Expense Guidance for Business Meals
In light of the generous public support Stanford receives from its donors, the significant federal
contribution to its research mission and the many valuable tax benefits granted under law,
Stanford recognizes its responsibility to be a good steward of the public trust.
Accordingly, members of the Stanford community are held to the highest standards of
stewardship for the funds that are placed in their trust. Individuals should employ the highest
standard of care in disbursing University funds.
Additionally, we must comply with Internal Revenue Service rules which prohibit the tax-free
treatment of lavish or extravagant meals or entertainment. Excessive expenses could lead to tax
penalties, additional taxable income to the employee, and required reimbursement to the
institution under IRS rules.
Scope of This Guidance
This guidance applies to all funds, including gifts, endowment income, sponsored programs,
designated income, unrestricted funds, and University general funds. This guidance applies to
all business meals, whether or not conducted in the context of promoting employee morale
or business entertainment. More restrictive policies and procedures may apply to individual
accounts. This guidance applies to all payment mechanisms, including direct invoice from
provider, P-card, petty cash and direct reimbursement.
Stanford’s Payment Policy
Stanford policy (AGM 36.4) allows business meals when:
There is a bona fide and substantial Stanford business purpose
The participants are actively engaged in Stanford business during the meal or
entertainment or immediately before or after
Appropriate and permissible funding sources are available
The purpose and amount of the expense demonstrate good judgment
The expense is properly documented (who, what, when, where, why)
The expense has been appropriately approved at a local level in accordance with the
requirements of the policy.