Office of Business Operations

Accounts Payable | Gift/Prize Guidelines


Accounts Payable Gift and Prize Guidelines

Gift Receipt Form must be completed and submitted with the receipt to the Office of Business Operations when seeking reimbursement for all gifts or prizes to employees, students and guests. Recipient signatures are required for all gift cards/certificates given and tangible items given over $75.00.  

Allowable Gifts/Prizes

Employees – Tangible items given to employees are allowable on all funds except sponsored program funds and are subject to payroll tax withholdings if the value exceeds $75.00.  Gift certificates and gift cards given as prizes, for any amount, are considered cash equivalents by the IRS and are treated as taxable income.   

Students – Tangible items given to students are allowable on all funds except sponsored program funds.  Please keep in mind if the value of the prize is $75 or more, the value will be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. The value will be included on the student's financial aid package. 

Guests - Gifts should be items of minimal value that bear the University’s logo.  Token non-cash items (e.g. gift baskets) given to guests are allowed with a value of less than $75.  Cash equivalent gifts, gift cards or gift certificates, are not permitted.  Gifts to international visitors, especially those from certain cultures, are often an expected courtesy and are considered an appropriate expenditure, except on sponsored programs funding.  The cost of the gift must be reasonable and not exceed $75, unless pre-approval is given by the Accounts Payable Manager. 


Gift Cards/Gift CertificatesTangible Items (i.e. mugs, shirts, gift baskets)Reporting Requirement

Any amount

Less than $75.00

Accounts Payable will report to Payroll only gift cards/certificates

Any amount

$75.00 or more

Accounts Payable will report to Payroll 


Less than $75.00

Less than $75.00

Accounts Payable will track and report to Financial Aid only gift cards/certificates when cumulative amount is greater than $75.00 in calendar year

$75.00 or more

$75.00 or more

Accounts Payable will report to Financial Aid


Not Allowed

Less than $75.00

Accounts Payable will track and disburse a 1099 if cumulative amount is over $600 in calendar year

Not Allowed

$75.00 or more, unless pre-approval given

Accounts Payable will track and disburse a 1099 if over $600 in calendar year

Gifts/Prizes Not Allowed

Gifts should not be given to employees to reward performance unless they are given under a University-wide sanctioned award program (e.g. years of service recognition)

Gifts should not be purchased with University funds to recognize employee’s or student’s personal events, such as births, weddings, birthdays, funerals, illnesses, retirement, etc. 

Gifts or giving anything of value in lieu of payment for services is not allowed.

Gifts to Research Subjects

Please refer to Office of Research and Sponsored Programs website:

Refer to Iowa Code 68B.22 Gifts accepted or received at the following website:

Undistributed Gift Cards/Certificates

If gift cards have not been issued to recipients when processing payment for gift cards, the recipient list should be forwarded to the Office of Business Operations-Accounts Payable as soon as gift cards are distributed.  Gift certificates and gift cards are considered cash equivalents and cash handling procedures apply.  Any unused gift certificates or gift cards must be secured and must be accompanied by an inventory log until all are dispensed.  See Sample Gift Card/Certificates Inventory Log.

For questions, please contact Business Operations at 319-273-2162 or email