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Business and Financial Policies and Procedures

Determine the Allowability of Business Meals and Refreshments

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Before You Begin

Maximum allowable expenditures for business meals, receptions, and refreshments depend upon the attendees, the type of event, and in some cases, the starting time or length of the event.

All meal maximums given below apply to restaurants, caterers, and University-operated food service.  The meal maximums given below do not include allowable expenditures for tax, tips and alcohol. The University is exempt from Illinois state sales tax and has reciprocal agreements with some other states. Always ask for this exemption. Tips up to a maximum of 20% of the total cost is reimbursable. Travel Card (T-Card) payments of tips in excess of 20% of the total cost of a meal may be subject to deduction of the excessive T-Card charges from the Cardholder’s wages.  Alcohol, when allowable, may only be provided to participants 21 years of age or older.

Sponsored project funds may only be used for business meals when that use complies with the terms of the sponsored grant or contract and the related budget.

Expenditures using self-supporting funds must be directly related to generation of the fund's revenue.

Expenditures using gift or endowment income funds must be in compliance with donor intent restrictions.

Begin

To determine whether business meals and refreshments are an allowable expense:

Select an attendee category below. Click on a link to open or close it.
Employees Only

Allowable for

Employee Recognition - An official event held to honor faculty or staff for years of service or retirement, special achievements (such as teaching and outstanding service awards or investiture ceremonies), annual unit picnic or holiday event. Any other employee recognition event requires approval of the dean, vice chancellor, assistant vice president, or provost to whom the unit reports. Employee recognition events may include outside guests and/or students as participants.

Full-day Events - An event that lasts at least five business hours.

Employee Business Meals - A meal during a business meeting attended by employees only, when the meeting is held during breakfast, lunch, or dinner if the timing of the meeting is crucial and all participants are available only at that time.

Amount Limits

Breakfast
$25 per person if the event begins by 9:00 am

Lunch
$25 per person

Dinner
$40 per person for employee recognition, full-day staff retreats, and employee business meals. NOT allowable for training events.

Refreshments and Reception
$25 per person for employee recognition events and full or half-day training, or staff retreats

Alcohol
Not an allowable expense without express approval of the dean, vice chancellor, assistant vice president, or provost to whom the unit reports. Keep this supporting documentation on file in your unit.

Tips
Tips up to a maximum of 20% of the total cost is reimbursable. T-Card payments of tips in excess of 20% of the total cost may be subject to deduction of the excessive T-Card charges from the Cardholder’s wages.

Allowable Fund Types
State (for employee business meals only), gift, institutional, service plan, or self-supporting if the event is directly related to generation of the fund's revenue.

How to Purchase
Do NOT purchase business meals with a University P-Card. Make the purchase using:

Employees and Guests (includes students)

Allowable for

Recruitment - Meals or refreshments provided during meetings with non-employees or potential students, related to their possible employment at or admission to the University.

Business Meetings - University business discussions held between one or more University employees AND one or more visitors from an outside entity.

Hospitality Events - An event honoring distinguished guests who are not University employees. May include meals or receptions for faculty from other universities, members of external organizations, and/or visiting dignitaries. Dignitaries typically visit at the invitation of the University to participate in seminars, speaking engagements, and related events.

Donor Event - A meal and/or reception during which University employees meet with current or potential donors.

Convocation or Graduation Event - Refreshments or a reception related to a convocation or graduation - if approved by the Chancellor.

Amount Limits

Breakfast
$25 per person

Lunch
$40 per person

Dinner
$60 per person

Refreshments and Reception
$25 per person

Alcohol
$20 per person for non-donor events

Tips
Tips up to a maximum of 20% of the total cost is reimbursable. T-Card payments of tips in excess of 20% of the total cost may be subject to deduction of the excessive T-Card charges from the Cardholder’s wages.

Allowable Fund Types
State (for business meetings and recruitment only); gift, institutional, service plan, or self-supporting if the event is directly related to generation of the funds revenue. Convocation or graduation events may be funded by the Chancellor's or President's Public Function funds.

How to Purchase
Do NOT purchase business meals with a University P-Card. Make the purchase using:

Students

Allowable for

Meals and/or refreshments provided for student events such as student orientation receptions, field trips, summer programs, or lunch series with speakers.

Amount Limits

Breakfast, Lunch, Refreshments, Receptions, or Dinner
$25 per person

Alcohol
$20 per person for non-donor events

Tips
Tips up to a maximum of 20% of the total cost is reimbursable. T-Card payments of tips in excess of 20% of the total cost may be subject to deduction of the excessive T-Card charges from the Cardholder’s wages.

Allowable fund types

State, gift, institutional, service plan, or self-supporting if the event is directly related to generation of the funds revenue.

How to Purchase
Do NOT purchase business meals with a University P-Card. Make the purchase using:

Approval to Exceed the Amount Limit
You must have approval to exceed the allowable amounts for business meals and refreshments. If possible, obtain the approval in advance. Written approval must be from the dean, vice chancellor, assistant vice president, or provost, unless he or she will be attending the event. In that case, obtain written approval from the head of the next higher administrative unit not attending the event. Keep this supporting documentation on file in your unit.

Related Policies and Procedures

Request Reimbursement for Domestic or International Employee Travel and Business Meals
Determine the Allowability of Serving Alcohol at an Event

Last Updated: July 1, 2017 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: September 2012

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