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Administrative and Financial

GIFT POLICY

Scope

Faculty, staff, and students

I. General Policy Statement

This policy addresses the giving of gifts using University funds, and the related tax consequences.

II. Reason for Policy/Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to identify the circumstances under which gifts that are purchased with University funds can/cannot be given, the form of such gifts can/cannot take, and, where applicable, any tax withholding or reporting requirements related to giving such gifts.

III. Policy

Policy Guidance and Information is provided under the following sections:

  1. Length of Service Awards.
  2. Retirement Gifts to University Employees.
  3. Life Event Gifts to Employees
  4. Gifts to Non-employees
  5. Gifts to Students
  6. Gifts to Student Athletes
  7. Charitable Contributions
  8. Additional Important Information
  9. Unallowable Gifts
  10. Payments Not Covered Under this Policy
1. Length-of-Service Awards

Salute to Service, a University-wide recognition program for employees celebrating milestone anniversaries beginning at 25 years of service, and continuing at 5 year increments, is administered by the Office of Human Resources. The awards given under this program meet the specific requirements of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 74(c) to qualify as achievement awards that are non-taxable to the employee. Awards/gifts to individuals by departments using University funds for length of service are not allowed.

2. Retirement Gifts

The following guidelines have been developed in accordance with current Internal Revenue Service regulations:

  1. Timing - The retirement gift may not be made to an employee with less than five years of service.
  2. Dollar Limit - The value or cost of the gift should not exceed $400, which is the current IRS threshold for taxability. Retirement gifts with a value or cost over $400 will be taxable to the recipient to the extent the value or cost exceeds the dollar limit (e.g., if a gift with a value of $450 is given, the $50 value that is in excess of $400, is taxable to the employee). Also, if an employee receives a length-of-service award (as described in #1 above) and a retirement gift in the same calendar year, and if the combined value or cost of the award(s) exceeds $400, the excess over $400 is taxable to the employee.
  3. Form of Gift - It is recommended that retirement gifts be in the form of tangible personal property. If a retirement gift is given in the form of cash, check, or gift certificate, the entire value of the gift is additional wages subject to tax withholding regardless of the cost or value.
  4. Meaningful Presentation - gift must be presented as part of a special event or celebration that marks the occasion, such as a departmental meeting, party, or luncheon.

3. Life Event Gifts to Employees

Gifts of tangible personal property, such as flowers, may be presented as an expression of celebration in the event of the birth or adoption of a child to the employee, an expression of concern in the event of an illness, hospitalization, or surgery of the employee, or an expression of sympathy in the event of the death of the employee or a member of the employee's immediate family or household.

  1. Under IRC Section 132(e) an employer may give tangible personal property gifts of nominal value on a tax free basis. The University has established its nominal value to be $75 or less. Gifts in excess of $75 must be authorized by the Division Head. The total value of any tangible personal property gift in excess of $75 may be taxable income to the employee recipient.
  2. Cash Contribution - As an alternative to a gift of tangible personal property for celebration, concern, or sympathy, a cash contribution may be made to a registered charitable organization. Such contributions must be made by University check and be accompanied by a transmittal letter on official University letterhead, which states that the donation was made by the University in honor of the employee. Proof of an organization's tax-exempt/charitable status must be provided when requested by the Comptroller's Office. These contributions may be made up to $75. Contributions may not be made to any non-charitable organization or to any political campaign, political party, committee or group engaged in any attempt to influence the general public with respect to legislative matters, elections or referendums.

4. Gifts to Non-employees

Gifts of tangible personal property to non-employees (trustees, donors, business associates, visiting dignitaries, alumni, guests) that are not given as payment for services provided to the University are allowable as follows:

  1. Gifts of tangible personal property, (ceremonial objects, regalia, Syracuse University clothing and accessories or other memorabilia, etc.) may be presented as an expression of recognition of an individual's accomplishments or achievements at the University and/or in the community, or of life events (birth, death, etc.). Expenditures for gifts given to non-employees must be properly substantiated with appropriate documentation and reported to Disbursements Processing.
  2. Gifts of cash or cash equivalents are not allowed (gift cards are not acceptable).
  3. Such gifts, if in excess of $75, must be authorized by the Division Head of the paying department. The authorization must be documented and accompany the substantiation of the expense.
  4. The value of gifts of this nature may be taxable to the recipient and reportable by the University to the recipient and to the IRS to the extent they exceed IRS thresholds

5. Gifts to Students

A student is any currently enrolled individual who holds temporary, part-time, full-time, undergraduate and/or graduate status who is not a student athlete (as defined below in section 6).

