Meals and Entertainment

Travel and Entertainment Policy

Travel Meals:

Travel meal expenses are the cost of meals when on an out-of-town or overnight business trip. Actual and reasonable meal expenses (including gratuities) will be reimbursed up to the daily meal per diem rate allowable using the United States government guidelines for each locality. The following criteria will be utilized when reimbursing personal travel meals:

  • Any costs over and above the daily per diem rate will not be reimbursed.
  • Meals in route are allowable during business travel days (from one day prior to the actual dates of University business related activity through the final day of the University related activity).
  • Although the allowable daily per diem rate will not be prorated for partial days (the day of departure and return), meal receipts at the home city will not be accepted or reimbursed, with the exception of meal receipts at the home city airport. Acceptable receipts are:
    • an itemized bill
    • a personal credit card receipt
    • cash register receipt
    • American Express statement
  • Although meal receipts are the preferred method, travelers have the option of claiming 75% or less of meal per diem in lieu of submitting meal receipts. Please note: only one method can be used for each trip. A combination of 75% per diem allowance and receipts for different days on the same trip is not allowable.

Meals (with others):

Every effort should be made to obtain a receipt from restaurant establishments. However, it is understood that when joining in a group meal with colleagues, it may not be possible to get a separate check. In this case, we recommend the following:

  • Ask the waiter to charge your portion of the meal expense to your credit card.  Your personal credit card receipt is sufficient documentation for the reimbursement.
  • If you are paying for the entire meal and getting reimbursed by your colleagues for their portion, simply write the # of individuals attending the meal on the receipt and divide the total by that number to identify your portion of the meal.  Enter your portion on the expense report.
  • A restaurant tear tab may be submitted as supporting documentation of the expense when you are unable to get receipts as described in items 1) and 2) above. The tear tab must contain the name of the restaurant, date, total amount and the signature of the claimant (faculty/staff member). Tear tabs should be used on an exception basis only.

Business Meals:

Business meals are those meals taken with clients, prospects or non-University associates during which a specific business discussion takes place. Actual and reasonable meal expenses (including gratuities up to 20%) will be reimbursed. Check with Sponsored Programs before incurring any business meals on a sponsored agreement.

Entertainment Expenses:

Entertainment Expenses are those expenses incurred while entertaining guests of the University and include events such as social and recreational activities, when a business discussion takes place immediately before, during or after the event. Entertainment expenses must be approved IN ADVANCE by the employee's immediate supervisor. Entertainment expenses are unallowable on federally-sponsored agreements.

Required Documentation - Business & Entertainment:

No receipt is required for expenses $50 and under.

Original receipts such as an itemized bill, credit card receipt, cash register receipt, or American Express statement are acceptable receipts.  Every effort should be made to obtain an itemized receipt from restaurant establishments.

To be in compliance with IRS regulations, the following information must be included on employee expense reports as support for all business meal and entertainment expenses:

  • Name, company, and business relationship of all attendees
  • Name and location of the establishment
  • Where the event took place
  • Amount and date of the expense
  • Description indicating the business purpose of the expenditure

Expense Parameters/Limitations:

It is expected that all Saint Louis University faculty and staff will exercise appropriate care in incurring such expenses. Due to the University's tax status as a non-profit charitable and educational institution, business and entertainment expenses should be moderate both in frequency and in amount. Internal Revenue Service Regulations consider all payments made to or on behalf of employees to be taxable income, subject to withholding, unless there is a specific IRS exemption for the type of payment being made. Only non-taxable payments, as identified herein, can be processed through the employee expense report.

Expenditure Limits Gifts and Memorials:

$50 limit for gifts and memorials (e.g. flowers on the occasion of birth, death, illness) to employees or their families. University departments should be encouraged to continue maintaining employee funded "flower funds" to pay for these gifts. University funds can supplement these gifts. These expenditures are unallowable on sponsored agreements.

Employee Appreciation Events:

$20 limit per employee for the following events: Christmas Parties, Retirement Parties, and Recognition for tasks beyond normal job duties (e.g. participation on a special task force). These expenditures are unallowable on sponsored agreements.

Non-Reimbursable Meals and Entertainment Expenses:

  • Meals and/or entertainment solely between or among employees except in unusual circumstances and with the specific approval of either the respective Dean or AVP.
  • Payments for employees to attend University sponsored social events
  • Cost of personal celebrations such as birthdays, promotions, showers, administrative professional's week including decorations, flowers or gifts

Reviewed 5/22/18

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