Gift Cards | Entertainment | Special Gestures | Reporting/Approval of Expenditures | Exceptions

General Information

Reasonable expenses when interacting with external constituencies conducting the business of the Colleges are reimbursed (trustees, donors, alumni, parents, vendors, job candidates, professional guests, etc.). Interactions among faculty/staff/students are not generally reimbursed.

Use of Gift Cards or Gift Certificates

Due to required tax reporting by the IRS to the recipient of a gift card or gift certificate, the Colleges’ policy is that it is not appropriate to use gift cards or gift certificates for most activities including the following:

  • As a thank you
  • As a prize or award
  • As a congratulations
  • In lieu of compensation
  • As a motivational instrument
  • For a meal, movie (any non-tangible item)
  • For a raffle or prize
  • As a condolence
  • As a parting gift
  • As a programming incentive
  • As a rebate
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

To comply with institutional and federal guidelines, a gift must be tangible personal property, i.e., merchandise whose value cannot exceed $75.00. Examples of gifts of tangible personal property include: flowers, books, candy, HWS memorabilia, food baskets, etc.

Any gift in excess of $75.00 will be considered taxable income and reported as such to the recipient.

The only exception to this policy is the use of Gift Cards or Gift Certificates for Human Subject Research Compensation:

Generally, payments of $75.00 or less can be made by cash or gift card and do not require collection of a participant’s SSN/ITIN. Payments greater than $75.00 must be paid by an accounts payable check with the participants completed form W-9.

If HWS pays $600 or more to a US tax resident during the calendar year, then HWS is required to report the payments to the IRS and issue the recipient a Form 1099. Payments to foreign nationals contact Elaine Ferrara in the business office for further information. Where reporting is required, HWS must collect a W-9 (the recipient’s full legal name, SSN/ITIN (or HUID), permanent address, mailing address if different. Contact Elaine Ferrara for further information.

In the event of an IRS or sponsored audit, it will be the responsibility of the Researcher to supply all required supporting documentation for human subject payments made from the researcher’s accounts.


Costs for meals incurred while conducting the business of the Colleges are reimbursable as long as they are not lavish or extravagant.  See the Colleges’ Travel Expense Reimbursement Guidelines for more information on meal cost reimbursement.

Note: Direct billing arrangements are available at several area restaurants (check with the Business Office for information).

Entertainment of Students
Entertainment of individual students is not normally reimbursed.

Light refreshments for receptions, lectures, and other special events are reimbursable.

Occasional entertainment of student volunteers by department chairs/directors as a "thank you" is reimbursable

Occasional (at most once per semester) inexpensive entertainment (pizza, etc.) of paid student workers by department chairs/directors as a "thank you" is reimbursable.

Student parting or holiday celebrations are not reimbursed.

Note: Exceptions to this section exist for purposes of the Provost’s student interaction fund as well as other student programming areas.

Entertainment of Faculty/Staff Members
Entertainment of fellow faculty/staff is not normally reimbursed

The Colleges will not normally pay for meals (on or off campus) for faculty/staff meetings; however, infrequent meals for groups conducting the business of the Colleges during the lunch or dinner hours are reimbursable.

Annual faculty/staff retreats that are for the purposes of professional development are reimbursable; such events should have a reasonable cost and be budgeted as part of the regular departmental budget process.

Faculty/staff birthday, holiday or other celebrations are not reimbursed.  Celebrations for the parting, retirement, tenure or promotion of an employee may be authorized by the appropriate member of Senior Staff.  A departing employee should have served the Colleges for longer than five years.  Reimbursement will be made for reasonable costs of such celebrations with receipts that are accompanied by appropriate documentation of the Senior Staff member’s approval and the verification of the parting employee’s years of service.

Special Gestures

Individual and /or departmental gifts for parting, retirement, thank you, holidays, etc. are not reimbursed.  A reasonable gift may be authorized by the appropriate member of Senior Staff for the parting or retirement of an employee who has served the Colleges for longer than five years.  No reimbursement of this cost will be made without appropriate documentation of this approval and the verification of the parting employee’s years of service.

A reasonable gift for the non-faculty/staff host of a gathering is reimbursable.

Illness, Birth and Condolence Gestures
For employee inpatient hospital stays, department chairs/directors may send flowers, reimbursed up to $75.

For birth or adoption, department chairs/directors may send a congratulatory gift, reimbursed up to $75.

In the case of the death of an employee or member of an employee’s immediate family, department chairs/directors may send flowers or, if preferred, a memorial contribution of up to $75.

Further gestures made by individuals are not reimbursed.

Reporting and Approval of Expenditures

Requests for reimbursement must be made on the form appropriate to the expense, in most cases, a Request for Reimbursement Form will be appropriate (copies can be obtained on the web or in the Business Office). The request should indicate date, cost, location, business purpose, and names of those participating. The form should be approved by a supervisor, department chair or authorized signer on the account to which the expense will be charged. Original receipts for all items must be attached (see exception for certain meal receipts in the Travel Expense Reimbursement Guidelines).

Exceptions to these Guidelines

Exceptions must be recommended by the President or appropriate member of senior staff (in such cases written explanation should accompany the reimbursement request) - final disbursement authority rests with the Business Office.



Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.