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Approving Meetings and Entertainment

Read guidelines for approving meetings and entertainment, and find out how to establish and cancel approval authority.

Background: Because UC San Diego is a publicly supported institution, departments should spend entertainment funds prudently. Along with these guidelines, you can also refer to the Meetings and Entertainment Overview.

Note: Final approval must be by an authority who is not the host/meeting coordinator, and who does not report to the host/meeting coordinator.

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Entertainment guidelines

Before planning and approving entertainment, review the following guidelines:

Subject Guidelines

Benefits to UC San Diego

Ensure that the anticipated benefits outweigh the costs. You might explore alternatives to entertainment that would be equally effective in accomplishing the desired objectives.
Frequency of occurrence Check how often the event takes place in relation to the nature of the event. If it's on a routine basis, it generally cannot be considered entertainment and is not eligible for reimbursement.
Occasions and expenses Not all occasions qualify as official entertainment. Before authorizing, ensure that expenses are allowable. See a summary of standard and special entertainment.
Funding Some fund sources may not allow entertainment expenditures, so verify that available funds are appropriate for the expenses.
Appropriate amounts Expenses should not exceed the per-person maximum for the meal type. The maximum includes tax and tip but not facility or room rental fees, which can be claimed as an additional expense. If expenses exceed the per-person maximum:
  • It is considered special entertainment, which must be approved at the appropriate level.
  • Provide a written justification as to why higher costs were unavoidable and necessary to achieve the UC San Diego business purpose of the entertainment.
  • While the per-person maximum may be exceeded on occasion, it might trigger a taxable event for both the host and the guests depending on the circumstances and frequency. See tax issues listed below.
Tax issues The IRS considers entertainment expenses as reportable income to the host under the following circumstances:
  • Expenses are not substantiated with receipts (if for $75 or greater, or special entertainment in any amount).
  • The expenses are lavish or extravagant for the type of function.
  • The entertainment is not directly related to the employee's job.
  • The official host (or other designated employee) is not present when the activity takes place.

Obtaining approval

Standard entertainment: Can be approved by people who have delegated approval authority for entertainment and have filed a completed Approval Authority for University Entertainment (PDF) with Travel, Mail Code 0998. Approval authority varies by department, but in general the following positions can approve meetings and entertainment, if officially delegated:

  • All campus units: The chancellor and the vice chancellor – Business Affairs can authorize meeting and entertainment expenses for all campus units.
  • Vice chancellor areas: Vice chancellors and directors have authority to authorize meeting and entertainment expenses for all units under their jurisdiction.
  • School of Medicine: Department chairs, directors of institutes and organized research units, associate vice chancellors for health sciences and administration, and the associate dean of administration have approval authority for meeting and entertainment expenses.
  • UC San Diego Medical Center: The director of the UC San Diego Medical Center has approval authority.

Special entertainment: Entertainment that has either exceeded the maximum entertainment allowance or involves special occasions or spouses/ partners/ family members requires approval from someone with official delegation. In general the following positions can approve:

  • Chancellor (in all instances)
  • Vice chancellors (within their areas)

Note: The chancellor must approve further delegation of authority to approve special entertainment. This requires a specific delegation letter and an approval form (PDF). Contact Policy and Records Administration for details.

Exceptions: Special entertainment differs from approval for exception to policy. Only the director of Disbursements and Travel can approve exceptions to policy.

Canceling approval authority

To cancel meeting and entertainment approval authority:

  • Locate the departmental copy of the Approval Authority form (Excel). If you can't locate a copy of the form, or if your department didn't retain a copy, contact UC San Diego Travel.
  • Fill out the cancellation section of the form.
  • Mail the form to UC San Diego Travel, Mail Code 0998.

Approving entertainment

The approval template (PDF) allows the person with delegated approval authority for meetings and entertainment to review and approve online.

Approvers use MyApprovals to review and approve MyEvents claims. Routing is automatic and determined by the preparer’s INV/ENT template, which should follow these pathways:

  • Entertainment event routing/ hierarchy:

    Entertainment approval flowchart

  • Non-entertainment event routing/ hierarchy:

    Non-entertainment approval workflow

Note: MyEvents does not request approval from the entertainment approver when not required by policy, for these event types level 2 approval is skipped.

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Notice: UC San Diego policy for meetings, entertainment, and hosted events, as published in Blink, is decisive. It has been adapted to UC San Diego's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, chart of accounts, and processing applications. The source is UC Expenditures for Business Meetings, Entertainment, and Other Occasions.