1.32.20  Using Appropriated Funds to Purchase Meals and Light Refreshments

Manual Transmittal

July 20, 2015

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 1.32.20, Servicewide Financial Policies and Procedures, Using Appropriated Funds to Purchase Meals and Light Refreshments.

Material Changes

(1) In this revision of IRM 1.32.20, the contents were significantly rearranged and updated to provide information related to using appropriated funds to purchase meals and light refreshments. New sections were added to include appropriate information for this IRM.

(2) IRM 1.32.20.5, title changed from Glossary of Terms to Definitions, added and revised definitions for clarity.

(3) Added IRM 1.35.20.6, Acronyms.

(4) IRM 1.32.20.6, Responsibilities, was moved to 1.32.20.7. Added responsibilities for IRS Deputy Commissioners and Associate Chief Financial Officer for Financial Management. Revised responsibilities to provide additional clarification.

(5) IRM 1.32.20.7, General Authorities and Requirements, was moved to IRM 1.32.20.8. Added description for light refreshments and clarified business unit requirements on purchasing meals or light refreshments.

(6) IRM 1.32.20.9, Determining the Nature of the Event. Previously IRM 1.32.20.14, Determining the Nature of the Event.

(7) IRM 1.32.20.10, Award Ceremony Requirements. Previously IRM 1.32.20.10, Award Ceremonies.

(8) IRM 1.32.20.11, Formal Conferences Requirements. Previously IRM 1.32.20.8, Formal Conference.

(9) IRM 1.32.20.12, Training Events Requirements. Previously IRM 1.32.20.9, Training Events.

(10) IRM 1.32.20.13, Special Emphasis Programs Requirements. Previously IRM 1.32.20.11, Equal Employment Opportunity Special Emphasis Programs.

(11) IRM 1.32.20.14, Approval and Documentation. Previously IRM 1.32.20.15, Documentation and Records Retention. Provides guidance on the use of Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, timeframes and documentation requirements.

(12) IRM 1.32.20.15, Per Diem Adjustment for IRS-Furnished Meals or Light Refreshments. Previously IRM 1.32.20.12, Per Diem Adjustment for IRS-Furnished Food.

(13) IRM 1.32.20.16, Taxability of Meals. Previously IRM 1.32.20.13, Taxability of Meals.

(14) This revision includes changes throughout this document to update information related to using appropriated funds to purchase meals and light refreshments, including revised definitions, forms to request the purchase of meals and light refreshments and other minor editorial changes.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM incorporates Interim Guidance Memorandum CFO-01-0714-04, Interim Guidance on Requests for Approval of Light Refreshments, dated July 25, 2014.

Audience

All Divisions and Functions.

Effective Date

(07-20-2015)


Robin L. Canady
Chief Financial Officer

1.32.20.1  (07-20-2015)
Overview

  1. This IRM provides the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policies and procedures for business units requesting approval to use appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments at events which the IRS sponsors or hosts.

  2. The IRS has a responsibility to act as a careful steward of taxpayer dollars, ensuring that Federal funds are used for purposes that are appropriate, cost effective, and important to the core mission of the IRS. Business units must exercise the same care in purchasing meals or light refreshments that a prudent person would exercise if incurring these expenses on personal business.

  3. This IRM is issued by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Financial Management (FM), Financial Management Policy (FMP) Office.

1.32.20.2  (07-20-2015)
Background

  1. The Comptroller General has identified statutory authorities that permit the use of appropriated funds to pay for meals and light refreshments in limited circumstances at IRS-sponsored events. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) publishes the Principles of Federal Appropriation Law, referred to as the "Red Book" which serves as a detailed fiscal law guide covering those areas of law in which the Comptroller General renders decisions. The Red Book provides detailed guidance regarding the availability and use of Federal funds.

  2. As a general rule, the IRS may not use appropriated funds to furnish meals or light refreshments for Federal employees or private sector individuals. Exceptions to this rule must be specifically authorized under statute and approved by a Deputy Commissioner. The requirements addressing specific circumstances for which Federal agencies may request approval to use appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments for Government-sponsored events are incorporated into this IRM.

