1015: Tax Treatment and Reporting of Athletic and Other Event Tickets Purchased with University Funds
Under the current Internal Revenue Code, an employee must include in income the value of all property provided to him/her as compensation by his/her employer, as specified in Code Sec. 61 (a) (1), unless an exclusion is allowed under Code Sec. 132. Code Sec. 132 (a) states that “gross income shall not include any fringe benefit which qualifies as a (1) no-additional-cost service, (2) qualified employee discount, (3) working fringe, (4) de minimis fringe.”
The provision of occasional Georgetown University athletic or other Georgetown University event tickets to an employee (to include complementary tickets offered to a department or employee) for personal use will be excluded from the income of the employee. This policy also applies to complementary athletic and other event tickets and athletic or other event tickets which are occasionally used as gifts or prizes in contests. Regular use of athletic and other event tickets by an employee for non-business purposes will result in taxable income to the employee subject to applicable withholdings.
The provision of tickets to non-Georgetown University events is governed by the University Gift Policy located under the Financial Affairs and Procedures site.
The purposes of this policy are:
- to ensure that the tax laws are observed with respect to all arrangements concerning the provision of athletic and other event tickets purchased with University funds.
- to ensure that the Payroll Department is appropriately apprised of any consequential arrangements involving the provision of athletic and other event tickets purchased with University funds.
- to provide guidance to University campuses, schools, departments, and operating units concerning the meaning of applicable statutes and regulations and the nature of the substantiation requirements necessary to support the exclusion from taxable income of the value of athletic and other event tickets purchased with University funds.
This policy does not cover the purchase of business-function tickets, such as the purchase of a table at a charitable fund raiser or the purchase of tickets for the attendance of employees (as part of their business/employment responsibilities) at University functions. However, departments are encouraged to maintain a list of Individuals (to include employees) who attended such functions/events to support the business purpose.
The only area within the University that is authorized to make decisions, representations, or commitments concerning the tax treatment of athletic and other event tickets is the Tax Department. Other University officials should refrain from making promises or representations, either orally or in writing. To the extent that any contract of employment contains promises or representations concerning athletic and/or other event tickets, the University will not be under any obligation to honor such promises or representations unless they are approved in advance by the Tax Department.
Any agreement that contains a provision for free athletic and other event tickets, the purchase of tickets at a discount, or any other purchase of tickets at less than face value must be shown to and discussed with the Tax Department for tax implications prior to the execution of the agreement.
The payment or reimbursement request for tickets to athletic or other events purchased with University funds must be accompanied by a written explanation. The memorandum or letter must explain how the use of the tickets is for business purposes (i.e., entertainment or recruiting) and must be approved by the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Business Officer.
Use the miscellaneous payment form and send to Accounts Payable Department.
If the department keeps track of the use of athletic and other event tickets that are purchased with University funds, then there is no tax exposure to the purchaser or the department.
If the department does not track the use of the athletic and other event tickets that are purchased with University funds, then the value of the ticket(s) will be treated as compensation to the purchaser (Department Head in the case of a departmental purchase) subject to the appropriate withholding taxes.
Internal Revenue Service regulations require that the following elements be substantiated every time a ticket or set of tickets (athletic or other event) is used (University Gift Policy applies to employees when they receive tickets that exceed the $99 threshold for non-University events (i.e. Professional Sporting Events):
- Time and Place of the game or event;
- The number of tickets and the amount of each ticket, or in the case of seasons tickets a pro-rata share of the total season ticket cost per ticket;
- Business Purpose for the entertainment or nature of business benefit derived or expected to be derived as a result of the entertainment and the nature of any business discussion or activity;
- Name and Business Relationship, occupation or other information relating to the person or persons entertained, including name, title or other designation sufficient to establish business relationship to purchaser of tickets.
The substantiation requirements outlined above make it necessary to document the required facts every time a ticket or set of tickets are used. A log for each ticket or group of tickets purchased by a department facilitates the completion of the above information. Use of athletic or other event tickets by employee(s) for non-business related purposes is subject to the same reporting requirements as stated above.
Tickets to non-University events with a face value of $100 or more that are given to employees must be reported on the Gift Receipt Form (FA-162-13A) and be reported to the Payroll office.
The Department Head has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the reporting requirements as outlined in this policy are satisfied and that the same employees do not regularly use departmental tickets for non-business purposes.
Contact the University Tax Department at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this policy or if you would like more information.