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What is business entertainment?

Business entertainment is the term for taking people out to eat or ordering food for an event.  To claim a meal, you must have discussed research, classes, student recruitment, or any other topic that forwards the mission of the department for at least some portion of the meal.

If you take someone out to eat while traveling, these rules still apply. Note that you cannot claim the meal as both business entertainment and per diem.

If you frequently host business meals, consider applying for a Travel and Expense card. You will still have to supply receipts and information in Concur, but you will not have to use personal funds or the pcard.

Please do not ask students to pay for these expenses.

Who can attend a “business entertainment” event?

Faculty, staff, students, and non-UNC people can all attend.

Please note: At this time, we are not allowed to have events for employees only unless it is a structured retreat. (Student employees are considered students, not employees.) Faculty or staff retreats are allowed if they have a structured agenda and are pre-approved by Gillings.


  • Purchasing Card (P-Card) – Only the cardholder can use it. If no one present has one, the caterer/restaurant can send the bill to an admin assistant to pay. This is up to the restaurant.
  • Travel & Expense (T&E) Card – Full-time permanent employees may apply for one of these. Charges will appear in Concur and must be submitted in an expense report.
  • Check/Direct Deposit to Vendor – If the restaurant/caterer agrees, they can bill us after the fact.
  • Purchase Order – Only used if the event exceeds $5,000 or requires advanced payment.
  • Personal Funds – This is a last resort. If you do this, you cannot be reimbursed for sales tax. See “Requesting Reimbursement” below.

Events which require a contract may also be paid for on the P-Card or T&E Card if the contract has been reviewed and signed by Purchasing Services.

Sales Tax

The pcard and the Travel and Expense card are exempt from North Carolina sales tax.

  • This is not automatic; you must inform the restaurant before they charge the card.
  • If they require our tax exemption documentation; use this letter.
  • If the restaurant charges tax, you will be responsible for getting it refunded.
    • Exception 1: If you are not in North Carolina, we are not exempt.
    • Exception 2: If there is local sales tax for restaurants, we are not exempt.

If you pay out of pocket, you will not be reimbursed for sales tax.


The maximum allowable tip is 20%.


Alcohol cannot be purchased with a pcard, but it can be purchased with a T&E card or paid via check.

Alcohol may only be purchased from and distributed by a third-party vendor such as a professional caterer, bartender, or food & beverage establishment, with proper licensing and liability insurance. In other words, you can’t buy wine or beer at a grocery store and bring it to an event.

Please check with an administrative assistant first, as alcohol can only go on specific accounts.

Requesting Reimbursement

If you paid out of pocket, you can request reimbursement by filing as an expense report in Concur. You will either need to create it yourself or give access to a staff member to act as an Expense Delegate.

Full instructions on how to itemize a business meal expense can be found in Chapter 14 of the Step-by-Step Guidebook.

As a reminder, you cannot claim taxes or more than 20% tip.


Receipts – You must provide the itemized receipt and the signed receipt. The IRS requires both.
Names РIf fewer than 8 people attend the event, you must provide their names.


Business Entertainment Expenses Memo – not required for Concur, but possibly handy for taking notes for yourself.
Business Entertainment Policy
Concur – Filing an Expense Report
Tax Exemption Documentation

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