1,067: Host Expenses

Revised: January 2016

The following delineates expenses that are generally defined as host expenses. Unless specifically excepted below, these expenses are not allowed from any funds other than accounts authorized for hosting.

Hosting includes the following expenditures:

  • Food, including snacks, candy, condiments, etc.
  • Beverages, including alcohol, soft drinks, water, and coffee service
  • Gifts, including flowers, plants, mementos, cards

This policy sets forth requirements for the hosting purchases of meals, refreshments, and gifts, regardless of the funding source of the account used for the purchase. More restrictive standards may apply to expenditures from federal funds and recharge accounts, and from some grants and contracts and private gifts. It is the responsibility of the individual incurring the expense to insure that there are no restrictions on these purchases by checking with the appropriate authority.

Nothing in these guidelines should be seen as preventing a dean or vice president from imposing more restrictive regulations and procedures in relation to these types of purchases within their college or division. Such limits should be communicated in writing to all faculty and staff of the unit.

1. Alcoholic beverages

The purchase of alcohol with university funds, regardless of the type of funding, is subject to the following limitations.

  1. If on university premises, the provision of alcohol is subject to the requirements and procedures of the Alcoholic Beverages policy found in section 5,313 of the UAM.
  2. The purchase of alcohol for personal consumption on university premises is only appropriate for official university functions such as receptions and special events where the serving of alcohol is usual and customary.
  3. Reimbursement of an employee for personal consumption of alcohol while in travel status is prohibited. This rule does not apply to hosted events while in travel status, however.
  4. The purchase of alcohol at meals or gatherings off campus where only university employees are present is prohibited. When external parties are present, the maximum expenditure for alcoholic beverages during business meals is $20 per attendee, unless approved by the respective dean or vice president.

2. Business meals

The purchase of meals with university funds is appropriate if the purpose of the activity is business-related. Such a purchase is deemed to be business-related if:

  1. It reflects an ordinary and necessary transaction in order to conduct university business; AND
  2. The meal is in connection with a business meeting or workshop that runs through normal meal or break times and whose schedule permits the efficient gathering of employees from different offices or units across the institution OR the meal involves at least one external party to the university.

The number of university representatives attending hosted meals should be limited to two plus the host and guest(s). If the guest is accompanied by a spouse, domestic partner, or other family member, then the university representatives are entitled to bring and host their spouse, domestic partner, or other family member as well.

General university meal expense limits are $50 per person for dinner, $20 per person for lunch, and $12 per person for breakfast, excluding gratuity and the cost of alcohol, if allowable. In accordance with Board of Regents' policy, gratuity on meals should not be more than 20%. Exceptions to the meal limits must be approved by the respective dean or vice president.

Hosted meals where the only attendees are university employees should be infrequent and only used for special events such as planning retreats, retirement recognitions receptions, and annual recognition or award ceremonies. Meals for employee social events where the primary focus is on consumption of food, rather than conducting business or employee recognition, should be limited to one such event per college, division, or department per year. Examples of social events include annual picnics, holiday parties, and Administrative Professionals Day/Week events.

Employees purchasing business meals should obtain an ITEMIZED RECEIPT identifying both food and beverage charges as well as gratuity, regardless of the form of payment used. This receipt must be accompanied by the appropriate Hosting Expense Documentation and Approval form when presenting a Request for Payment or when submitting the receipt for reporting on the University Purchasing Card (Payment Net) statement. In addition, if a meal is only attended by university employees, an agenda or description of the business conducted at the meeting will be necessary for approval. Any purchases that exceed the limits specified above or that are not accompanied by an itemized receipt or agenda/description will not be reimbursed by the university, or if charged to a university purchasing card, must be reimbursed by the responsible employee.

3. Snacks and refreshments

Snacks and beverage items purchased for extended professional development or training or business meetings involving institutional teams, boards or committees may be necessary, and snacks and refreshments for these extended meetings are allowable hosting expenses. However, expenses within departments for internal meetings should be limited to those associated with official administrative meetings that extend beyond two hours or for meetings at which at least one external guest of the university is present. The use of university funds to provide routine or regular snacks and refreshments to unit or department employees as a consequence of their employment or at routine or regular class sessions is prohibited. Host expenditures (snacks) may be approved by the person with account signature authority if the primary beneficiaries/attendees are medical or dental residents whose duties restrict the resident to the premises. 

4. Allowed gifts

Basis for Allowed Gifts:

Moderately priced gifts may made on behalf of the University to employees, non-employees, students, affiliated individuals, or outside organizations are allowed when the gift benefits the University, is in furtherance of a university business purpose, and is clearly necessary to the university's fulfillment of its role as a good community citizen. 

Gifts - Non Employees

Allowable Gifts Include:

  • Reasonably priced promotional items that bears the logo of the University such as a t-shirt, cap, clock, pennant, mug or pen. These gifts should be of a minimal value (less than $50 annually per person per calendar year).
  • Appreciation or recognition including gifts of tangible personal property such as tickets to a sporting, theatrical, or musical event, travel with meals and lodging, plaque, watch, book, logo item of more than a minimal value. Gifts in this category cannot exceed a total of $100 per person per calendar year. 

Gifts Not Allowable:

  • Gift cards or gift certificates. The IRS considers cash or cash equivalent items provided to be taxable to the recipient.
  • Lavish or extravagant gifts that do not promote the University.
  • Unsubstantiated gifts to university donors which may impact the tax-deductibility of their donation (IRS requires written disclosure of quid pro quo contributions in excess of $75).
  • Gifts in excess of $100 in total per person per calendar year across campus are not allowed as they will be taxable to the recipient. 

