Explainer: A Short Detailed Guide To Federal Per Diems

What is Per Diem Rates 2021?

A per-diem is a fixed amount of money given to employees to cater to daily expenses such as meals, lodging expenses, and other incidental expenses that arise while one is on official duty. Per Diem Rates 2021 by the Federal Government are usually set by the General Services Administration (GSA). These rates usually apply for all Government employees and they are also regularly applied for private employees by the companies sponsoring their activities.

The overall per-diem offered to an employee for lodging expenses and meals typically depends on the jurisdiction where they are carrying out official duties. For most locations across the U.S, the per diem amount offered for meals and lodging is calculated as per the 2021 Financial Year per diem rates. HOWEVER, there are almost 400 locations in the U.S, where employees on official duty are given special per diem rates.

Per Diem Rates 2020 and 2021

How Can I Reimburse My Traveling Employees Using Per Diem Rates 2021?

On sending an employee outside their normal area of work, they are likely to rake up expenses for meals, lodgings, and other incidentals necessary for their work. If the employee uses their personal savings, they will expect that their sponsoring company reimburses them for some of the costs they incur.

You can reimburse your employees for the money they spend on an official business trip using per diems. However, not all business travel expenses can be reimbursed through per diems. Some of the items considered eligible for per diem reimbursement by the IRS include:

  • Cost of meals
  • Cost of lodging
  • Cost of doing laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing of attire
  • Cost of room service
  • Tips and other fees are given to service providers such as baggage handlers, waiters and waitresses as well as valets

NOTE: Per diems cannot be used to cater for the costs of travel when on official business. As a sponsoring entity, you can either make travel plans for your employees beforehand or put in place mechanisms to repay your employees if they use their personal cash for travel.

Alternatively, as a sponsoring organization, you can make travel plans as well as lodging plans for your employees. Should this be the case, you can offer your employees per diem reimbursement for meal expenses as well as other incidental expenses. This will basically include per diem for the items listed above but will exclude per diems for lodging expenses.

As an employer, you can give your employees per diem before the start of their official travel expenses perhaps by giving them cash or offering a company credit card. In some cases where per diem is given in the form of cash, some entities allow their employees to keep any leftover cash not used up during the business trip. Alternatively, you can reimburse your employees after they return from assigned duties by calculating what they are owed using the proscribed per diem rates.

How Are Federal Per Diem Rates 2021 Set?

The GSA usually sets the Per Diem Rates 2021 for each state and city within the Continental (Contiguous) United States (CONUS). Per diem rates typically depend on the cost of living in an area. However, they can also vary depending on the time of the year. This is because the cost of lodging and meals tends to vary in some areas depending on the season and time of year.

Areas that fall outside the purview of the Continental United States (CONUS) such as Hawaii, Alaska, and other territories and possessions of the United States referred to as OCONUS (Outside Continental United States) have they’re per diem rates set by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The Per Diem Rates 2021 for foreign countries is usually set by the U.S Department of State.

For employees operating within the Continental United States, lodging per diem rates are tax-free. Further, on the first and last day of official duty, the Per Diem Rates 2021 applied for meals and other incidentals (M&IEs) should be 75% of the total per diem amount they are to receive for the entire day.

NOTE: Should your employees be traveling through two cities within one day, when calculating their total per diem amount, they should use the per diem rates applicable in the city where they will be lodging for the night.

The per diem rates revealed below are the standards of per diem rates within every state. Click any one of the states below for a complete schedule of per diem rates by destination.