  1. Gifts of tangible personal property may be given to students for academic or other University achievement/recognition/competition, or as part of student-life events. Expenditures for gifts given to students must be properly substantiated with appropriate documentation and reported to Disbursements Processing. The value of gifts of this nature may be taxable to the recipient and reportable by the University to the recipient and to the IRS to the extent they exceed IRS thresholds.
  2. Gifts of cash or cash equivalents are not allowed (gift cards are not acceptable).
  3. Such gifts, if in excess of $75, must be authorized by the Division Head of the paying department. The authorization must be documented and accompany the substantiation of the expense.
  4. Gifts made to students may impact the student's financial aid package.
6. Gifts to Student Athletes

A student athlete is any student whose enrollment was solicited by a member of the Athletics staff or other representative of Athletics interests with a view toward the student's ultimate participation in the intercollegiate athletics program. This includes prospective students not yet enrolled. Any other student becomes a student-athlete only when the student reports for an intercollegiate squad that is under the jurisdiction of the Athletics Department.

  1. Any and all gifts to student athletes must receive prior written approval by the Office of Athletic Compliance to assure that they comply with NCAA rules.
  2. Gifts of tangible personal property may be given to student athletes for academic or other University achievement/recognition/competition, or as part of student-life events. Expenditures for gifts given to student athletes must be properly substantiated with appropriate documentation and reported to Disbursements Processing. The value of gifts of this nature may be taxable to the recipient and reportable by the University to the recipient and to the IRS to the extent they exceed IRS thresholds
  3. Gifts of cash or cash equivalents are not allowed (gift cards are not acceptable).
  4. Such gifts, if in excess of $75, must be authorized by the Division Head of the paying department. The authorization must be documented and accompany the substantiation of the expense.
  5. Gifts made to students may impact the student's financial aid package.

7. Charitable Contributions

Gifts to Charitable organizations (other than Life Event Gifts described in #3 above) must be authorized by one of the following: Chancellor, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Vice Chancellor and Provost, Executive Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs, or Secretary to the Board of Trustees. The authorization must be documented and accompany the request for the contribution. Contributions must be made by University check and be accompanied by a transmittal letter on official University letterhead, which states that the donation was made on behalf of the University. Proof of the recipient organization's tax-exempt/charitable status must be provided when requested by the Comptroller's Office. Contributions may not be made to any non-charitable organization or to any political campaign, political party, committee or group engaged in any attempt to influence the general public with respect to legislative matters, elections or referendums.

8. Additional Important Information

  1. Gifts allowable under this policy cannot be purchased or reimbursed with sponsored funds (i.e. Fund 13).
  2. Under no circumstances will employees or non-employees be reimbursed for gifts of cash or personal check given to employees, students, guests or others.
  3. Gifts to non-resident aliens are subject to tax withholding and reporting. For more information on nonresident alien taxation contact the Payroll Office at ext.5117.

9. Unallowable Gifts

  1. Except as set forth in Section 3 above, gifts for celebratory events and/or to honor individuals for personal, non-work related achievements or events (e.g., birthdays, holidays, Administrative Professional's Day, termination of employment that is not retirement, weddings, baby showers, house-warming, etc.).
  2. Gifts to individuals or entities unrelated to Syracuse University (e.g., the UPS/FedEx delivery person).
  3. Contributions to any non-charitable organization or to any political campaign, political party, committee or group engaged in any attempt to influence the general public with respect to legislative matters, elections or referendums.
  4. As the University is a registered lobbying organization, state and federal laws regulate the giving of gifts to local, state, and federal officials by any employee. The University does not allow the giving of gifts to elected officials or government employees. Also not allowed are tokens of appreciation or recognition, or providing travel or meals related to official University events or business, without first contacting the Office of Government and Community Relations.
  5. Intangible property.

10. Payments Not Covered Under this Policy

  1. Employment performance-based payments to employees. These must be paid through Payroll.
  2. Payments for services provided to the University by non-employees
  3. Payments to research subjects and survey participants. These are payments for services.
  4. Expenses incurred to promote general morale, such as occasional group luncheons or gatherings to celebrate anniversaries, achievements, or holidays. These are ordinary business expenses.
  5. De-minimis ($25 or less, non-cash/non-gift certificate) items that are given for marketing purposes (pens, cups, posters, T-shirts, etc.). These are ordinary business expenses.

IV. To Whom Does This Policy Apply

Students, Faculty, Staff

V. Appendices (as applicable)

A. Procedures

The procedures for making purchases of tangible personal property using University funds should be followed as indicated in the policies referenced in Section D.

B. Definitions

Cash Equivalent - Cash equivalents include gift cards and gift certificates, as well as U.S. government treasury bills, bank certificates of deposit, bankers' acceptances, corporate commercial paper, money market instruments, other short-term securities, and cash like instruments.

Tangible Personal Property - Property, except land or buildings, that can be seen, weighed, measured, felt, touched, or otherwise perceived by the senses. Tangible personal property generally does not include items without a physical form such as stocks, bonds, copyrights, deeds, liquor licenses, etc. These items are Intangible Property and are never allowable. For purposes of this policy, cash is not tangible personal property.

C. Forms

Requisition forms are utilized.

D. Other Related Policies and Documents

Expenditure of University Funds
Purchasing, Procurement Agreements
Expenses, Reimbursement of University Credit Card Policy


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