1.32.20.3  (07-20-2015)
Authorities

  1. 5 USC 4101-4118 et seq., Government Employees Training Act (GETA)

  2. 5 USC 4501-06, Government Employees Incentive Awards Act (GEIAA)

  3. 26 USC 61, Gross Income Defined

  4. 26 USC 119,Meals and Lodging Furnished for the Convenience of the Employer

  5. IRC 41 CFR 301-304, Federal Travel Regulation (FTR)

  6. GAO, Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, Volume I, (3rd ed) (GAO Report No. GAO-04-261SP), Chapter 4, Section C.5.b, Food for Government Employees

1.32.20.4  (07-20-2015)
Related Resources

  1. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Training and Development Policies

  2. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Management Directive 715, Federal Responsibilities under Section 717 of Title VII and Section 501, Rehabilitation Act

  3. IRM 1.32.10, Approval Process for Event-Related Spending

  4. IRM 1.32.11, Official IRS City-to-City Travel Guide

  5. IRM 1.33.4, Financial Operating Guidelines

  6. IRM 6.410.1, Learning and Education Policy

  7. IRM 6.451.1, Employee Performance and Utilization - Awards and Recognition

1.32.20.5  (07-20-2015)
Definitions

  1. In this IRM, the terms below have the following meanings:

  2. Conference - A pre-arranged formal event with at least some of the following characteristics: designated participants and/or registration, a published substantive agenda, and scheduled speakers or discussion panels on a particular topic, and involves IRS expenses (other than the salaries of attendees), such as expenses for refreshments, meals, mementos, or travel (including transportation, lodging, or other expenses authorized under the FTR). A conference may include, but is not limited to, a retreat, convention, seminar or symposium. A conference typically is not a:

    • Routine operational meeting

    • Law enforcement activity

    • Mission-critical core function activity

    • Bureau's response to an emergency or recovery activity related to a catastrophic event

    • Testing activity (including the planning, scheduling and conducting)

    • Technical assistance/operational review site visit

  3. Event - An all-inclusive term to include a conference, meeting, training occurrence, award ceremony, or other similar gathering that involves expenses of the attendees, such as for travel, meals or refreshments.

  4. Event Coordinator - An individual or office responsible for coordinating an event.

  5. Light Refreshments - Includes, but is not limited to: coffee, tea, milk, juice, soft drinks, ice cream, donuts, bagels, muffins, fruit, vegetable trays, cheese trays, pretzels, cookies and chips.

  6. Meal - A quantity of food that equals a full serving of breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  7. Official Station - The location where the employee regularly performs his or her duties. The geographic limits of the official station are the corporate limits of the city or town where the employee is located, or, if not in an incorporated city or town, the reservation, station or other established area having definite boundaries where the employee is located, not to exceed 50 miles from the employee's location. If the employee’s work involves recurring travel or varies on a recurring basis, the location where the work activities of the employee’s position of record are based is considered the regular place of work.

  8. Special Emphasis Program - A program that promotes equal opportunity in the hiring, advancement, training, and treatment of targeted groups. These programs advocate necessary change to overcome barriers that restrict equal employment opportunity for women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. These programs improve the workplace environment by promoting and fostering diversity in the workplace through awareness and educating IRS employees and others to appreciate, value, understand, and celebrate social and cultural similarities and differences.

  9. Training - A planned, prepared and coordinated program, course, curriculum, subject or program of instruction or education that improves individual and/or organizational performance and helps achieve the IRS mission and performance goals.

1.32.20.6  (07-20-2015)
Acronyms

  1. In this IRM, the acronyms below have the following meaning:

    Acronyms Description
    BFC Beckley Finance Center
    EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    FMP Financial Management Policy
    FTR Federal Travel Regulation
    GAO Government Accountability Office
    GEIAA Government Employees' Incentive Awards Act
    GETA Government Employees Training Act
    M&IE Meals and Incidental Expenses
    OPM Office of Personnel Management
    STETS Servicewide Training & Tracking System

1.32.20.7  (07-20-2015)
Responsibilities

  1. This section provides responsibilities for the following individuals, positions and offices:

    1. IRS Deputy Commissioners.

    2. Chief Counsel.

    3. Chief Financial Officer.

    4. Associate Chief Financial Officer for Financial Management.

    5. Director, Financial Management Policy Office.

    6. Business Units.

1.32.20.7.1  (07-20-2015)
IRS Deputy Commissioners

  1. The IRS Deputy Commissioners are responsible for authorizing and approving all requests for the purchase of meals or light refreshments at any cost.

