Business Expense Reimbursements

San Francisco State University Practice Directive-

Title: Business Expense Reimbursements
Reference number: 402.03.01
Division: Fiscal Affairs
Department: Accounts Payable
Contact information: David Chelliah,, (415) 338-2367
Effective date: February 1, 2017
Revised date: November 1, 2018


100 Authority

Integrated California State University Administrative Manual (ICSUAM) §5205, Low Value Purchases

200 Objective

The objective of this practice directive is to comply with ICSUAM §5205.00 and to ensure financial accountability and responsibility for business expense reimbursement payments issued by San Francisco State University (the University).

300 Practice Directive Statement

For low-value purchases, using procurement cards (P-cards), subject to ICSUAM §5250.00, is strongly encouraged to minimize the administrative costs for processing and paying business expense reimbursements. However, it is expected that occasionally faculty, staff, and students may initially purchase products (i.e. not services) using their personal resources and be reimbursed by the University.

Faculty, staff and students may seek reimbursement from the University by submitting a completed Business Expense Reimbursement Request form with the required approvals and supporting documents.

400 Scope

This practice directive applies to expense reimbursements within the University and does not apply to related practices in the auxiliary organizations (UCorp, the Foundation, and Associated Students). This practice directive does not apply to travel expense reimbursements.

500 Definitions

501 Low value purchase

A purchase up to $1,000 from any one single supplier (vendor); business expense reimbursements are not allowed for purchase greater than $1,000.

502 Fiscal authority

Authority delegated to an employee to initiate and authorize fiscal transactions on behalf of the University. See Delegation of Fiscal Authority practice directive.

600 Practice Directive

601 General requirements

Reimbursements must be requested on the correct form, the Business Expense Reimbursement Request form. For reimbursements for hospitality expenses, a completed and signed hospitality form must be attached to the Business Expense Reimbursement Request form.

602 Supporting documentation

All reimbursements must be supported by appropriate documentation including the following:

  • Original receipt from the merchant indicating what was purchased, the cost, and proof of payment. A credit card receipt with no descriptive information of the items purchased and their costs is not sufficient. See Appendix A for a description and illustration of good receipts.
  • For payments by check, a copy of the front and back of the cancelled check

603 Lost receipts

If a required receipt has been lost, a missing receipt affidavit must be submitted with the reimbursement form. Frequent and repeated lost receipts will disqualify an individual from seeking reimbursements.

604 Cash payments

Cash payments are generally discouraged and are only allowed for purchases up to $200 (inclusive of tax, shipping, and handling).

605 Services – not allowed for reimbursement

Faculty, staff and employees may not pay for and seek reimbursement for services from another individual or organization. These expenses must be routed and paid directly by the University to the supplier (vendor) via a purchase order or a direct payment request (e.g. transcription services, medical payments, photographers, musicians, guest speakers).

606 Prohibited Transactions

Under no circumstances may an individual authorize reimbursement, or payment of any type, to a family member or to someone to whom the individual reports.

700 Deadline to Submit Reimbursement Requests

All reimbursement requests must be made within 90 days of incurring the expense being reimbursed. Reimbursement requests submitted after the 90-day deadline must be approved by a Vice President. Any late reimbursement request received without the Vice President or Provost’s approval will be rejected.

Frequent and repeated late reimbursement requests will disqualify an individual from seeking reimbursements.

800 Procedures

801 Preparing the reimbursement request

801.1 Complete the Business Expense Reimbursement form. The business purpose for the expense must be stated on the form.

801.2 Obtain required approvals. An employee with delegated fiscal authority must approve the expense; however, employees cannot approve their own expenses or reimbursement requests for employees to whom they report; reimbursements for grants and contracts must be approved by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

801.3 Attach supporting documentation. See §602 above and ensure original receipts with required components and a completed Hospitality form is attached, if appropriate.

801.4 For reimbursement request to Accounts Payable – ADM 358.

802 Responsible parties

802.1 Reimbursement requestor

  • Maintain original receipts; ensure receipt indicates what was purchased, how much it costs, and proof of payment;
  • Complete and sign the business expense reimbursement request form;
  • Attach required supporting documentation;
  • Obtain required approvals for request (and Hospitality form, if applicable); and
  • Ensure request form and supporting documents are forwarded to Accounts Payable.

802.2 Approver

  • Ensure reimbursement request form is complete – including required signatures and valid business purpose;
  • Ensure supporting documentation is complete and attached;
  • Verify that sufficient funds exist to cover the reimbursement; that the expense is appropriate for the funding source; and
  • Sign request form and forward request to Accounts Payable.

802.3 Accounts Payable

  • Review reimbursement request to ensure form is complete and supporting documentation is adequate;
  • Resolve any issues with the reimbursement request in a timely manner;
  • For trust funds, forward request to Trust Fund Accounting for review;
  • Process reimbursement for payment; and
  • Monitor reimbursements to identify violations of the practice directive that may disqualify individuals from seeking reimbursements.

802.4 Disbursements

Reimbursements are disbursed by direct deposit, a mailed check, or a check pickup. Disbursements follow established protocols and reviews.

803 Exceptions

Exceptions to this practice directive must be approved by a Vice President (or the President when the reimbursement is for a Vice President). Exceptions to §606 Prohibited Transactions must be approved by the Chief Financial Officer.

900 Record Retention

Manual and electronic records related to business expense reimbursement must comply with the CSU’s record retention policies (4 years after end of fiscal year when transaction occurred) unless the University Controller determines records should be retained longer.

