B-232657, Aug 22, 1990

B-232657: Aug 22, 1990

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Leased to a corporation of which he is president. Savage - Lodging Expenses for Intermittent Consultant: The issue in this case is whether an intermittent consultant may be paid for lodging expenses when the consultant lodges in a condominium which he owns and holds as rental property but which he has leased out to a corporation. Of which he is the president. He was entitled to travel expenses while performing his consultant work in Atlanta. When he was away from his residence in Reston. Savage is the president of the corporation. Even though the condominium was leased to the Corporation at the time Mr. Savage was consulting in Atlanta. He lodged in the condominium while he was there.

B-232657, Aug 22, 1990

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - Travel - Temporary duty - Travel expenses - Reimbursement - Experts/consultants DIGEST: An intermittent consultant, while traveling, may not be paid for lodging in a condominium which the consultant owns and holds as rental property, leased to a corporation of which he is president, absent clear and convincing evidence that the consultant incurred expenses in addition to ownership lodging expenses.

Wayne C. Savage - Lodging Expenses for Intermittent Consultant:

The issue in this case is whether an intermittent consultant may be paid for lodging expenses when the consultant lodges in a condominium which he owns and holds as rental property but which he has leased out to a corporation, of which he is the president, at the time of lodging. /1/ Since the consultant has not demonstrated that he had any expenses in addition to his ownership expenses while staying at his condominium, he may not be reimbursed.

BACKGROUND

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employed Mr. Wayne C. Savage as an intermittent consultant. Under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5703 (1988), he was entitled to travel expenses while performing his consultant work in Atlanta, Georgia, when he was away from his residence in Reston, Virginia. Before consulting for EPA and unrelated to the travel to Atlanta for consulting, Mr. Savage and his wife bought a condominium in Atlanta and leased it out as a rental property to the Chelsea International Corporation (Corporation). According to the lease, Mr. Savage is the president of the corporation.

However, even though the condominium was leased to the Corporation at the time Mr. Savage was consulting in Atlanta, he lodged in the condominium while he was there. Although his travel voucher did not include a statement of any lodging expenses he incurred, Mr. Savage claims that since the condominium was leased, his expenses for lodging there are allowable.

OPINION

The general rule regarding federal employees or consultants entitled to be paid travel expenses is that if they lodge in their own residence, rather than in a commercial establishment, they may not be reimbursed for the usual expenses of maintaining a residence. Ownership expenses, such as mortgage and maintenance payments, would have occurred regardless of the travel; therefore, they are nonreimbursable. Sanford O. Silver, 56 Comp.Gen. 223 (1977); Robert Gray, B-203820, Oct. 19, 1981.

This general rule for nonreimbursement of ownership expenses has an exception. When the property owned is normally held and used for rental property and the employee/owner can show that the property would have been rented but for the owner's use of it during the travel period, the owner may be reimbursed certain ownership expenses. See Doubtful or Fraudulent Travel Claims, B-230385, Jan. 16, 1990. This exception does not apply in this case because Mr. Savage had his condominium rented to the Corporation and it does not appear that Mr. Savage's occupancy of the condominium during his trip to Atlanta caused him to lose any rental income.

Since Mr. Savage has not submitted any clear and convincing evidence that he incurred any additional lodging expenses, he may not be paid for lodging in his condominium.

/1/ This question was submitted by the Comptroller of the Environmental Protection Agency.