Business Meals

The USM Foundation will reimburse reasonable meal expenses (including food, beverages, and tip) where a bona fide business purpose exists. Bona fide business purposes may include, but are not limited to, meals with: job applicants, guest speakers/lecturers, potential donors, board members, legislative influencers, vendors or independent contractors. The name and affiliation of the other person(s), and the business reason for their inclusion in the expense must be provided.

Meals with co-workers where the sole purpose is to discuss a business topic that could be discussed in an office setting are not reimbursable.

Cellular Phone Reimbursements

The USM Foundation will not purchase mobile phones for any employee or university employee, but will reimburse for business use of personal cell phones. There are three options for reimbursement of these expenses:

  1. Submit a Disbursement Request Form for actual expenses incurred for individual cell phone calls. The documentation should include copies of the itemized bill with the business calls clearly identified and noting the time, date, place, and business purpose of the call.
  2. Submit a Disbursement Request Form for the entire cell phone bill to be reimbursed with a signed statement that the entire use of the phone was for business purpose. This statement is made on our Cellular Phone Usage form. Complete the form and submit it along with a copy of the cell phone bill with the Disbursement Request Form.
  3. Submit a Disbursement Request Form for a portion of the cell phone bill. Use the Cellular Phone Usage form to identify the percentage of the usage that was for business purposes. Complete the form and submit with a copy of the cell phone bill with the Disbursement Request Form.

Employee Appreciation Gifts or Awards

Gifts to employees are generally discouraged and may violate state ethics laws. USM Foundation policy allows for reimbursement of non-cash employee gifts of a de minimis amount (valued at $150 or less per employee.)

Cash or cash equivalent (gift cards and certificates) gifts are never allowed.

This policy is based on current IRS regulations, which state that an employee may not need to report the value of a gift that is de minimis in nature. This rule also applies to flowers, plaques, t-shirts, etc. that are given to employees as an appreciation gift or award.

Faculty & Staff Awards

Payments made to university employees as bonuses, awards, or for services in excess of their usual duties must be included on the employee’s Form W-2. All such payments must therefore be made through the university payroll system, after which the USM Foundation can be asked to reimburse the university from the appropriate USM Foundation account.

Flowers/Memorial Contributions

The limit on flowers and memorial contributions is $150, including delivery and any taxes or other charges. Flowers may be sent, when intended as an expression of sympathy or concern related to the hospitalization of or memorial for an employee, his/her spouse, lineal descendants, adopted children, stepchildren, ancestors, siblings and members of the immediate household, as long as the cost does not exceed the above-noted limit. In-laws are not included. Congratulatory notices or flowers for the birth of a child or wedding are not included. Memorial contributions to charitable entities or other appropriate expressions of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, are acceptable, subject to the same restrictions. Multiple flower purchases and/or memorial contributions are not allowed for the same event.

Moving Expenses

Moving expense reimbursements are classified as either exempt or non-exempt fringe benefits. Exempt fringe benefits are not included in taxable income but non-exempt fringe benefits are included in taxable income. Exempt expenses can be reimbursed directly to the university employee or reimbursed to the university. Non-exempt expenses can only be reimbursed to the university as these expenses must be paid by the employer and included in the employee’s W-2.

All moving expense reimbursement arrangements should be clearly outlined in the employee’s job offer/relocation letter and submitted with the disbursement request.

Exempt moving expenses: The following moving expenses are exempt if the new main job location is at least 50 miles farther from the former home than the old main job location:

  • Moving your household goods and personal effects (including in-transit or foreign move storage expenses)
  • Travel expenses for yourself and members of your household (including lodging but not meals) to get to the new home. (Travel Reimbursements policies apply)
  • Auto expenses, if you use your car to take yourself, members of your household or personal effects to your new home. Reimbursement can be either actual expenses or a per mile rate as set by the IRS each year (the mileage rate used for moving expense reimbursement is a different rate than the mileage rate used for other business travel).

Non-exempt moving expenses: The following expenses are not exempt under tax law:

  • Pre-move house hunting trips
  • Temporary living expenses
  • Meal expenses while moving or living in temporary quarters
  • Expenses of buying or selling a home
  • Car tags, driver’s license, etc.

Personal Gifts

USM Foundation funds should not be used to purchase personal gifts, such as those for Administrative Assistant’s Day, Boss’s Day, a new baby, weddings, etc. This includes flowers, meals, or other tokens of congratulations or appreciation. These items are considered personal in nature and as such are not made for a business purpose as defined by the IRS. If USM Foundation funds are used to provide a “personal benefit,” both the USM Foundation and the person authorizing the expenditure are subject to IRS sanctions.

Staff Meetings, Luncheons, etc.

USM Foundation funds may be used to pay for bona fide staff meetings, luncheons, etc. The disbursement request must clearly state the purpose of the gathering and/or the business topics discussed and must include a complete list of attendees.

Retirement Events

USM Foundation funds may be used for retirement events but those must be pre-approved by the Dean or Vice-President and the USM Foundation. A budget for the event and a description or list of planned invitees should be provided as part of the pre-approval process.

Diner’s Card credit card

The USM Foundation has a corporate credit card program with Diners Club International. Individuals who incur Foundation related expenses on a frequent basis and in larger dollar amounts should request an application for a corporate credit card. We will review your request and make a determination as to whether you would qualify for this program.

Individuals who have been issued a corporate credit card must still follow all other guidelines related to reimbursement of expenses and failure to properly follow the documentation requirements or to meet other reimbursement guidelines will result in the card holder being held personally responsible for those non-reimbursable expenses charged to the Foundation credit card.


Our Vision

Our vision is to attract broad resources that transform the USM and its institutions, create a network of advocates to embrace the USM’s role as an educator and economic engine, and to grow a long-term, sustainable culture of philanthropy across the University System of Maryland.

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