRELY WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LAW, AND I BELIEVE IS A JUST CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED, INASMUCH AS THIS EXPENSE WAS INCURRED WHILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS, AND SUCH EXPENSE FOR OIL AND GREASE IS ALLOWABLE UNDER PAR. 12, SECTION 1556,INTERNAL REVENUE MANUAL.

IN THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW IT IS FURTHER STATED:

THIS OFFICE BELIEVES YOUR INTERPRETATION TO BE IN ERROR, AND YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE FACT THAT GASOLINE AND OIL ARE ALLOWED AS A PROPER CHARGE WHERE A MACHINE IS USED IN CONNECTION WITH OFFICIAL BUSINESS. IT CERTAINLY CAN NOT BE SAID THAT LUBRICATION DOES NOT COME WITHIN THE OIL ALLOWANCE OR THAT IT IS SPECULATIVE IN CHARACTER AND THE AMOUNT CHARGED IS AN ESTIMATE. YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE FACT THAT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON FORM 63 1/2 WAS ACCOMPANIED BY RECEIPT SHOWING PAYMENT.

I DO NOT CONSIDER THE CHARGE FOR LUBRICATION ANY MORE OF A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE THAN THE CHARGE FOR GASOLINE, INASMUCH AS IT IS NECESSARY TO REFILL THE GASOLINE TANK AFTER TRAVELING A GIVEN NUMBER OF MILES, AND IT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE ON THE SAME GROUNDS. AS THE CHARGE FOR GASOLINE IS NOT A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE, NEITHER WOULD THE CHARGE FOR LUBRICATION BE, THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BEING THAT IT IS ONLY NECESSARY TO HAVE THE CAR LUBRICATED APPROXIMATELY EVERY ONE THOUSAND MILES.

AS COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL REVENUE, I DRIVE A CADILLAC SEDAN APPROXIMATELY ONE THOUSAND MILES EACH MONTH IN CONNECTION WITH MY OFFICIAL DUTIES. VARIOUS TIMES DURING THE YEAR I MAKE A COMPLETE TOUR OF MY DISTRICT, COVERING APPROXIMATELY THREE THOUSAND MILES. IT IS ONLY DURING SUCH TOURS THAT I EVER ASK FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR LUBRICATION CHARGES. THESE CHARGES ARE JUST AS ESSENTIAL IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF AN AUTOMOBILE AS IS THE CHARGE FOR GASOLINE. IT IS A CHARGE IN CONNECTION WITH TRANSPORTATION AND IN NO CASE REPRESENTS AN AMOUNT SPENT FOR REPAIRS OR UPKEEP OF CAR.

PARAGRAPH 12, OF SECTION 1556, OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE MANUAL, PROVIDES:

CHARGES FOR USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE CAN NOT BE ALLOWED AS A TRAVEL EXPENSE IN THE ACCOUNTS OF ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE. (20 COMP. DEC. 666, 6969; 21 ID. 219; 22 ID. 325, 378; 74 MS. COMP. DEC. 652.) CHARGES FOR SUCH NECESSARY INCIDENTAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF OWN CONVEYANCE AS ARE READILY ASCERTAINABLE, AS FOR GASOLINE, OIL, OR HORSE FEED, USED ON TRIP, CAN BE ALLOWED, BUT ONLY TO THE EXTENT OF THE ACTUAL COST THEREOF AS EVIDENCED BY VOUCHERS. CHARGES WHICH ARE SPECULATIVE IN CHARACTER, SUCH AS REPAIRS, CAN NOT BE ALLOWED. A COMMUTED RATE CHARGE CAN NOT BE ALLOWED IN ANY CASE. (21 COMP. DEC. 1; 74 MS. COMP. DEC. 653; 75 ID. 81; 76 ID. 98.)

TO BE AN ACTUAL EXPENSE FOR USE OF OWN CAR IN TRAVEL SUCH EXPENSE MUST BE IDENTIFIED WITH AND ACTUALLY BE INCURRED AS AN INCIDENT TO THE PARTICULAR TRAVEL.

THE VOUCHER CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, OF WHICH THE SUM IN QUESTION IS AN ITEM, SHOWS THAT THERE WAS TRAVEL BY OWN AUTO FROM LOS ANGELES TO SAN FRANCISCO AND RETURN, MAY 8 TO 13,A DISTANCE STATED AS 926 MILES, AND THE CLAIM FOR THE SPECIFIED AMOUNT IS ACCOMPANIED BY RECEIPT SHOWING PAYMENT FOR LUBRICATION. THE SUBVOUCHER IS DATED AT SAN FRANCISCO, MAY 10, AND IS AN ITEM OF A BILL FOR $15.28, WHICH INCLUDES LABOR AND SOME SMALL REPAIR PARTS.

THERE APPEARS NOTHING TO QUESTION THE REASONABLENESS OF THE CHARGE OR THAT IT WAS NOT CONNECTION WITH THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION.