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Corps issues travel card, ATM rules

Dec. 24, 2012 - 08:20AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 - 08:20AM  |  
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If you are traveling on orders and using your government travel charge card, don't forget to get your lodging taxes waived by the hotel and don't get cash through the ATM.

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If you are traveling on orders and using your government travel charge card, don't forget to get your lodging taxes waived by the hotel and don't get cash through the ATM.

That's the latest word from the Marine Corps, which last year spent $10 million to cover cash-advance fees and hotel taxes that could have been exempt while on official travel. Defense Department officials want the services to cut travel costs, including lodging taxes exempted by many hotels and some states for government travel.

"These expenses are often avoidable and can stretch already limited resources vital for the commanders' operational requirements," Marine Corps officials wrote in a Dec. 13 message, MARADMIN 712/12.

Service members and personnel with government travel charge cards are supposed to use them to cover official travel expenses. During fiscal 2011, the Marine Corps spent $9.9 million reimbursing them for hotel taxes, a bill that could have been less or avoided if travelers requested or got the federal lodging tax exemption.

While frequent travelers are more aware of the tax exemption, "unfortunately the average traveler doesn't know," said Ruben H. Garcia, lead defense travel administrator for I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations-West at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Complicating the tax exemption is that hotels and states handle it differently. As of Dec. 13, 11 states exempt service members and federal employees using their individual government travel cards, issued by Citibank, from paying hotel or lodging taxes. Five states Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York require travelers to submit exemption forms, and six others Alaska, Oregon, Kansas, Missouri, Delaware and Massachusetts require no forms to exempt the tax.

The">General Services Administration website maintains an online map with the latest state tax information.

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