Requesting an Honorarium Payment

Overview

An honorarium is payment in recognition of an individual's or organization's special service or distinguished achievement where propriety precludes setting a fixed price. Honorarium payments are paid in lieu of any other payment of fees for service.  In accordance with University policy (Accounting Manual D-371-35), University faculty, University academic employees, non-University employees, and third parties (in limited circumstances) are eligible to receive honoraria payments.

Activities for which an honorarium payment can be made include:

  • Special lecture, a short series of such lectures, concert, or other creative academic-related activities
  • Short-term participation in a seminar or workshop as a guest speaker or panelist
  • A speaking engagement
  • Appraisal of a manuscript or article submitted to a professional publication

Transactions that cannot be paid by honorarium include:

  • Performance fees for entertainers or speakers at a non-academic based university event
  • Services provided by Independent Consultants and Contractors (BFB-BUS-34)
  • Additional compensation for summer session teaching, University Extension teaching, or extramurally funded research 

Honoraria payments paid to non-resident alien visitors are subject to the restrictions of their visa classification. Requirements for payment of honoraria to non-resident alien visitors:

  • Payee must have an appropriate visa type: B1, B2, WB or WT
  • Usual academic activity form not exceeding 9 days in duration
  • Individual has not received honoraria from more than five educational institutions in the past six months

If an individual chooses to assign or transfer her or his honoraria payment to another individual or entity, the individual is not relieved of Federal income tax liability.  An honorarium earned by the individual is reportable as additional income to the individual even if the actual payment is made to a charity or other third party. 

An individual can decline the honorarium and request (but not demand) that the honorarium be donated by the University to a third party. The individual must indicate in writing in advance of the activity for which the honorarium is being paid that they wish to have the University make the donation.  Because the individual declined the honorarium before it was earned, there is no taxable income.

Fund restrictions:

  • Federal funds generally cannot be charged unless a contract or grant specifically authorizes such payments. Honorarium payments may be charged to certain federal contracts and grants if it can be established that such a service benefits a project.  If so, then honorarium payments should be specified as direct cost items at the time a contract or grant proposal is prepared.
  • State funds cannot be used to make honorarium payments above $1,500.

Paying Honorarium

For honoraria payments to a UCSF employee, follow the instructions for the One-Time Payroll Payment Authorization – FT (UPAY 5642A) and include the information listed below.

  • In general, University faculty and full-time academic appointees are not eligible to receive additional compensation for activities related to their recognized University duties.  See Campus Administrative Policy 300-29 for allowable honoraria activities. 

For honoraria payments to non-employees, departments should submit the BearBuy Payment Request Form with all of the following information.  Payment Requests cannot be processed if any information is missing. 

Information required for all honoraria requests:

  • The payee’s Social Security number (SSN/Doc-C), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN/Doc-C), or Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (W-7) for U.S. residents or resident aliens
  • The payee’s name and address
  • The payee’s employment status (UC employee or non-employee)
  • State of residency
  • The date(s) applicable to the honorarium
  • Flyer or announcement of lecture, panel discussion or invitation letter
  • An honorarium payment of $1,501 to $3,000 requires an Honorarium Exception Request Form and an additional approval from the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs.

For non-resident aliens, in addition to the list above, you must provide:

  • Certificate of Academic Activity (non-resident alien visitor/Doc-B)
  • Proof of visa status or I-94 (non-resident alien visitor/Doc-A) - Arrive-Departure document completed by Customs Agent when entering the US; visa type is usually noted on this document
  • Country of residency
  • Taxes will be withheld from payment if the non-resident alien does not submit both

If the individual has not been previously designated as a payee in PeopleSoft, departments are required to submit a W-9 Form (for U.S. citizens) or W-8BEN (for non-resident alien visitors) to create a new payee. 

Additional Guidance

See Disbursements: Honoraria Payments (Accounting Manual D-371-35) for additional policy details. 

Approval Authority

  • Payments up to $1,500 require departmental approval only.
  • Honorarium payments of $1,501 up to a maximum of $3,000 must be approved by the Vice Provost—Academic Affairs. 
  • In rare circumstances, honorarium payments over $3,000 may be requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  See the "Special Approval Required for Miscellaneous Expenses" section of the UCSF Travel and Entertainment Approval Matrix for delegated approval authority. 

Tax Withholding from Honoraria Payments

Federal (IRS) Tax Laws

Honoraria payments to U.S. citizens and resident aliens are not subject to federal tax withholding. Individuals must properly report these payments when submitting their annual tax returns.

See Understanding Non-Resident Tax Withholding for information about tax withholding from honoraria payments made to residents of foreign countries.  

California (CA) State Withholding Tax Laws

Honoraria payments to residents of California are not subject to California state withholding.  Individuals must properly report these payments when submitting their annual tax returns.  

Non-California residents (including U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and residents of foreign countries) are subject to State income tax withholding of 7% of the gross amount if the total payments exceed $1,500 during the calendar year.  See Understanding Non-Resident Tax Withholding for more information about California tax withholding on honoraria payments.  

"Gross Up" of Amounts

If withholding is required, departments have the option of “grossing up” the requested payment amount so that the individual (non-resident aliens only) will receive the full promised amount. Payments to U.S. citizens and resident aliens may not be "grossed up".

Taxes for Honoraria Payments Assigned, Transferred, or Declined and Donated

If an individual chooses to assign or transfer her or his honoraria payment to another individual or entity, the individual is not relieved of Federal income tax liability. An honorarium earned by the individual is reportable as additional income to the individual even if the actual payment is made to a charity or other third party.

An individual can decline the honorarium and request (but not demand) that the honorarium be donated by the University to a third party. The individual must indicate in writing in advance of the activity for which the honorarium is being paid that they wish to have the University make the donation. Because the individual declined the honorarium before it was earned, there is no taxable income.

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