Meals for employees while away on College business or while conducting College business will be reimbursed.  Meal costs for business related participants will also be reimbursed.  The same IRS rules apply to meals taken locally or out of town.  The IRS states that expenditures for meals cannot be lavish or extravagant.  Regardless of the cost of the meal, employees must provide documentation on:

  1. who attended
  2. what was discussed
  3. how much it cost
  4. where the meal was taken
  5. the date

Receipts are required for meals over $50 if charged to your purchasing card and at a restaurant.  All other meals require receipts.  The itemized receipt showing the items ordered is required in addition to the credit card slip.  The itemized receipt shows us how many people were involved with the meal and helps us determine if the meal does not fall into the “lavish or extravagant” category as mentioned in the IRS Publication. 

The IRS requires that all meal expenditures must document the following information (regardless of cost):

  • List of attendees (self if alone)
  • The business purpose of the meal (topic of discussion)
  • The cost (supported by receipt)
  • The location
  • The date
  • Description of meal (i.e. lunch, dinner)

Also, for any meal charged to a federal grant: Principal Investigator must document that no alcohol was part of the cost that is being charged to the grant.

The College will not reimburse on a “per diem basis”.  When a meal is included in the cost of a conference, the College will not reimburse the employee for the cost of a meal taken during that period (i.e. if employee chooses not to attend the provided lunch, the College will not pay for an alternative lunch taken).

If an employee is dining out with a travel companion, only the cost of the employee’s meal may be charged.  Shared items must be prorated.


Employees are expected to act responsibly in relation to alcohol consumption while on a business trip.  The cost of a beverage with dinner will be reimbursed as part of the meal expense.  Very expensive bottles of wine, drinks that are not associated with a meal, or drinks taken at a bar will NOT be reimbursed.

Snacks and Other Incidental Items

Snacks and other incidental items such as magazines, toiletries, gum, mints, and medicine are considered personal items and are not reimbursable.  Unless in highly unusual circumstances mini-bar expenses are not reimbursed.

Local ( In-Town ) Meals

A “business meal” is defined as a meeting that is held during mealtime where the main purpose of the meeting is business and a meal is served.  In the case where employees must meet during the dining hour to discuss business the cost of the meal will be reimbursed or may be charged to the College. Whenever possible, employees should use the College facilities for business meals.  Routine get-togethers with associates are not considered business meals.  Business meals must have a stated business purpose.

Who should pay for Meals?

When dining with direct reports, the most senior level employee at the meal should pay for the meal, preferably on their College Purchasing Card. This insures that all expenditures receive a supervisor review. It is not appropriate for a Supervisor to ask a direct report to pay for a meal and then approve that direct report’s purchasing card reconciliation or reimbursement. Petty cash should not be used to pay for meals.

Supervisors wishing to recognize an employee or a department with a lunch, or supervisors holding a meeting during the lunch hour, should use the College facilities whenever possible.


Tips at the standard 15% (20% in major cities) on meals are reimbursable.  Tips on meals should be included as part of the cost of the meal on the travel expense report.  Tips to bellhops, maids, etc. should be totaled and listed separately on the travel expense under the appropriate ps account.

Transactions with Vendors

In the rare event that college funds are used to provide anything to a vendor (meal, t-shirt, etc), a Senior Staff member must review and approve that transaction.