1.32.20.7.2  (07-20-2015)
Chief Counsel

  1. The Chief Counsel is responsible for:

    1. Reviewing and approving all Chief Counsel requests for the purchase of meals and light refreshments at any cost.

    2. Reviewing and providing written opinions and concurrence on requests for light refreshments when special circumstances exist.

1.32.20.7.3  (07-20-2015)
Chief Financial Officer

  1. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is responsible for overseeing the policy on using appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments.

1.32.20.7.4  (07-20-2015)
Associate Chief Financial Officer for Financial Management

  1. The Associate CFO for Financial Management (ACFO-FM) is responsible for:

    1. Establishing and ensuring compliance with policies, procedures, standards, and controls for using appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments.

    2. Reviewing and submitting meals and light refreshments requests to the appropriate Deputy Commissioner for approval.

1.32.20.7.5  (07-20-2015)
Director, Financial Management Policy Office

  1. The Director, Financial Management Policy (FMP) Office is responsible for:

    1. Establishing process and procedure guidelines for business units to request approval to purchase meals or light refreshments.

    2. Reviewing business unit requests for the purchase of meals or light refreshments and forwarding Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, to the ACFO-FM for review and submission to the appropriate Deputy Commissioner.

    3. Notifying the business unit of the decision from the Deputy Commissioner to approve or disapprove a request to purchase meals or light refreshments.

    4. Maintain a log that includes all requests for the use of appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments and the disposition of each request.

1.32.20.7.6  (07-20-2015)
Business Units

  1. The business units are responsible for:

    1. Requesting approval to purchase meals or light refreshments by completing Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, reflecting concurrence by the business unit Division Commissioner/Chief/Head of Office or his/her Deputy;

    2. Forwarding the completed Form 14676,Meals and Light Refreshments Request , with appropriate attachments/documentation, no later than 30 days before the event start date to the Financial Management Policy Office at CFO.Event.Request@irs.gov, and

    3. Ensuring the approvals for the purchase of meals or light refreshments are properly documented and the documentation is maintained for a period of six years and three months for inspection by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or other interested parties.

1.32.20.8  (07-20-2015)
General Authorities and Requirements

  1. The Comptroller General has identified statutory authorities that permit the use of appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at IRS-sponsored events, in the following circumstances:

    1. Formal conferences - that meet the requirements detailed in IRM 1.32.20.11, Formal Conference Requirements, and 5 USC § 4110, Expenses of Attendance at Meetings.

    2. Training - that meets the requirements detailed in the OPM Training Policy Handbook, and 5 USC § 4101 et seq, Government Employees Training Act (GETA). Serving meals and light refreshments must benefit the participant, provided that training is scheduled for more than half of the day and information is exchanged between presenters and the audience. See IRM 1.32.20.12, Training Event Requirements, for additional information.

    3. Award ceremonies - that meet the requirements detailed in IRM 6.451.1, Employee Performance and Utilization - Awards and Recognition, and 5 USC § 4501-06, Government Employees Incentive Awards Act. Agencies may provide meals and light refreshments at an award ceremony when employees are publically recognized for special acts and achievements. See IRM 1.32.20.10, Award Ceremony Requirements, for more information.

    4. Special Emphasis Program Requirements - that meet the requirements detailed in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Management Directive 715. The meals or light refreshments are only authorized when they are a cultural sampling of meals and are an integral part of the formal program. See IRM 1.32.20.13, Special Emphasis Programs, for additional information.

  2. Light refreshments include, but are not limited to, coffee, tea, milk, juice, soft drinks, ice cream, donuts, bagels, muffins, fruit, veggie trays, cheese trays, pretzels, cookies, and chips. Light refreshments must be provided in quantities that are not considered to be a meal.

  3. Business units should exercise prudence when purchasing meals or light refreshments. The amount spent on meals or light refreshments must be reasonable in relation to the nature, size, and overall cost of the event. If employees are in travel status, they do not need to reduce their meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) allowance for any light refreshments provided.

  4. When holding an event in a hotel or similar facility, a business unit cannot contract to pay for meals or light refreshments and allow the facility to provide the conference rooms or support at no cost to the Government. In other words, the facility is not allowed to compensate (or ″comp″) a conference room in exchange for the IRS purchase of meals or light refreshments.

