Paragraph 2-3.1c of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) provides that the miscellaneous expense allowance shall not be used to reimburse an employee for expenses which are disallowed elsewhere in the regulations. Those expenses are includable as miscellaneous expense allowance items. He is not entitled to any additional amount under those provisions. DECISION This decision is in response to a request from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Department of the Treasury. We are asked whether an employee may be reimbursed certain expenses ancillary to the transportation and setup of a houseboat for use as a residence incident to a permanent change of station. An employee of the IRS was transferred from St.
Matter of: Gregory Zampogna File: B-254031 Date: December 21, 1993
CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Relocation Mobile homes Shipment Actual expenses Reimbursement A transferred employee purchased a houseboat as his permanent residence and had it transported to his new duty station. He seeks reimbursement for ancillary expenses incurred to set up the vessel as his residence at destination. The expenses claimed include the costs of scraping, painting, and waxing the hull and repairing the bilge pump. Paragraph 2-3.1c of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) provides that the miscellaneous expense allowance shall not be used to reimburse an employee for expenses which are disallowed elsewhere in the regulations. Paragraph 2-7.3a(3) of the FTR excludes from reimbursement the cost of maintenance and repair of a mobile dwelling. Therefore, the claimed items may not be reimbursed as miscellaneous expenses. CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Relocation Miscellaneous expenses Reimbursement Eligibility A transferred employee purchased a houseboat as his permanent residence and had it transported to his new duty station. He seeks reimbursement for ancillary expenses incurred to set up the vessel as his residence at destination. The expenses claimed include costs for hoisting, towing and use of a crane, reassembly of the bridge which had been removed for transportation, and making all onboard systems operational (appliances and sanitary facilities). Under paragraph 2-3.1b of the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR), those expenses are includable as miscellaneous expense allowance items. However, since the employee has already received $700 under paragraph 2-3.3a(2) of the FTR and the allowable expenses do not exceed that amount, he is not entitled to any additional amount under those provisions.
Mr. Gregory Zampogna, an employee of the IRS was transferred from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Washington, DC, in October 1988. He purchased a houseboat to serve as his permanent residence at his new duty station, and he later submitted a voucher for a variety of expenses incurred during the period December 31, 1988, to January 31, 1989, to prepare the houseboat for use as a residence at destination. These services included cleaning, painting, and waxing the hull; use of a crane, and hoisting and towing the houseboat to the water; reinstalling the bridge which had been removed for transportation; and hooking up the onboard water, refrigerator, stove, heating, and sanitary facilities.
The IRS is of the view that the charges for the crane, hoisting, and towing the boat included in the December 31, 1988, invoice are reimbursable since they are similar to charges involved in setting up a mobile home, but that the remaining expenses on that invoice (painting the hull, etc.) are more related to making the houseboat operable as a water vessel and not reimbursable. Further, the IRS believes that the expenses listed in the January 31, 1989, invoice are analogous to connecting appliances and utilities, and thus are reimbursable as miscellaneous moving expenses.
Section 5724(b) of title 5, United States Code, provides that under regulations a transferred employee may transport a house trailer or mobile dwelling from the old duty station to the new duty station for use as a residence at government expense. We have included waterborne vessels as "mobile dwellings" under 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724(b).
In addition, 5 U.S.C. Sec. 5724a(b) authorizes payment of a miscellaneous moving expense allowance in an amount not to exceed 1 week's basic pay in the case of an employee without immediate family, or 2 weeks' basic pay in the case of an employee with an immediate family, but in no event may the payment exceed the maximum pay rate of a grade GS-13 employee.
The regulations governing these reimbursements during the period in question are those contained in parts 3 and 7 of chapter 2, Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) then in effect. Paragraph 2-7.1a provides for an allowance for the transportation of a mobile home for use as a residence, in lieu of transportation of household goods. Paragraph 2-7.3a(3) states that the reimbursable costs of transporting a mobile home "shall not include the costs of preparing mobile homes for movement, maintenance, repairs . . . nor charges designated in the tariffs as `Special Service.'" However, paragraph 2-3.1b of the FTR includes for miscellaneous expense allowance purposes: (1) fees for disconnecting and connecting appliances, equipment, and utilities; and (2) fees for unblocking and blocking and related expenses in connection with relocating a mobile home.
Moreover, paragraph 2-3.3b provides that the maximum miscellaneous expense allowance payable, without documentation of expenses, is the lesser of $350 or 1 week's basic pay for an employee without immediate family or the lesser of $700 or 2 weeks' basic pay for an employee with immediate family. In addition, paragraph 2-3.3b provides, that, if the allowable miscellaneous expenses of an employee with immediate family exceed $700, the additional expenses may be paid where documentation of expenses is supplied, but the payment may not exceed the lesser of the employee's basic pay for 2 weeks or the maximum basic pay rate of grade GS-13 for that period.
We conclude that the following claimed expenses may be allowed by the IRS as miscellaneous expenses because they are similar to the expenses of relocating a mobile home:
Hoist - $200 Towing - 10 Crane charge - 50 Total - $260
Certain other expenses incurred and claimed may also be allowed under the following analysis.
Install bridge on houseboat - $227.50 Fuses - 2.08 Total $229.58
We have held that the cost of disassembly of a double wide mobile home for transportation purposes and its reassembly at destination is includable under paragraph 2-3.1b of the FTR as part of the miscellaneous expense allowance. Therefore, since the bridge on the houseboat had to be removed for transportation, its reassembly and rewiring to make all onboard systems operable is to be included as a miscellaneous expense allowance cost. Since the fuses were part of the circuitry to make the onboard systems operable, that cost may be included as well.
Finally, we hold that the following expenses are not allowable:
Scraping, painting & waxing bottom of boat $673.75 Materials & tax 44.20 Repair bilge pump 70.00 $787.95
Paragraph 2-3.1c of the FTR provides that the miscellaneous expense allowance shall not be used to reimburse an employee for expenses incurred which are disallowed elsewhere in the regulations. As previously noted, paragraph 2-7.3a(3) of the FTR excludes reimbursement for costs of maintenance and repair of a mobile home in connection with its transportation. Since the above-listed items are for maintenance and repair of the houseboat, they may not be included as reimbursable items under the miscellaneous expense allowance.
Accordingly, Mr. Zampogna is entitled to a total of $489.58 as miscellaneous expenses involved in setting up his houseboat. Since the allowable expenses do not exceed the $700 miscellaneous expense allowance already paid to Mr. Zampogna, he is not entitled to any additional reimbursement under the FTR.
1. Mr. Steve Goldberg, Chief, Office of Travel Management and Relocation. Reference F:S:T, BE400.
2. Adam W. Mink, 62 Comp.Gen. 289 (1983) - Sailboat; Lieutenant Christopher J. Donovan, 62 Comp.Gen. 292 (1983) - Houseboat; and James H. McFarland, B-209998, Apr. 22, 1983 - Floathouse.
3. Mr. Zampogna qualifies for 2 weeks' basic pay as he had an immediate family.
4. Supp. 1, Sept. 28, 1981, and Supp. 4, Aug. 23, 1982, incorp. by ref., 41 C.F.R. Sec. 101-7.003 (1988).
5. James C. Frye, B-186499, July 27, 1977.
6. Cf. Andrew Fischer, 70 Comp.Gen. 486 (1991).