11. Entertaining

See also:

11.2 Refreshments, meetings and business entertainment

(a) Provision of refreshments during a meeting

Light refreshments (tea, coffee, biscuits, etc. but not sandwiches) provided by a department before, during or immediately after a business meeting will not be taxable as long as the meeting takes place on University premises.

(b) Sandwiches and working meals on University premises

Sandwiches, lunches or other types of working meal will be treated as allowable business expenditure if the following conditions are met:

Conditions for working meals on University premises:

  • The meal takes place on University premises; and
  • The meal is an integral part of the meeting; and
  • Alcohol is not consumed; and
  • A copy of any agenda, notes or action points is retained by the department and can be produced as proof of the business of the meeting if required.

Practically, the requirement that the meal is an integral part of the meeting means that the meeting takes place over a normal meal time and that the business of the meeting continues either whilst the food is consumed or immediately afterwards. Where the meeting has in fact concluded and the food is consumed immediately afterwards this is not an allowable business meal and would need to be treated as taxable entertaining.

(c) ‘Business lunches’ and working meals elsewhere

Where working meals are taken elsewhere other than on University premises, they will be treated as allowable business expenditure if the following conditions are met.

Conditions for working meals other than on University premises:

  • Third party speakers, lecturers, business associates, clients or potential funders are present; and
  • The meal is an integral part of the meeting; and
  • A copy of any agenda, notes or action points is retained by the department and can be produced as proof of the business of the meeting if required.

Meals that take place off-site and only include University staff do not satisfy the requirements for allowable business entertaining. Such meals must be treated as taxable entertaining.

The requirement that the meal is an integral part of the meeting means that the meeting takes place over or close to a normal meal time and that there is a genuine need to host the meeting off-site. This could include the time of day if outside normal working hours, or the need to use facilities not available on University premises.

For clarity, the following examples are accepted as allowable business entertaining where all of the above conditions are met.

Examples of allowable working meals both on and off University premises:

  • Examiners lunches or meals;
  • Meals for visiting speakers or lecturers provided immediately before or after the event at which they are speaking;
  • Meals involving external collaborators on research or business projects;
  • Meals involving potential or actual sponsors or donors;
  • Meals involving officials of government or other publicly-funded organizations.

(d) Tips

Service charges or tips will only be paid for or reimbursed where they relate to an allowable business meal and are at a reasonable level. For clarity, the University considers that a reasonable level for tips is one that does not exceed 15% (rounded up to the nearest pound).

Any claims that include tips over this threshold must also include an explanation why an exceptional payment was necessary.

Authorized signatories within departments must be satisfied with this explanation before approving the claim – if a regular pattern of exceptional payments emerges, however, then payment may be declined.

(e) University-specific events

The following University-specific events are considered to be non-taxable when taking place either on University premises, or elsewhere:

Examples of University specific events:

  • New student dinners or welcoming parties;
  • Drinks or light refreshments provided at the start of a new course or in association with lectures or seminars;
  • Post-graduate entertaining.

In all of the above cases the majority of attendees must not be University staff.