  5. The IRS cannot use appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at preliminary or evening social gatherings or during breaks to merely facilitate social interaction or to improve the attendance of participants.

  6. The IRS is generally prohibited from using appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at day-to-day internal business meetings.

    1. Day-to-day business meetings involve discussions of IRS internal procedures or operations. Attendance at routine IRS-sponsored meetings is generally subject to the prohibition on furnishing meals to employees at their official duty stations.

    2. The presence of a mealtime speaker between meeting segments to discuss business, management, and day-to-day operations does not provide an adequate basis.

1.32.20.9  (07-20-2015)
Determining the Nature of the Event

  1. The business unit hosting the event should first determine if the event meets the basic criteria for training, awards, or special emphasis programs as explained in this IRM. If not, the business unit should determine if it fits the criteria for a formal meeting or conference.

  2. To determine if meals or light refreshments are authorized, the business units may wish to consult with General Legal Services, the Human Capital Office or with the CFO FMP office, for advice on the nature of an event.

  3. Event coordinators/hosts are responsible for obtaining the appropriate approval and ensuring the event is properly documented (i.e., invitation letters, registration forms, sign-in agendas) and must have these records available for inspection by TIGTA or other interested parties for a period of six years and three months.

1.32.20.10  (07-20-2015)
Award Ceremony Requirements

  1. Generally, only items classified as light refreshments and meals are appropriate at an award ceremony. The light refreshments must enhance the recognition of the award recipients as determined by the appropriate IRS official. Business units must exercise prudence when using appropriated funds to purchase light refreshments for awards ceremonies.

  2. The Government Employees’ Incentive Awards Act (GEIAA) permits agencies to incur necessary expenses for the honorary recognition of Federal employees under established awards programs.

  3. The GAO Comptroller General decisions have emphasized that the purposes of award ceremonies are to foster public recognition of employees’ meritorious performance and allow other employees to honor and congratulate their colleagues. In accordance with GEIAA, the event must meet all of the following criteria to be considered an award ceremony.

    1. The awards being presented must meet the criteria for the recognition of employees under the GEIAA.

    2. The awards must recognize special acts or achievements.

    3. Award recipients must be publicly recognized.

  4. The GAO Comptroller General decisions do not authorize providing meals to recognize employees for their achievements in connection with an event or function that is primarily designed to achieve other agency objectives.

1.32.20.11  (07-20-2015)
Formal Conference Requirements

  1. The IRS may be able to use appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at conferences, provided that the event meets the following requirements and conditions:

  2. The event:

    • Must include registration, published substantive agendas, and scheduled speakers.

    • Must involve topical matters of interest to and participation of multiple agencies and/or nongovernmental participants.

    • Cannot be a routine event that covers day-to-day operations of the IRS.

  3. In addition:

    • The meal must be incidental to the event.

    • The meal must be part of the formal event that includes, not just the discussions that occur during the food service, but also formal presentations and functions separate from when the meal is served.

    • Attendance during the meal service is required to ensure the audience’s full participation.

  4. The quantity of the meals or light refreshments provided must be commensurate with the scale of the conference. Business units must exercise prudence when using appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments for formal conferences. Generally, the cost per person may not exceed 25 percent of the per diem rate for applicable meals based on the geographic location of the conference.

    Example: There are 100 attendees scheduled to attend a conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. The meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) rate for this location is $61 per day. The maximum amount paid for a meal should not exceed $1,525 per day ($61 times .25 equals $15.25; times 100 equals $1,525).

1.32.20.12  (07-20-2015)
Training Event Requirements

  1. The IRS may be able to use appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at training events. The Government Employees Training Act authorizes an agency to pay all or part of the necessary expenses of training. In accordance with 5 USC § 4101, the event must meet all of the following criteria:

    • The announced purpose of the training must be educational or instructional.

    • More than half of the time must be scheduled for an organized exchange of information between presenters and audience.

    • The content of the event must be relevant to improving individual/organizational performance.

    • Developmental benefits must be derived by attendance.

  2. A determination must be made whether the provision of meals and light refreshments during a training session will be advantageous to the participants in receiving the intended objectives of the course.

1.32.20.13  (07-20-2015)
Special Emphasis Program Requirements

  1. The IRS may be able to use appropriated funds to pay for meals or light refreshments at Special Emphasis Programs. The GAO Comptroller General decisions provide limited authority to agencies to use appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments for Special Emphasis Programs.

