Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  • Can Brown employees be paid honoraria?
    • No, an employee of the University cannot be paid an honorarium.  If applicable, an additional payment can be made to an employee using the one-time payment process in Workday.
  • Can we pay an honorarium to a company?
    • No, only an individual can receive an honorarium.  A company would need to submit an invoice and be paid via supplier invoice.
  • If an honorarium is paid and that guest has associated expenses that Brown is offering to pay for, do I add that to the honorarium payment?
    • That is fine to add to the payment, however the Spend Category 3940, Visitor Travel should be used for the associated expenses.

Gift Cards:          

  • Can I purchase a gift card for a graduating student?
    • No.  Gift cards cannot be purchased for Brown employees or students
  • How should I properly store gift card recipient info?
    • There is not a standard software used, so we suggest storing gift card recipient information in password-protected document.

Expense Reimbursements:

  • I purchased my airline ticket several weeks prior to my business travel to get the best price. Do I have 60 days from the date purchased or 60 days from the last travel day to submit my expense report?  
    • All expenses reports need to be submitted within 60 days of the completion of travel.  Travel expenses purchased in advance (e.g., airline or train tickets or conference registration fees) can be reimbursed prior to travel. Alternatively, all expenses from a trip can be submitted together within 60 days of the completion of travel.
  • I will be away conducting research for the semester. Do I need to submit expense reports monthly? 
    • No. All expenses must be substantiated within 60 days of the completion of travel.
  • What date is used to determine timely submission?
    • The date an expense report is started in Workday is the date used to determine timely substantiation.
  • What do I do if my expense reimbursement is older than 60 days?
    • Submit the reimbursement as normal noting that the expense is “OVER 60 DAYS” in the header of the expense reimbursement.  The reimbursement will be paid as a taxable payment through Payroll.  If the reimbursement should be expensed against worktags other than those used for your salary/benefits, a journal entry will need to be submitted.  Please refer to Journal Entries for Expense Reimbursements Over 60 Days SOP
  • Can departments reimburse remote employees for meals purchased as part of a team-building exercise?
    • Yes - This is acceptable as an infrequent team building exercise. All participants must follow Brown's Annual Spending Guidelines as well as the AWA Expense Reimbursement Policy.
  • What is an acceptable “Proof of Payment” to submit with an expense reimbursement
    •  Payment showing $0 Balance
    • Receipt with last 4 digits of credit card indicating payment
    • Credit card statement
    • "Paid" with method of payment indicated (e.g. Paypal, Apple Pay, ect.)

Business Meals and Hospitality:

  • What do I do if the expenditure exceeds Brown University’s spending guidelines for business meals? 
    • If your expenditure exceeds the University’s spending guidelines, you will need to obtain Senior Officer approval for the reimbursement and then attach the approval to the reimbursement request.
  • When would I use the spend category Business Meals vs. Food and Provisions?   
    • Use the Business Meals spend category when dining in a restaurant or when purchasing meals/sandwiches from a grocery store (Spend Category: 3210D, Meals: Business Domestic)
    • Use the Food and Provisions spend category when purchasing food supplies for office use (Spend Category: 3230D, Food & Provisions Domestic)
  • When would I use the America To Go Catering spend category vs. External Catering? 
    • Use the America To Go Catering spend category when restaurant catering purchases for Brown Buys are made through the America to Go punch out process. (Spend Category: 3325, America to Go Catering)
    • Use the External Catering spend category for payments to individuals (who cannot be employees of the University), or to companies who provide catering services to the University (Spend Category 3317, Catering Services - External).
  • My department is hosting a conference. Does the business meals policy apply? 
    • A conference is a large, formal meeting with a clearly defined agenda where attendees register for the event.  Expenses associated at conferences hosted at Brown are charged to Conference Expense: Spend Category 3130.  The Business Meals and Hospitality policy does not apply.
  • When should I use the Business Meals and Hospitality Form?
    • If the number of attendees if 9 or less, the form is not needed and all names should be listed in the Expense Report submitted in Workday.
    • If the number of attendees is 10 or more, the form is also not needed and a group name can be used in the Expense Report submitted in Workday.

Researchers/Scholars Unaffiliated with Brown:

  • How can I find out what type of payment is permitted on a visa?
  • Why must the foreign national visitor enter immigration and tax status data into FNIS?
    • Brown University is required to comply with US tax and immigration law when making payments to foreign nationals.  Data entered directly into the FNIS database by the foreign national visitor permits an accurate review of his/her immigration data and will automatically generate US tax forms, such as form 8233 and the W-8 Ben that the visitor needs to sign.
  • How will the visitor gain access to FNIS?
    • A representative from the department hosting the visitor should contact the Tax Office ([email protected]) requesting access for the visitor.  The Tax Office will send a link to the database to the visitor using the email address provided.  An accompanying letter will explain the process to the visitor. 
  • Does the visitor have to enter his/her travel data into FNIS each time payment is requested?
    • Foreign national visitors must enter specific data pertaining to their immigration and tax status into FNIS.  This data needs to be entered and reviewed by the Tax Office prior to the visitor’s first payment.  This data must be refreshed at the beginning of every calendar year.  If payments to your visitor occur in two calendar years, your visitor must refresh his/her data at the start of the new calendar year.
  • Will I have to collect passport and visa documentation in the department?
    • Foreign Nationals receiving a fellowship payment are required to provide information, such as copies of passports, passport stamps, visas, etc., to support data entered into FNIS.  The Tax Office will request this information directly from the visitor however, if the visitor does not send the information we may request your assistance as the visitor cannot be paid until we receive the required documentation.
    • If the visitor is receiving an expense reimbursement only for travel, he/she will have to provide you with a copy of their visa and a signed copy of the Foreign Visitors Honoraria/Expense Reimbursement Attestation Form (form is required for B1/WB visa holders).
  • Is the fellowship subject to taxation?
    • Fellowship payments to US Citizens/Residents are not reportable on Form 1099.  However, they may be taxable.  The fellowship recipient should consult IRS Publication 520- Scholarships and Fellowships, and IRS Publication 970 – Tax Benefits for Education.
    • Fellowship payments to foreign nationals are reportable on Form 1042s.  If the foreign national fellowship recipient is the resident of a country with whom the United States has a tax treaty and also meets other criteria, the payment may not be taxed.  Otherwise, fellowship payments are taxed at a Federal rate of 14% and RI rate of 3.75%.
  • Are there time and amount limits imposed on this fellowship payment type?
    • No, fellowship payments are not subject to time limits and payment limits are dictated by budget decisions.
  • Must I pay a fellowship in a lump sum or may it be paid periodically (monthly)?
    • Fellowship payments may be paid in one lump sum or as periodic payments.  If paying periodically, you must attach to the supplier invoice both the Payments to Researchers/Scholars Unaffiliated with Brown Form and the letter of invitation to each supplier invoice.

Guest Speakers:

  • How do I know how to pay a Guest Speaker?
    • Please refer to the Payment Decision Tree to determine if it is an Honorarium payment
    • If not, an Honorarium, please refer to the Guest Speaker Processes below to determine the best process to follow if you are compensating or not compensating the speaker