UW-Madison Guidelines regarding the receipt of Honorariums

Honorarium:  a payment in recognition of acts or professional services for which custom or propriety forbids a price to be set (Dictionary.com)

The following best practices should be followed when receiving this type of income while representing UW-Madison.

Board of Regents Regent Policy Document 20-22 (Code of Ethics) (section III.C.2.b) states the following:

  1. No University Staff member who is assigned or acts as an official representative of a UW System institution in the presentation of papers, talks, demonstrations or making appearances shall solicit or accept fees, honoraria or reimbursement of expenses for personal gain.  Any fees, honoraria, or reimbursement of expenses which may be offered in connection therewith shall be paid to the University Staff member’s institution.
  2. Acceptance of fees and honoraria paid for papers, talks, demonstrations or appearances made by a University Staff member on the University Staff member’s own time, and not directly part of official duties, shall not be a violation of this rule.  University Staff members shall notify their supervisor or another appropriate administrator prior to accepting fees and honoraria for papers, talks, demonstrations, or appearances to ensure that no conflict of interest exists.

When a University Staff member is to receive honoraria in the manner described in 1. above, the individual should provide the UW Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number) to the payer and request that payment be made to UW-Madison.  If a check is received and the payee name is that of the individual, the check should be returned to the payer with a request that the check be reissued and made payable to UW-Madison.  When this receipt is deposited, it is to be treated as revenue on fund 136.  This is not a donation by the payer; something was provided in exchange for the receipt of the funds, so depositing on fund 233 is not appropriate.

If an honorarium is received and made payable to the individual and the payment cannot be returned to the payer to be reissued in the name of UW-Madison, the individual should cash the check and deposit personally, and should then write their own check to UW-Madison.  In this case, this income is tax reportable by the payer to the individual, and the individual has now made a donation to UW-Madison.  The amount donated by the individual to UW-Madison can be deposited on fund 233, and the individual would be recognized as the donor on the transaction.  Individuals should not endorse honorarium checks over to UW-Madison for deposit by the University.  Instead, two separate transactions should take place as described.

If a University Staff member is to receive honoraria in the manner described in 2. above, the individual should provide a personal Form W-9 to the payer and request that payment be issued to them personally.  UW-Madison has no involvement in this receipt as it was not represented in the presentation, talk, demonstration or appearance.

For questions and concerns relating to the appropriate treatment of income and/or associated donations by an individual, please contact a personal tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  UW-Madison and its employees cannot provide personal tax advice for legal reasons.