Honorarium Guidance

Determining If an Honorarium Is Appropriate

Use the following questions as a guide to determine the appropriateness of an honorarium request. If any question is answered “yes”, the payment does not qualify as an honorarium:

  1. Is the payment being made to a business, corporation or partnership?
  2. Was the amount and timing of the payment negotiated between the MFA and the individual?
  3. Is there a contractual agreement?
  4. Are the individual’s services recurring?
  5. Is the individual an employee?
  6. Did the individual set the price?


Following are allowable honoraria payments. All have a short duration period of service:

  • Payment to a guest speaker. A guest speaker is someone who possesses advance knowledge of a particular subject area and speaks about that subject area to a group or organization with which he or she is normally not involved.  
  • Participation as a judge in a writing or photo contest
  • Participation in a panel discussion
  • A special lecture or short series of such lectures
  • Appraisal of a manuscript or an article to be submitted to a professional publication
  • Reviewing research findings prior to the final report being published.

Not Appropriate

An honorarium is not appropriate and must not be used:

  • To pay for services requiring an executed contract and/or a purchase order
  • To replace or circumvent procedures for paying consultants
  • To pay professional motivational speakers who perform such services as a career and charge a fee to participate in the event
  • To pay for a recurring activity or service
  • To pay for the services of a facilitator in a small group workshop. A facilitator’s job is to get others to assume responsibility and take the lead. This person is a guide or a discussion leader who contributes structure to the workshop.
  • To pay for performances including comedic, dramatic, musical or other similar artistic performances
  • To pay for personal services provided in the connection of a bona fide business, trade or profession such as reviewing or editing an article by a publisher
  • To pay an employee for their services
  • To pay expense reimbursements, if applicable, which should be submitted separately on a payment request form
  • As an award to an individual where the primary intent is to confer distinction on, or to symbolize respect, esteem, or admiration for the recipient
  • When the services require access to MFA proprietary information (such services are considered consulting)
  • Solely as a reimbursement in lieu of undocumented expenses
  • To pay a foreign visitor (nonresident alien) not approved to work in the United States. Note: B visa holders may accept an honorarium payment and associated incidental expenses for a usual academic activity or activities (lasting not longer than 9 days at any single institution), if the individual has not accepted such payment or expenses from more than 5 institutions or organizations in the previous 6-month period.

Honorarium Form Instructions

The Honorarium Recipient Form is used to register and pay Honorarium Recipients, and is to be completed prior to the event. For new honorarium recipients, the completed and approved form is sent to MFA Payables using invoice@mfa.gwu.edu.

New domestic honorarium recipients must provide a signed and dated W9 form with the completed and approved Honorarium Recipient Form. Please request that the recipient complete the Electronic 1099 Delivery Consent Form (PDF) and send to MFA_E1099@mfa.gwu.edu.

For international honorarium recipients, a W-8BEN and an Alien Information Request Form are required and should be attached to the Honorarium Recipient Form.

If the honorarium recipient is a current employee of MFA, or has been an employee at any point during the current calendar year, the paying department should process through Payroll.

Travel and other incidental expenses must not be included in honoraria payments. If such expenses will be reimbursed, the requirements and procedures set forth in the Travel, Entertainment and Business Expense Reimbursement Manual must be followed.

Completing the Form

To be completed by the individual:

1. Fill in online and print for signatures or sign electronically.

2. Enter the date in the top left corner. This is the invoice date used for entering the Honoraria.

3. Provide Recipient’s Name: Please use full legal name – No nicknames are permitted.

4. Provide Recipient’s last four numbers of their tax id.

5. Are you a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident?

a. If yes, proceed to Recipient’s Address.

b. If no:

i. Indicate the type of visa on the form. Please note: Certain Visas, such as F-1, G-4, H-1B, and O-1, have extremely restrictive work authorization requirements. Please consult with the International Service Office before engaging the individual for the honorarium services to determine eligibility.

ii. Complete the 2017 version of the W-8BEN and Alien Information Request Form

iii. Submit all three forms, along with a copy of your Passport and Visa to your Department contact. (Passport and visa not required if not entering the U.S.)

6. Provide Recipient’s current address, phone and email.

7. Provide Honorarium Recipient’s signature.

8. Direct deposit is the preferred method of payment. Please complete the area with Bank Name, Routing Number, Account Number and Remittance Email Address. This completed form can be used as the source document for banking when registering with iSupply.

To be completed by the department:

  1. Provide the honorarium amount, and select Natural Account 55121 for honorariums in the U.S. or 55161 for those outside the U.S.
  2. If the Honorarium is being charged to a Foreign Account, enter Region and Activity.
  3. Provide the location and a brief description of the activity or event including the Recipient’s role or provide a copy of the event program.

Form Submission:

Submit completed and approved requests with a current W-9 to MFA Payables using invoice@mfa.gwu.edu.

Payments Made in Accordance with Applicable Tax Regulations and Law

The MFA is obligated to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 1099 all U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens receiving cumulative remuneration greater than the annual threshold amount of $600.

The MFA will report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 1042-S all Non-Resident Aliens receiving cumulative remuneration.

For payments to a foreign recipient, please refer to the “ Tax Issues on Payments to International Individuals & Companies ” procedural document.

Specific provisions in sponsored project agreements may govern honorarium payments and supersede this guidance to the extent that they are more limiting or require additional documentation. Before incurring expenses, review the sponsored project agreement as well as the general sponsored project guidelines available on the OSP website and/or consult the appropriate Sponsored Project Administrator (SPA).