Moving and Relocation Allowance Policy

Recommended By
Administration and Finance
Judy K. Sakaki, President
Issue Date
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Current Issue Date
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Effective Date
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Contact Office
Human Resources
Policy number

I. Overview of Moving and Relocation Allowance

A moving and relocation allowance may be authorized for actual, necessary, and reasonable moving and relocation expenses for an individual who changes residence in order to accept employment at Sonoma State University to include faculty and staff.  Not every appointee will be authorized for such an allowance. The determination of the recipient and the amount of this allowance is discretionary and contingent upon the availability of funds and shall be the responsibility of the hiring department.

A new employee must be relocating at least fifty (50) miles from their previous residence to qualify for a moving and relocation allowance. Additionally, such allowance for individuals that will be employed by the University for a period of less than two years are at the discretion of the President.  The University’s appointment letter indicates the maximum, and all-inclusive dollar amount which the University will pay towards an employee’s substantiated moving and relocation expenses. Moving and relocation expenses that do not conform to these guidelines will not be reimbursed. Moving and relocation expenses are subject to taxation.

Any exceptions to these procedures must be approved by the Chief Financial Officer, in consultation with University Cabinet members.

II. Moving and Relocation Allowable Expenses

Full or partial reimbursement, within budgetary constraints, may be allowed for the following expenses:

Relocation Travel Expenses                                                                                            

An employee and spouse or registered domestic partner may be reimbursed for up to three (3) house-hunting trips (round trip from former residence to campus) in addition to relocation travel expenses (defined as one-way trip, single vehicle, from the former residence to the general area of the new campus) in accordance with the current reimbursement rate described in the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations. Mileage is paid for the shortest, most direct, route from the former residence to Sonoma County. If during the trip to the new home an employee stops over, or makes side trips for sightseeing, the additional expense will not be reimbursed. Family members do not have to travel together or at the same time. However, only up to three (3) trips will be reimbursed.

An employee and spouse or registered domestic partner may be reimbursed for a per diem and actual lodging expenses, supported by an itemized receipt, in accordance with the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations.

Limits on Relocation Expenses

Temporary lodging, storage, or other subsistence expenses incurred between the time of relocation and establishment of a permanent residence shall not be reimbursed beyond sixty (60) calendar days of relocation date unless an exception is approved to extend this length of time. The reimbursement of expenses shall terminate immediately upon establishment of a permanent residence. Total amount of the reimbursement will be up to the allowed relocation and moving expenses outlined in the appointment letter, and will not exceed the maximum allowance indicated under section IV of this policy.  The President may grant an exception to this limitation if it is determined, in advance, that the search for a new residence will result in unusual and unavoidable hardship for an employee and spouse or registered domestic partner.

Moving of Household Goods

Household goods and personal effects are items to be used in the employee’s primary residence. Such expenses may include the actual and necessary cost of packing, crating, and transporting personal property (furniture, clothing, musical instruments, household appliances, automobiles, household pets) that is usual or necessary for the maintenance of a household. Household effects shall not include belongings related to commercial enterprises engaged in by the employee; or building materials. The cost of moving household goods from multiple locations is limited to the amount it would have cost from prior primary residence to new residence. All expenses must be properly documented by itemized invoices and receipts.  

Settlement of Lease or Sale of Residence

Costs associated with the settlement of a lease or the sale of a residence could be reimbursable if approved by the Vice President overseeing the hiring department and the President.

Temporary Housing

Temporary campus housing may be provided, if available, by approval from the division’s Vice President. Employees living in such temporary housing must follow relevant rules and guidelines. Market rate will be used to calculate this taxable employee benefit.

III. All-Inclusive Maximum Allowance Based on Employee’s Starting Salary and Classification

The maximum allowance for all moving and relocation reimbursement shall be up to 15% of the new employee’s starting salary.  Exceptions to this maximum allowance must be pre-authorized by the appropriate  Vice President and the President.  Moving and relocation allowances must not exceed $75,000.  Exceptions to this limit must be approved by the President who must also submit a written explanation to the Chancellor so as to justify the payment.  

IV. Appointing Authority for Moving and Relocation Allowance 

The following progressive approvals are required for reimbursement of moving and relocation expenses for applicable new employees.  Funds must exist in the unit/department for approval to be given. These limits include all funds offered to candidates regardless of funding source. 

Relocation and Moving Threshold

Must be authorized by:

Up to $10,000

Associate Vice President or Dean


$10,001- $30,000

Vice President of the Hiring Division

Above $30,001 - $75,000


V. Tax Information for Moving and Relocation Allowance

The University will provide reimbursement for relocation expenses as determined during the hiring process for each individual. Effective January 1, 2018, moving and relocation expense paid or reimbursed by the University are considered taxable income and therefore reportable to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Human Resources will report relocation reimbursement amounts to the State Controller’s Office which will be reflected on the employee’s W-2 for the calendar year in which the reimbursement occurred. Reimbursement for any tax liabilities (“grossing up”) incurred by the employee as the result of receiving reimbursement for relocation expenses is prohibited.

VI. Repayment of the Moving and Relocation Allowance/Reimbursement

If an employee whose moving or relocation expenses have been reimbursed does not continue employment with Sonoma State University for a period of at least two years (unless discontinuance of the employment was the result of death, disability or other similar unexpected cause beyond the control of the employee as determined by the appointing authority), the employee shall repay the following percentage of the amount received for reimbursement for such moving and relocation expenses:

Required repayment

Duration of Employment


Less than 6 months


At least 6 months but less than 12 months


At least 12 months but less than 18 months


At least 18 months but less than 24 months

The department/unit manager should promptly notify Human Resources or Faculty Affairs if employment ends before two years of when moving and relocation expenses have been paid. HR/Faculty Affairs will work with Financial Services to generate an invoice based on the percentages above and ensure that it is sent to the separating employee. Standard collection procedures will apply for non-payment.

Additional Resources

CSU Updated Moving and Relocation Policy and Updated CSU Internal Procedures Governing Moving and Relocation Expenses

CSU Travel Policy