Per Diem Rates 2020

State Number Per-Diem Destinations Average Meals & Incidentals Rate Average Lodging Rate
Alabama 67 $55.19 $96.68
Arizona 16 $58.81 $109.09
Arkansas 75 $55.08 $96.11
California 59 $62.86 $130.55
Colorado 64 $59.67 $114.43
Connecticut 8 $60.63 $108.13
Delaware 3 $57.33 $116.56
District Of Columbia 1 $76.00 $214.83
Florida 67 $58.15 $111.37
Georgia 159 $55.39 $97.57
Idaho 44 $56.00 $98.13
Illinois 102 $55.59 $98.50
Indiana 92 $55.17 $97.01
Iowa 99 $55.07 $96.30
Kansas 105 $55.37 $96.84
Kentucky 120 $55.24 $96.89
Louisiana 64 $56.45 $97.89
Maine 16 $58.44 $106.90
Maryland 24 $60.71 $115.40
Massachusetts 16 $66.25 $155.66
Michigan 83 $55.54 $99.19
Minnesota 87 $55.98 $98.02
Mississippi 82 $55.22 $96.27
Missouri 115 $55.67 $97.99
Montana 56 $55.63 $98.49
Nebraska 93 $55.06 $96.15
Nevada 17 $56.00 $97.39
New Hampshire 10 $61.20 $115.66
New Jersey 21 $60.76 $118.61
New Mexico 33 $55.55 $101.03
New York 62 $59.68 $115.43
North Carolina 100 $55.45 $97.92
North Dakota 53 $55.00 $96.00
Ohio 88 $55.77 $98.95
Oklahoma 77 $55.08 $96.12
Oregon 36 $56.58 $102.55
Pennsylvania 68 $56.40 $100.78
Rhode Island 5 $60.80 $133.28
South Carolina 46 $56.57 $104.28
South Dakota 66 $55.67 $96.59
Tennessee 95 $55.26 $98.16
Texas 255 $55.44 $100.01
Utah 29 $56.38 $102.93
Vermont 14 $61.07 $105.68
Virginia 134 $56.63 $102.31
Washington 39 $59.44 $108.88
West Virginia 55 $55.04 $96.25
Wisconsin 72 $55.51 $97.33
Wyoming 23 $57.78 $106.30

Per Diem Rates 2021

State Number Per-Diem Destinations Average Meals & Incidentals Rate Average Lodging Rate
Alabama 67 $55.19 $96.76
Arizona 16 $58.81 $108.72
Arkansas 75 $55.08 $96.09
California 59 $62.86 $131.44
Colorado 64 $59.67 $115.11
Connecticut 8 $60.63 $107.50
Delaware 3 $57.33 $115.78
District Of Columbia 1 $76.00 $220.17
Florida 67 $58.06 $112.04
Georgia 159 $55.39 $97.73
Idaho 44 $56.00 $98.44
Illinois 102 $55.59 $98.44
Indiana 92 $55.17 $96.98
Iowa 99 $55.07 $96.28
Kansas 105 $55.37 $96.84
Kentucky 120 $55.24 $97.00
Louisiana 64 $56.45 $97.82
Maine 16 $58.44 $107.82
Maryland 24 $60.71 $115.69
Massachusetts 16 $66.25 $154.82
Michigan 83 $55.54 $99.13
Minnesota 87 $55.98 $98.16
Mississippi 82 $55.22 $96.28
Missouri 115 $55.67 $98.11
Montana 56 $55.63 $98.97
Nebraska 93 $55.06 $96.15
Nevada 17 $56.00 $98.00
New Hampshire 10 $61.20 $116.81
New Jersey 21 $59.71 $120.21
New Mexico 33 $56.03 $101.16
New York 62 $59.68 $114.98
North Carolina 100 $55.45 $98.08
North Dakota 53 $55.00 $96.00
Ohio 88 $55.77 $99.16
Oklahoma 77 $55.08 $96.10
Oregon 36 $56.58 $102.33
Pennsylvania 68 $56.40 $100.84
Rhode Island 5 $60.80 $133.02
South Carolina 46 $56.57 $104.36
South Dakota 66 $55.67 $96.57
Tennessee 95 $55.26 $98.09
Texas 255 $55.44 $99.35
Utah 29 $56.38 $103.18
Vermont 14 $61.07 $106.08
Virginia 134 $56.51 $102.73
Washington 39 $59.44 $108.64
West Virginia 55 $55.04 $96.29
Wisconsin 72 $55.51 $97.39
Wyoming 23 $57.78 $107.80
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