    The event must be:

    • Part of a formal program to advance Equal Employment Opportunity objectives.

    • Intended to make the audience aware of the cultural or ethnic history being celebrated.

    • Part of a larger program to serve an educational function.

  2. These programs improve the workplace environment by promoting and fostering diversity in the workplace through awareness and by educating IRS employees and others to appreciate, value, understand, and celebrate social and cultural similarities and differences.

  3. In addition, the meals or light refreshments must consist of small samples of ethnic foods prepared and served during the event.

1.32.20.14  (07-20-2015)
Approval and Documentation

  1. Requests for the use of appropriated funds to purchase meals or light refreshments must be approved by a Deputy Commissioner in advance of the event. The Chief Counsel must approve any Chief Counsel light refreshment requests.

  2. To facilitate the request/approval process:

    • Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, must be completed by the business units to request approval by or from the applicable Deputy Commissioner.

    • Frequently Asked Questions have been developed and posted to the CFO website to assist business units with requesting approval to purchase meals or light refreshments.

  3. Business units requesting approval to purchase meals or light refreshments should complete Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, no later than 30 days before the event start date to allow enough time for approval by the appropriate Deputy Commissioner.

  4. After the business unit Division Commissioner/Chief/Head of Office or his/her Deputy has signed Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request,, the request form should be forwarded to CFO.Event.Request@irs.gov. The Financial Management Policy Office will review the request and coordinate obtaining the signature of the appropriate Deputy Commissioner.

  5. Business units also are responsible for obtaining the appropriate written approvals to host an event as published in IRM 1.32.10, Approval Process for Event-Related Spending.

  6. If a business unit is hosting an event for which they need to complete a request for event spending approval (Form 14672, Request for Event Spending Approval - Services and Enforcement; Form 14672-A, Request for Event Spending Approval - Operations Support; or Form 14672-B Request for Event Spending Approval - Direct Reports) and Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, both forms should be submitted together toCFO.Event.Request@irs.gov.

  7. Business units coordinating/hosting a training event should follow the procedures for the approval of training established by the Servicewide Training & Event Tracking System (STETS). In addition, business units requesting the approval to purchase meals or light refreshments should complete Form 14676, Meals and Light Refreshments Request, and submit the form to CFO.Event.Request@irs.gov.

  8. Some hotel contracts include refreshments and/or lodging and require the acceptance of contractual terms and conditions that are subject to IRS procurement processes and procedures. For additional information about IRS policies on obtaining off-site facilities, reference Procurement Policy and Procedures Memorandum 70.24, Acquiring Training, Meeting, and Conference Services and Facilities/Spaces for Training, Meetings, or Conferences at: http://awss.web.irs.gov/Procurement/policy/pandp/pp70-24.pdf

  9. Business units should ensure that the event is properly documented for i.e., invitation letters, registration forms, sign-in agendas, letter or reference memo documenting how much was spent for the event) to include the actual costs incurred for any light refreshments or meals served. These records must be available for inspection by TIGTA or other interested parties for a period of six years and three months.

1.32.20.15  (07-20-2015)
Per Diem Adjustment for IRS-Furnished Meals or Light Refreshments

  1. In accordance with the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), when the IRS furnishes meals or light refreshments, an attendee in travel status must make the following adjustments for claimed meals and incidental expenses (M&IE):

    1. If the IRS furnishes meals, the attendee must deduct the appropriate amount from the claimed M&IE.

    2. If the IRS furnishes light refreshments, the attendee does not need to adjust or reduce the M&IE amount.

  2. FTR 41 CFR 301–11.17 through 11.19, provides additional information on this requirement, including exceptions.

1.32.20.16  (07-20-2015)
Taxability of Meals

  1. Meals furnished by the IRS may be taxable to the employee when a trip is less than 24 hours without overnight lodging. Business units need to consider the potential tax implications of providing meals to employees at their official stations prior to providing such meals.

  2. See IRS Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, for guidance on the tax treatment of employer-provided meals and on the circumstances in which meals may be excluded from income.

  3. The business unit event coordinator is responsible for reporting taxable meals furnished to IRS employees to the Beckley Finance Center (BFC). The event coordinator can contact the BFC at *CFO.BFC.Debt.Collection.Helpdesk@irs.gov.


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