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10 mins

What Do Employers Control in FAVR Programs?



​​As the corporate landscape rapidly evolves, businesses continually seek innovative ways to manage expenses and streamline operations. Fixed and Variable Rate (FAVR) programs have emerged as a structured solution, enabling employers to reimburse employees for their business-related driving expenditures efficiently. However, within FAVR programs, employers wield significant influence over several crucial elements. This article will illuminate the key aspects employers govern within a FAVR program. By exploring their role in constructing reimbursement policies and ensuring tax law compliance, we can better understand the factors that empower employers to navigate the complexities of employee reimbursement with confidence and precision.

Overview of FAVR programs

  • Definition of FAVR: By design, these programs strike a balance between fixed and variable rates, incorporating both predictable and fluctuating elements of business expenses. This unique approach allows employers to tailor reimbursements based on specific geographic factors, such as location, cost of living, and transportation requirements. By integrating these variables, employers are able to offer a reimbursement structure that reflects the actual expenses incurred by employees while performing their professional duties.
  • Benefits of FAVR: The benefits of implementing a FAVR program are manifold, offering employers a range of advantages that contribute to their operational efficiency and financial stability.
    • Cost and risk management: These programs provide cost control by establishing predetermined reimbursement rates, ensuring consistency and predictability in expense management. This approach minimizes the risk of overspending and empowers employers to allocate resources elsewhere to make informed budgetary decisions. FAVR simplifies the complexities associated with expense management. 
    • Reduced administrative burden: Delineating clear guidelines for reimbursement enables employers to streamline administrative processes and reduce the administrative burden of reviewing and approving individual expenses. This streamlined approach fosters efficiency, allowing employers to focus their time and energy on core business objectives. 
    • Tax compliance ease: Adhering to tax guidelines means that employers create an environment in which compliance with tax regulations is simplified. In turn, this mitigates the risk of penalties and audits for their workers. Additionally, FAVR programs provide employers with transparency and documentation, enabling them to substantiate reimbursements accurately and confidently navigate tax requirements, as laid out by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).[1]

[1]IRS Rev. Proc. 2009-54.

The essential employer controls in a FAVR program

Policy creation

At the heart of a FAVR program lies the employer’s role in instituting comprehensive policies that govern the reimbursement process. Employers have the authority to determine the fixed and variable rates within the program, carefully tailoring them to suit their organization’s unique needs and industry standards. Company managers can define certain expense levels eligible for reimbursement, such as the program standard vehicle, insurance coverage, mileage bands, retention cycles, and any additional guidelines specific to the organization. Policies are also where companies can set guidelines for vehicle presentation, and include guidance regarding driver safety.

Rate setting

Employers exercise control over setting fixed allowance rates, encompassing various costs associated with vehicle ownership. These rates contain insurance, registration fees, and depreciation expenses, providing a structured framework for reimbursement calculations. Additionally, employers can define variable rates within the FAVR program. This includes mileage rates, which determine the reimbursement for each mile driven and fuel, maintenance, and repairs rates. By adjusting these rates to account for trends in pricing and driver habits, employers can adapt to changing costs to guarantee their employees are reimbursed for all their business-related expenses. Employers can control these aspects through a range of levers:

  • Mileage bands: These indicate the expected annual mileage of employees, which helps to establish appropriate reimbursement rates that align with the desired usage of the vehicle. Mileage bands vary, with the most common in the US falling between 10,000 and 15,000 miles yearly, although some drivers may exceed 50,000 miles annually.
  • Vehicle profile: This constitutes yet another benchmark for effective and fair reimbursement rates. The vehicle profile outlines the specifications and characteristics of a vehicle that best aligns with the organization’s needs.
  • Business use percent: This percentage indicates the portion of a car’s usage for business purposes. A commonly chosen rate is 71.4%, representing 5 out of 7 weekdays dedicated to business driving.
  • Retention cycles: Employers determine the duration an employee intends to keep the car, typically between 3 and 7 years. Many employers opt for retention cycles of 4 or 5 years, ensuring a balance between cost efficiency and vehicle reliability.

Program parameters

Employers define the boundaries and parameters of the FAVR program to align with their business objectives; this includes specifying the covered expenses eligible for reimbursement, establishing mileage limits and considering other relevant factors. Defining these program parameters allows employers to control the program’s scope so it adheres to their financial goals and compliance requirements.

Compliance monitoring

Employers are responsible for actively monitoring the FAVR program to guarantee compliance with tax regulations and reporting requirements. This entails staying abreast of any changes in legislation that may impact reimbursement policies, ensuring that the program remains aligned with evolving tax guidelines. By diligently monitoring compliance, employers can mitigate the risk of tax-related penalties and maintain the integrity of their FAVR program. Insurance compliance is a big part of FAVR as well, and employers can choose to outsource their insurance compliance checks for a heightened level of monitoring.

