- IRS Publication 17 provides very specific guidance regarding taxable income of gifts given to employees that are paid with institutional funds. Due to the complexity of this regulation, as well as the cost to regulate policy, Regent University has taken the position that no employee gifts (both tangible and monetary, including gift cards) can be purchased with institutional funds except for gifts given as part of a Human Resource sponsored university wide function. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Human Resource Employee Christmas party give away
- Human Resource Employee Length of Service awards
- Retirement or farewell events for employees with more than 5 years of service. A general guideline is a maximum of $75. Years of service should be considered when determining the price of the gift.
- Illness of an employee or student requiring hospitalization.
- Memorial flowers upon the death of an employee or an employee's immediate family member (spouse, children, parents). Memorial gifts made on behalf of the employee may include donations to a charitable organization. In such cases, Regent University should be acknowledged as the sender, e.g. "from all your friends and colleagues at (University department)." A recommended limit for this gift is $75.
- Gifts to honor an individual for personal reasons other than those indicated above (e.g. birthday, wedding, baby shower/birth of a baby, promotion, etc) may not be charged to the University. Personal contributions among employees are the preferred method of providing such gifts.
- Gifts presented to employees may be subject to applicable Federal, State, and Local taxes. All employee gifts must be reported to the Payroll department for processing.
- Gift cards or certificates purchased with university or grant funds cannot exceed $50. They may only be given as prizes or giveaways for students at events or as incentives to research participants in a particular study. Also, gift cards may not be used as a form of honoraria for employees.
- A signed Authorization for the Purchase of Gift Cards/Gift Certificates is required. This form along with an original itemized receipt must be attached to the appropriate documentation for payment (Purchasing Card Statement or Expense Report). If gift cards are purchased with a Purchasing Card, they must all be given out by the end of the same month purchased.
- When gift cards are being purchased with grant funds, the following criteria must be met:
- The gift card is for research participant incentive payments only, and
- Costs for research participant incentive payments are included in the researcher's grant budget and allowable by the terms and conditions of the specific grant.
- In the event the gift cards are purchased for a study or research project where the participants are to remain anonymous, a Disbursement Log must be maintained by the department doing the study. The person disbursing the gift cards, as well as a designated department head, must update the disbursement log . At all times, the total of the undistributed gift cards and the disbursement log must equal the total of all gift cards purchased. All undistributed gift cards must be kept in a secure and locked environment.
- Gift cards are considered like "cash" and proper procedures must be followed to ensure effective controls of these cash convertible gifts. If proper controls are not followed, the employee becomes personally responsible for reimbursing the University for the cost of the gift cards.