The State of Nevada Administrative Manual allows awards or gifts to individuals who have volunteered their time to a state agency and are not being otherwise compensated for performing the service. The limits on such awards or gifts for individuals who volunteer for the university are as follows:

  • The service performed is on the individual's own time and is not in the normal course of employment;
  • The cost of each award/gift does not exceed $25; and
  • The agency has sufficient funds available for such awards/gifts.

Gifts - Employees

Monetary gifts to employees or anything that might be perceived as s gift, including items given as a thank you for or in recognition of services provided, cannot be purchased from any university account, EXCEPT in the following instances:

  • If such gift or award was awarded through a documented competitive process (Note: these payments are required to be processed through the Payroll Office); or
  • If such gift or award was presented in recognition of an employee's retirement from the University or lengthy service to the University (more than 10 years), provided this gift or award has been approved by the appropriate dean and/or vice president and is documented on a completed host form, charged to a host account and does not exceed $100; or
  • If the plaque, award or framed artwork was purchased for permanent display in a university owned building.  

5. Flowers, invitations and greeting cards

Flowers purchased for decorative purposes or the costs of printing and mailing invitations to official university events or functions are not considered gifts and may be paid from any university account.

University funds cannot be used to purchase flowers, gift cards, donations of cash or university promotional logo items, or greeting cards, and the like, for or on behalf of any university employee, or for ill or bereaved employees or employees being recognized on account of a holiday or special event, unless approved by a vice president or dean. Any donation of cash or gift card must not exceed $25.

University departments and divisions will not use university funds to purchase or send holiday or other greeting cards within NSHE. University funds may be used to purchase or send holiday or other greeting cards to donors.

6. Donations and other payments

Payments to external organizations for other than goods or services received by the university, and donations or transfer of university funds or property to charitable, scientific or educational organizations are not permissible unless paid from an agency (1901 fund) account.

This policy does not preclude the purchase of tickets or tables for events hosted by these entities subject to preapproval by the President's office.

University owned surplus property is exempted if the appropriate process has been followed per NSHE Guidelines and Procedures Manual (Chapter 1, Section 2).

7. Donors, potential donors, visitors, and other non-employees

Donors, potential donors, spouses, dependents, contractors, trustees, visitors, and other affiliated or unaffiliated persons who receive gifts will have any taxable amount reported on IRS Form 1099-MISC, if the total of the annual gifts received across campus exceeds the $600 IRS reporting threshold during a calendar year. Nontaxable gift items must comply with the Business Gift exclusion of the Internal Revenue Code IRS Publication 463-or the donor insubstantial benefit (low cost article) exclusion (IRS Procedure 2014-61)/ Non-employees may receive de Minimis fringe benefits if they are (1) low in cost (the aggregate value across campus on an annual basis is less than $100), (2) infrequent, and (3) consist of tangible personal property as described above. The expense must be recorded in the object code for gifts and promotional items and the business reason for making the gift or the nature of the business benefits the University derives or expects to derive and the name, title and occupation of the recipient(s) must be fully documented in writing and accompany the invoice, purchasing card support or request for payment (see IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-61). The cost of the gifts must be reasonable in relation to the actual or expected benefits. When gifts are proximal or connected with charitable contributions, donors may have a decrease in the amount they are allowed as a deductible charitable contribution. The IRS requires that the University, including any related foundation, inform donors of the monetary value of gifts that they receive from the University in exchange for their charitable contributions to the University. 

It is the responsibility of the department providing the gift to a donor to notify the Development Office of the description and value of the item. In order to avoid mistakes and facilitate planning, groups providing a gift to a donor should contact the Development Office prior to ordering or purchasing an item. While it is recognized that certain gifts and benefits may play a crucial role in fundraising, and because of the complicated nature of complying with these acknowledgement rules, this policy discourages the use of gifts and benefits to donors without thoughtful consideration of their merit in connection with the fundraising effort. 

Approval of Host Expenditures: Approval of host expenditures must be obtained using the Hosting Expense Documentation and Approval form. Regardless of the signature authority on the account funding the expenditure, approval may only be made by the President, Executive Vice President & Provost, vice provost, vice president or dean. This approval may not be delegated below the dean. If the final cost exceeds the estimate by $500 the additional cost must be approved by the original signature authority. 

Pre-Approval of Event Tickets: Approval of host expenditures for event tickets in excess of $500 per ticket must be obtained from the president BEFORE the tickets are purchased.

Accounts Authorized for Hosting Expenditures: Each college or division may have one account under the control of the dean and/or vice president authorized for host expenditures. Additional hosting accounts, such as gift accounts or grants and contract accounts specifically identified by the donor or the grantor as allowing hosting must have the approval of the appropriate vice president or dean in order to be established.

Funding of Host Accounts: Funds may be transferred, upon approval of an authorized account signer and the controller, operations accountant or financial accountant, into each college or division host account from general unrestricted funds, excluding state appropriated funds or accounts established for recharge centers, grants and contract, or gifts.

Development Activities; Governmental Relations; and/or Table Purchases: For more information please refer to Section 1,068.

Exceptions to Hosting: When the above items are purchased in connection with the following activities, they ARE NOT considered hosting expenses:

  1. Participant Funded. If the above expenses are being paid from accounts where participants in seminars, conferences, or other such activities have paid for these expenses in advance and if it is specifically indicated that the expenses have been "paid for by participant fees" they are not considered hosting. Documentation for each specific expense transaction in the form of a class announcement, flyer, or registration form (which shows that meals or refreshments are included in the fees collected) must be attached to each payment request.
  2. Student Recruitment Activities.
  3. Student Athlete Recruitment, Team Meals & Training Tables.
  4. Payments from Agency Accounts (Fund Account 1900), unless reimbursement of an employee occurs.