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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Business Meals : 4:07:00:00

Policy/Guideline Area

Business and Finance Policies

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges, Universities, System Office


The purpose of this policy is to establish Tennessee Board of Regents processes and procedures regarding reimbursement for business meals and recognition events.


  1. Business Meals
    1. The institution may pay or reimburse properly documented meals which have a clear business purpose and setting.
      1. Business meals generally include at least one non-institutional employee. However, occasional gatherings of institutional employees may be reimbursed as business meals.
      2. Expenses may be incurred only for those individuals whose presence is necessary to the business discussion.
    2. In addition to an itemized receipt, IRS rules of substantiation of business expenses require documentation of the time, date, place, specific topic of discussion and attendees at the meals.
      1. Please note that the documentation requirements apply to all on-campus or off-campus business meals, regardless of payment method.
      2. Accordingly, all on-campus dining facilities require this documentation for all meals charged to departmental accounts.
    3. The institution will deny reimbursement for meal expenses that lack documentation or a clear business purpose. Gatherings that are primarily social in nature do not qualify for payment or reimbursement as business meals.
  2. Recognition Events
    1. Institutional funds may be used to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages for recognition, appreciation and/or retirement events if the event is in accordance with institutional policies and is reasonable in number and events per fiscal year and amount spent.
    2. Recognition gifts and retirement plaques are allowable up to a reasonable value limit per employee/retiree recognized, if in accordance with institutional policies.


TBR Board Meeting December 5, 2003; December 2, 2005; September 28, 2007; TBR Board Meeting June 19, 2015.


Mickey Sheen