Program updates and adjustments

Employers understand the need for periodic reviews and adjustments within the FAVR program. As costs fluctuate, mileage rates change and business objectives evolve, employers have the authority to review and adapt the program to secure its continued effectiveness. Regular assessments of the program’s parameters, rates, and policies allow employers to fine-tune the FAVR program, ensuring it remains aligned with the organization’s needs and responsive to external factors. Exercising control over these critical elements within a FAVR program means that employers can precisely navigate employee reimbursement’s intricacies and ensure an equitable approach to business-related expenses.

Employee communication and training

  • Policy communication: Transparently communicating the FAVR program policy to employees is of utmost importance, fostering understanding and compliance. Employers recognize the need to convey the reimbursement process, eligible expenses, reporting requirements, and any limitations or conditions clearly and concisely. Employers can minimize confusion, facilitate accurate expense reporting, and cultivate a culture of transparency by ensuring employees understand the program’s guidelines comprehensively. Regular communication channels, such as company-wide announcements, email updates, and dedicated resources on the company intranet, can keep employees informed and engaged in the reimbursement process.
  • Training and support: Employers are responsible for providing comprehensive training and ongoing support to employees participating in the FAVR program. Training sessions should educate employees on best practices for tracking expenses, maintaining proper documentation, and utilizing the FAVR program efficiently. Equipping employees with the necessary tools and knowledge enable them to navigate the program’s intricacies confidently and accurately. Additionally, offering support channels, such as a dedicated helpline or a designated point of contact, allows employees to seek clarification and resolve queries or concerns, ensuring a smooth and streamlined reimbursement experience. To avoid errors, employers can employ varied modes of communication, including interactive workshops, informative guides, and engaging presentations. Combining these methods authorizes employers to cater to diverse learning preferences, enhance employee engagement, and foster a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Regular reminders and updates can reinforce essential information such that employees may more easily stay informed about potential policy changes or updates.

Effective communication and comprehensive training are integral components of a successful FAVR program. Transparent policy communication implements clear expectations and empowers employees to navigate the reimbursement process accurately. Meanwhile, ongoing training and support enable employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively utilize the program, ensuring compliance, accurate reporting, and a streamlined reimbursement experience. By prioritizing employee communication and training, employers create a collaborative environment that maximizes the benefits of the FAVR program while minimizing confusion and potential errors.

​​Ensuring compliance and documentation

  • Recordkeeping guidelines: Employers are crucial in creating comprehensive recordkeeping guidelines within the FAVR program. These guidelines outline the expectations for proper documentation of expenses, mileage logs, and other relevant information necessary for compliance and auditing purposes. Additionally, employers may require employees to submit regular expense reports, consolidating all reimbursable expenses and supporting documentation. This diligent approach to recordkeeping facilitates compliance with tax regulations and provides a robust audit trail, offering transparency and accountability.
  • Tax compliance: Employers are responsible for ensuring that FAVR program reimbursements are reported accurately and in adherence to tax regulations. This includes appropriately reporting refunds on relevant tax forms, such as Form W-2. Employers must furnish necessary documentation and supporting records to substantiate the reimbursements claimed. Compliance with tax regulations is critical to avoid penalties, audits, and potential legal ramifications. Employers should stay abreast of any changes or updates in tax laws and regulations related to employee reimbursements, ensuring ongoing compliance and accurate reporting. To streamline tax compliance, employers may implement internal controls and processes that facilitate the proper reporting and documentation of FAVR program reimbursements. This may include regular reconciliations of rebates against supporting records, periodic reviews of expense reports for accuracy and adherence to policy, and timely reporting of refunds on relevant tax forms. Employers may also consider engaging outsourced reimbursement partners, tax professionals or consulting with their tax advisors to ensure full compliance and adherence to any specific industry requirements. Maintaining strong recordkeeping guidelines and prioritizing tax compliance gives employers the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the integrity and legality of the FAVR program. Consistent and accurate documentation satisfies legal and regulatory obligations and instills employee confidence in reimbursement. Employers who uphold high compliance and documentation standards foster trust and credibility while mitigating risks associated with potential non-compliance.


Employers are pivotal in successfully implementing and managing a FAVR program. Their control over policy creation, rate setting, compliance monitoring, and program updates enables them to establish a fair and transparent reimbursement system that aligns with their organization’s objectives. Through open communication, comprehensive training, and diligent documentation, employers can ensure employees understand the program’s policies and requirements, facilitating accurate expense reporting and compliance with tax regulations. The benefits of a well-executed FAVR program extend to both employers and employees, with cost control, streamlined expense management, and enhanced compliance as the hallmarks of a well-implemented program. By prioritizing these key factors, employers can foster efficiency, transparency, and compliance within their organizations, resulting in a mutually beneficial arrangement for all stakeholders involved. With a focus on continuous improvement and adaptation, employers can leverage the advantages of a FAVR program to drive success and satisfaction in employee reimbursement.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog post is legal, accounting, or insurance advice. Consult your lawyer, accountant, or insurance agent, and do not rely on the information contained herein for any business or personal financial or legal decision-making. While we strive to be as reliable as possible, we are neither lawyers nor accountants or agents. For several citations of IRS publications on which we base our blog content ideas, please always consult this article: For Cardata’s terms of service, go here:

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