University of Illinois System
Policies & Procedures
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8.1.1 Business Meals, Refreshments, and Alcohol

Policy Statement

Business meal expenses such as food, refreshments, and alcohol should be reasonable and necessary to accomplish the mission of the University of Illinois System and must have a bona fide business purpose. Business meal expenses for employees and non-employees are allowed.

The allowable maximum expenditure for business meals, receptions, and refreshments is:

  • $75 per person per meal

Amount limits apply to all providers, including restaurants, caterers, and University of Illinois System-operated food service, excluding allowable expenditures for tax, tips, and service charges.

Expenses in excess of the allowable limit must have written approval from the dean, vice chancellor, assistant vice president, or provost, unless he or she will be attending the event. In that case, obtain written approval from the head of the next higher administrative unit not attending the event. This supporting documentation must be retained in the unit’s records.

Expenses for individual business meals associated with virtual meetings must have written approval from the dean, vice chancellor, associate chancellor, assistant vice president, provost, or their delegate, and the approval should be submitted with the expense report.

For provosts, expenses in excess of the allowable limit do not require additional written approval. The reimbursement/payment request must note that the expenses exceeding the allowable maximum expenditure limit are for a provost.

The system is exempt from Illinois state sales tax and has reciprocal agreements with some other states. Employees should ask for this exemption.

The University of Illinois System is subject to and complies with Illinois Public Act 95-0847 which sets forth criteria for the service or sale of alcoholic beverages in buildings under the control of the Board of Trustees. Alcohol must be served only in accordance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations and only to those guests and participants twenty-one years of age or older and who are drinking responsibly.

Employees must follow policies and procedures controlling the possession, service, sale or consumption of alcohol at their university.

For the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, alcohol served at unit events must be pre-approved following the process outlined in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Alcohol Management Policy.

Business meal expenses related to sponsored awards or other restricted fund types must follow applicable regulations.

Reason for the Policy

The University of Illinois System follows the IRS's accountable plan rules for business expenses found in Treasury Reg. §1.62-2. Additional information regarding these requirement can be found in IRS Publication 463.The accountable plan rules apply to all reimbursements, allowances, or advances to employees for authorized business expenditures.

Applicability of the Policy

Business meal, refreshment, and alcohol charges incurred in the conduct of University of Illinois System business.


Purchasing business meals, refreshments, and alcohol requires units to consider the procurement method, fund type restrictions, required supporting documentation, and any additional policy requirements.

How to Purchase

Business meals, refreshments, and alcohol may be purchased using:

  • TCard
  • Purchase Order
  • Reimbursed personal funds

Do not purchase business meals with a PCard.

Supporting Documentation

Include the following information when processing payments:

  • The business purpose of the meeting/activity (how it benefited the System) as required by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Itemized receipt or invoice detailing all food and beverage purchases.
  • The number of attendees.
  • Affiliation of attendees. Do not list by name but indicate whether they were employees or non-employees.
  • Whether alcohol was served.

Fund Type Limitations for Alcohol

Alcohol purchases are not allowed from the following types of funds:

  • State funds;
  • Self-supporting funds with a Storeroom & Service Activities fund type (3E); and
  • Grant funds

Related Policies and Procedures

1 Fiscal Environment - Approval of Financial Documents
19 Contracts
16 Grants and Research Contracts - Sponsored Projects Cost Principles: Treatment of Select Items of Cost

Additional Resources

University of Illinois Alcoholic Beverages Management Policy
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Alcohol Management Policy
Illinois Public Act 95-0847
Providing a Detailed Business Purpose/Justification

Last Updated: July 14, 2022 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: March 09, 2020