Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- November 9, 2009
Revised            -- May 19, 2022
Last Reviewed  -- May 19, 2022
Related Policies: Non Resident Aliens Payment Policy
Additional References: Direct Payment Request

Policy Owner:

Contact Person:

Vice President for Finance and Treasurer

Assistant Controller, Financial Operations tel. (202) 319-5546

I. Policy Statement

This policy is applicable to all honoraria payments to individuals from University funds. It sets forth University requirements for awarding and processing honoraria to ensure proper compliance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS), immigration, and other federal regulations.

II. Definitions

 A. Honoraria are payments made as a gesture of goodwill or appreciation for services for which custom forbids a price to be set or where no expectation exists for payment for services. An honorarium is generally a one-time payment made to a non-University employee for a unique service, distinguished achievement, or academic or ceremonial activities such as guest lecture, guest speaker, artistic performance, participation in workshop or panel, judge, or similar activities. Honoraria payments may not be paid to University employees or independent contractors of the University.  

Honoraria should not be recurring and should be limited to no more than two payments to an individual per year. For any services where a price is negotiated with the individual, a fee is charged, or the individual submits an invoice, a contractual arrangement has been established, and an honorarium may not be awarded. For example, teaching a course or seminar for an entire semester or term represents continuous service rather than a one-time activity. In such a case, the individual would be considered an employee with a regular job title (such as Lecturer) and would need to go through the normal University hiring processes in advance of the services provided.

III. Honoraria to Non-University Personnel

Honoraria payments must be authorized and approved by the Provost or his delegate before any notification or communication to the recipient. Non-academic honoraria should be approved by the cognizant VP. Honoraria should not exceed $1,500 to an individual. Honoraria exceeding $1,500 require a formal invitation and/or acceptance letter processed through Cardinal Contracts.

An honorarium should only be paid from sponsored research grant funds if it is specifically allowed under the grant agreement or award terms.

A. Processing

Payment of honoraria is a collaborative process across different administrative units. Please make sure that the new vendor request and direct payment forms are sent well in advance of anticipated payment to facilitate prompt payment.

  1. An email with the vendor name and email address should be sent to Supplier Relations to register for domestic vendors. Foreign vendors will need to complete physical documents.

  2. Honorariums amounting to $1,500.00 and below do not need an approved service contract through Cardinal Contracts. A Direct Payment Request form and proof of the activity for which the honoraria will be paid (e.g., a flyer for the event or correspondence with a dean or Provost/VP regarding the event) can be sent to the Academic Budget Office for approval and processing. The Academic Budget office will submit the payment requests to Accounts Payable. Please note that any requests for Honoraria not sent by the Academic Budget Office will not be processed.

  3. Honorariums above $1,500.00 will need a service contract requested in Cardinal Contracts. Once an agreement has been executed, the contract can be submitted to the Academic Budget Office for processing. The Academic Budget office will submit the payment requests to Accounts Payable.

  4. An honorarium should not be paid to a relative of a staff or faculty member without a conflict of interest review by the Director of Compliance, Ethics, and Privacy.

IV. Honoraria to Non-US Individuals

Honoraria to non-US individuals are subject to the same guidelines for Non-University personnel. Additionally, tax and immigration rules impose restrictions on paying honoraria to those persons on non-immigrant visas. Specifically, only those non-immigrants in the following categories may be paid honoraria:

  • Anyone who holds a work permit that allows employment for any employer (such as a work authorization document).

  • A J-1 Professor/Researcher with permission of his/her J-1 sponsor.

  • Anyone in visitor's status (B-1, B-2, WB, WT) who engages in academic activity lasting nine days or less and has not received honoraria from more than five academic institutions in the last six months.

  • If the scholar is here on an employment visa (such as A-, G-4, H-1B, TN, O-1, R-1, etc.) and The Catholic University of America is not the sponsor, the University can only issue a check for payment of the honorarium payable to the individual's sponsoring institution, provided that the institution that sponsored his/her status authorizes the activity at the University.

All other visa types must be authorized by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in addition to the Provost before offering honoraria and/or travel expenses, as there are visa types that the University cannot legally pay.

Payments to non-U.S. persons are subject to the Non-Resident Aliens Payment Policy.

Non-resident aliens who do not have a social security number (SSN) must obtain a federal individual tax identification number (ITIN) from the IRS to receive an honorarium. Getting an ITIN can take up to several months. Accordingly, the department proposing to make the honorarium payment must allow adequate processing time before the desired payment date.

ISSS, the Payroll Office, and the Accounts Payable Office cannot offer tax advice or complete individual tax forms.

V. Taxability

An honorarium, whether in the form of cash or a tangible asset, is considered taxable compensation. If the value of the honorarium exceeds the IRS's reporting threshold, the recipient will receive an IRS Form 1099 from the University at the beginning of the following calendar year.

Regarding persons on non-immigrant visas, it will be necessary to withhold taxes when paying the honorarium unless there is a tax treaty with the non-immigrant's country, reported on Form 1042-S. As such, non-resident aliens who do not have a social security number (SSN) must obtain a federal individual tax identification number (ITIN) from the IRS to receive an honorarium.