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General Finance Policies

  • Stanford’s fiscal year runs from September 1 to August 31. 
  • Expenses must be submitted in a timely manner (within 10 days after the expense date or the last day of travel) to ensure there is sufficient time for the transactions to be verified and fully approved by Stanford's auditors before the IRS deadline. Per federal regulation, expenses verified after 60 days will be reported to the IRS as taxable income.
  • The Department of Art & Art History requires receipts for all purchases, regardless of value. Receipts must include:
    • Itemization of what was purchased
    • Credit card authorization or proof-of-payment
    • The names of all the participants and their titles or other information establishing their business relationship
  • Course funds may not be used for food unless prior written approval has been obtained from Elis Imboden, Director of Finance and Operations
  • All goods purchased using Stanford funds (including computers and specialty equipment) are owned by Stanford University, and must be surrendered to the University at the end of its useful life, or in the event that a faculty member’s employment with the University ends. Personal sales of Stanford property is strictly prohibited.
  • NO VENDOR PAYMENTS FOR REIMBURSEMENT: Stanford will not reimburse the personal payment of a vendor invoice. All payments to vendors (for services or goods) must be made by Stanford University, either by a Stanford Purchasing Card or by a Stanford-issued check requested using the Payments for Services or Goods Form.

Business Purposes

Per IRS Regulation Compliance requirements, all expenses at Stanford must have a business connection

  • They must have been incurred while performing services on behalf of the University
  • Expenses must be reasonable and necessary based on facts and circumstances
    • Reasonable means that the nature and amount of the expense does not exceed that which a prudent person would incur under the same circumstances. A good test is whether the individual could defend the expense if it came under public scrutiny.
    • A necessary expense is one that supports and furthers the University mission and its ongoing operation.
  • The Business Purpose must clearly document this business connection to the University, its mission, and the funding source. A Business Purpose should be written so that someone reading it at a future time (e.g., an auditor reviewing the expense 2-3 years later) would have no questions about the activity. The Business Purpose must describe:
    • Who (all attendees and Stanford affiliation)
    • What (the purpose of the expense and the expected outcome)
    • When (date and time for a meal, or inclusive dates of travel)
    • Where (Restaurant/City, or all travel destinations and dates in each location)
    • Why (descriptive connection to Stanford business)

Additional guidelines for writing a clear Business Purpose are available here: https://web.stanford.edu/group/fms/fingate/staff/reimburse/res_jobaid/guide_bus_purpose.html


Lecturer Research Accounts

Some lecturers receive funding grants from Stanford organizations in support of their research and teaching.  Award notifications must be forwarded to the Director of Finance and Operations to ensure an award account is created to receive the funding and track expenditures against the funding.

Lecturers are asked to keep track of their spending and the available funds in their research accounts. Overdrafts are not permitted; spending will not be approved without an available balance. Any lecturer with an overdraft will be required to write a check to Stanford University to cover the overdraft.

  • Questions about your current research account funding or expenses should be directed to the Assistant Manager.
  • All expenses must be submitted for processing via the Department webforms. You must include specific details as to how the purchase benefits your research and/or Stanford and include appropriate supporting documentation.
  • All goods purchased using Stanford funds (including computers and specialty equipment) are owned by Stanford University, and must be surrendered to the University at the end of its useful life, or in the event that the affiliate’s employment with the University ends. Personal sales of Stanford property is strictly prohibited.