Related Documents

ICSUAM 5205-00 - Low Value Purchases, Business Expense Reimbursement Request form

Searchable Words

Reimbursement request, low value purchase, fiscal authority



An itemized receipt has ALL of the following pieces of information on it:

1) Business Name

2) Date

3) Item(s) Purchased

4) Price of Each Item

5) Total Amount of Bill

6) Method of Payment

Notes about needing more than one piece of information to make up an itemized receipt:

  • Often you will need two (2) receipts to show all of the necessary information. One receipt will show what was purchased, and the second receipt will show how you paid. Without both of these, you’re reimbursement request will be returned.
  • Sometimes you are only given a receipt that shows the items purchased. This would most likely show the business name, date, item(s) purchased, price of each item, and the total amount of the bill. If you paid via credit card, a print out of your bank statement that matches the amount on the invoice will serve to show this necessary piece of information. Other times, you will be given a small receipt directly from the business showing that your credit card was charged. You should include both items in order to be reimbursed.

Itemized Receipt                          Credit Card Receipt



Q1. What is a low value purchase?

A purchase up to $1,000 from any single supplier (vendor).

Q2. Can I purchase an item over $1,000 and seek for reimbursement?

No. Any items over $1,000 must go through Procurement.

Q3. If I used a gift card towards a purchase, can I seek reimbursement for purchases paid with a gift card?

No. Payment with a gift card is not eligible for reimbursement

Q4. What is considered as an allowable expenditure for a business expense reimbursement?

Allowable expenditures for reimbursements must be associated with official University business only, this may include, but is not limited to

  • Memberships
  • Books
  • Subscriptions (Software Subscriptions may require a TAR; see Question 5)
  • Registration Fees (Must provide Authorization to Travel Request Form and signed by appropriate Approver)
  • Office Supplies
  • Course Materials
  • Licensing Fees
  • Examinations

Q5. If I am seeking reimbursement for business related technologies, am I required to complete a Technology Acquisition Review (TAR)?

Any preapproved technology listed by ITS does not require a TAR. TAR webpage

If you are unsure if the technology you are acquiring requires a TAR, please submit a TAR to ITS.

Any technology that is not preapproved requires a TAR by submitting a ticket to ITS. Please attach supporting documentation from ITS showing the ticket status as “Resolved.”

Example: A Smart TV with internet capabilities requires a TAR for ATI and ITS

Any reimbursement request for technology that is not preapproved or is missing a TAR will be returned.

Q6. If I have to make a purchase under $100, should I use the business expense reimbursement form?

No. It is recommended to use Petty Cash for purchases under $100.

Q7. If I received an invoice from a vendor or supplier, can I pay for the invoice and seek reimbursement afterwards.

No. Invoices must be paid by the University directly via Direct Payment Request or Purchase Order.


Please see the Direct Pay Practice Directive for more information.


Q8. If I am providing hospitality (food, beverages, gifts, etc.) to employees, student, donors, guests, visitors, volunteers and etc. as a part of a business meeting, can I use the business expense reimbursement form?

No. Any hospitality must be on the Hospitality Payment/Reimbursement Request form.

Please see the Hospitality Policy for more information.

Q9. If I am an employee and purchasing office supplies or business related items from an online vendor, do I need to ship the items to an on-campus address?

Yes. All items must be shipped/delivered to a University campus business location. There are exceptions to this general rule:

  • Full written justification on why it was shipped to an off-campus location signed by approver; or
  • Exception form approved by the appropriate Vice President (Exception form); or
  • Current students of the University





San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue           

San Francisco, CA 94132

Q10. If I am making a payment to a supplier (vendor)/3rd party for any services, can I complete the business expense reimbursement form?

No. Due to tax regulations and reporting, individuals may not pay for and in turn seek reimbursement for services from another party. Those expenditures must be routed and paid directly by the University to the supplier (vendor) via a purchase order or a direct payment request.

Please see the Direct Pay Practice Directive for more information.

Examples of services that are prohibited, but are not limited to this list:

  • Transcription
  • Editing
  • Medical Payments
  • Photographers
  • Musicians
  • Guest Speakers
  • Rentals/Leases

Q11. If I am seeking a business expense reimbursement, do I need to provide itemized receipts or proof of payment?

Yes, receipst from the merchant indicating what was purchased, the cost, and proof of payment. A credit card receipt with no descriptive information of the items purchased and their costs is not sufficient.

Please tape all small receipts to an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper to ensure that they are not lost in transit.

Acceptable forms of proof of payments

  • Debit/Credit Card
  • Credit Card/Bank Statements
  • Last four digits of credit card used on receipt
  • Checks
  • Front and Back of a Cancelled Check
  • Cash ($200 Max)  - must include receipt

Exception: If a receipt has been lost, a missing receipt affidavit must be submitted. Accounts Payable or Internal Audit may request additional information.

Q12. Is there a timeframe for a reimbursement to be submitted to Accounts Payable?

Yes, all reimbursements must be submitted within 90 days after incurring the expense.

Any reimbursement requests without the exception of a Vice President will be returned. An Exception form signed by the Vice President must be attached to the reimbursement claim.

Q13. What is the maximum amount that can be reimbursed using the business expense reimbursement form?

A maximum of $1,000 per receipt can be reimbursed.

Q14. If I paid cash for a purchase, what is the maximum amount I can seek reimbursement using cash?

Although this method of payment is discouraged, cash is only acceptable for small dollar purchases of $200 or less. It is recommended to use Petty Cash for purchases under $100.

Q15. If I was not able to pay an invoice with my P-Card, can I pay and seek reimbursement later?

No. Invoices must be paid for by the University by Accounts Payable.

Q16. Where do I drop off my completed business expense reimbursement request?

All Business Expense Reimbursement forms must be submitted to Fiscal Affairs – ADM 358.