The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct University business. This policy outlines the guiding principles, reimbursement and travel policies and examples of business-related expenses at Stanford University. This policy applies to all fund types and business expenses, including travel undertaken for university business and purchases of items to be owned by Stanford. It should be used in conjunction with resources and procedural information on the Gateway to Financial Activities (Fingate) website.
This policy is applicable to direct payments and reimbursements of:
Additional information on purchasing methods can be found in AGM 5.3: Purchasing Goods and Services.
a. Supporting University Travelers
Stanford is committed to supporting domestic and international research, business and educational travel that advances the university’s mission, except when circumstances pose a significant risk to health or safety. Exigent circumstances may necessitate additional restrictions or guidance with regard to travel on behalf of the university.
Definition of University-Sponsored Travel
University-sponsored travel is defined as when the university pays directly or reimburses individuals for travel expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. This includes the use of any funding source for which the university has financial responsibility and accountability, including operating budgets, donor gifts, federally-sponsored grants and awards, and any other restricted or unrestricted fund. Student and postdoctoral scholar travel that is directly related to their individual course of study, or for which academic credit may be awarded, is considered university-sponsored travel, even if the travel is funded via their base financial support.
The University reimburses individuals under the IRS Accountable Plan when the IRS regulations are met. Under this plan, the reimbursement is not taxable as income to the employee if the expense has a business connection and is also submitted in a timely manner (see sections below). In addition to expenses being reasonable and necessary, the requirements for reimbursement under the IRS Accountable Plan include the following:
a. Business Connection and Substantiation of Expense
Expenses incurred must have a business connection; that is, they must have been paid or incurred while performing Stanford business. The business connection must be adequately explained and documented in the University’s records. Documentation must include:
b. Timeliness of Transaction
Expenses should be submitted immediately and no later than 60 days after being incurred (e.g., return date from trip), or a reasonable explanation must be provided for an exception to be granted. Reimbursable expenses that are submitted after 60 days will be reported as taxable income to the IRS.
c. Non-employee Travel: Students and Visitors
In addition, if the individual incurring the expense is not an employee of the university, additional requirements apply:
a. Examples of Appropriate Business Expenses
b. Examples of Inappropriate Expenses