330 Business Meals

UW-Madison Administrative Policy
Policy # 330

Effective Date: July 1, 2019
Last Updated: July 1, 2019
Last Reviewed: July 1, 2019
Next Review: Jan 1, 2020

Functional Owner: Controller, Division of Business Services, Dan Langer
Executive Sponsor: Controller, Division of Business Services, Dan Langer
Policy Contact: Travelers and departmental staff should contact their respective Divisional Business Office for policy questions. Divisional Business Offices may e-mail uwtravel@bussvc.wisc.edu with questions.

Policy Summary

University funds may be used to pay for group meals where UW business is conducted or the meal is otherwise supported by a UW business purpose.  Business Meals may have a social element, but are primarily business in nature.  Payment/reimbursement for Business Meals on UW funding is limited to pre-determined rates.  Amounts in excess of these rates and alcohol are not allowable on UW funding and may be charged to the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association if funding is available.

Note: Sponsored projects (fund 144 or 133) are subject to the terms and conditions of the specific award, as well as applicable program guidelines, which may restrict use of funds for certain types of expenses. Please contact the Research or Sponsored Programs accountant for your award with any questions.

Who This Policy Applies To

Faculty, staff, students and non-employees traveling or using funds and/or resources administered by the University.


This policy is designed to ensure prudent usage of University resources while minimizing the administrative burden for employees and support staff.

Policy Detail


I.Payable/Reimbursable Business Meals. Business Meals are payable/reimbursable when it is necessary to conduct UW business during a meal.  Common examples of payable/reimbursable Business Meals include:

  • Dinner with faculty members and a distinguished speaker after the speaker’s event
  • Lunch with an interview candidate and the interview committee
  • Lunch with a research team on-site when individual meals would be impractical or if research activities would be significantly disrupted if a meal were not provided.Note: For events that are catered, require a room/space rental, require a contract or charge a registration fee, see Hosted Events.  For events that are primarily social in nature, see Policy 340 – Official Functions and Expenses.

II.Payment/Reimbursement Rates. Payment/reimbursement of Business Meals using UW funding is limited to the following, per person, including tip:

Type of Meal Within Wisconsin Outside Wisconsin
Breakfast $12 $15
Lunch $18 $23
Dinner $30 $37

III.Use of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) Funds. Amounts in excess of the allowable per person limits or expenses for alcohol may be charged to Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) funds, if available.  The overall payment/reimbursement made with both UW and WFAA funds may not exceed $100/person, including tip.  Reimbursement for wine using WFAA funds may not exceed $50/bottle.

IV.Sales Tax. Sales tax is not payable/reimbursable for Business Meals in Wisconsin.  See Policy 500 – Tax Exemption for more information on sales tax in other states.

V. Tips are limited to 20%.

VI.Payment Methods. Payment for Business Meals with UW funding may be made via the Purchasing Card, My Corporate Card, or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.  Any Business Meal expenses to be charged to WFAA funding must be made with either the My Corporate Card or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.  Expense allocated to WFAA funding must not be paid with the Purchasing Card.

VII.Documentation Requirements. All Business Meals must be supported by an itemized receipt, an Event Form, an agenda and a list of attendees, including how each of the attendees is affiliated with the University.

Consequences for Noncompliance

The University will not pay or reimburse for any Business Meal cost that is non-compliant with this policy.  Failure to comply with UW-Madison Travel Policy or Procedures may result in disciplinary steps, up to and including dismissal.

Supporting Tools


  1. Business Meal: a breakfast, lunch or dinner with a UW business purpose attended by multiple individuals.  Business Meals are not catered, do not require a contract, and do not require a space or room rental.
  2. Business Purpose: provided explanation that adequately describes an expense as a necessary, reasonable, and appropriate business expense.
  3. UW Funds: funds controlled by the University of Wisconsin, including 233 funds (gifts).
  4. WFAA Funds: funds controlled by the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

Link to Related Policies


Policy Number: 330
Date Approved: July 1, 2019
Revision Dates: