Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- November 9, 2009
Revised            -- October 6, 2023
Last Reviewed  -- October 6, 2023
Related Policies: Non Resident Aliens Payment Policy
Additional References:

Policy Owner:

Contact Person:

Vice President for Finance and Administration, tel. (202) 319-5606

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 of a nominal amount 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 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 a workshop or panel, judge, or similar activities. Honoraria are paid to individuals, not agencies or businesses. Honoraria payments may not be paid to University employees, students, or independent contractors.  

Honoraria Transactions should not be recurring and should be limited to no more than one payment to an individual per year. An Honorarium may not be awarded where a price is negotiated for services with the individual, a fee is charged, or the individual submits an invoice. A contractual arrangement has been established if a price is negotiated for a lecture or speaking service, and the payment must be processed through Cardinal Contracts and the Procurement process.

The types of activities for which Honorarium payments may be offered include the following:

  1. A special lecture (one time), a short series of such lectures or other creative activity.
  2. Participation in a seminar or workshop as a guest, speaker or panelist, provided that the service is on a short-term basis.
  3. Award to an individual for a special achievement or renown for participation in a short-term activity or event that is of an educational, research or public service nature and no specific deliverable or specific result is requested or expected.

However, 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 approved by the appropriate level University staff. Academic Honoraria are to be approved by the Provost, or their delegate, before any notification or communication to the recipient. Non-academic Honoraria are to be approved by the Vice President for Finance and Administration, or their delegate, before any notification or communication to the recipient. Honoraria funded by Grants are to be approved by the principal investigator and Sponsored Accounting. Honoraria exceeding a reasonable amount may need additional approval.

Travel expenses may be reimbursed or paid directly on behalf of the guest, in addition to an Honorarium, provided they are in accordance with the University’s travel policy. An Honorarium may be paid in lieu of travel expenses directly to the individual.

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. Requests for Honoraria payments should be submitted within Cardinal Financials using the Payment Request Form. Please make sure that the new vendor request and payment request 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. In Cardinal Financials, a Payment Request form should be submitted and proof of the activity for which the Honoraria will be paid needs to be attached as support (e.g., a flyer for the event or correspondence with a dean or Provost/VP regarding the event).
    1. Academic sourced Honoraria will route to the appropriate departmental approver and to the Academic Budget Office for approval and processing.
    2. Non-Academic sourced Honoraria will route the appropriate Manager for approval and the Vice President for Finance and Administration delegate for review and processing.
    3. Any Grant sourced Honoraria will route to the PI and Sponsored Accounting for approval and processing.
  3. 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.

A requisition and PO is not required and should not be issued for any Honoraria requests.

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 their 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 their 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.