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Honoraria Payments

Guide For Honoraria Payments

A gratuitous payment of money or other thing of value to a person for the person’s participation in a usual academic activity for which no fee is legally required. An honorarium is provided as a token of appreciation for participation in an activity or event, and not as a contractual obligation to pay for services rendered. An honorarium is usually a one-time payment made to an individual (not a corporation, business or partnership) who is not an employee of the University, for a special and non-recurring activity or event.

"Usual Academic Activity" means activity conducted for the benefit of the honorarium-paying institution and includes lecturing, teaching, consulting, conducting research, attending meetings, symposia or seminars, or otherwise sharing knowledge. Readings and performances are included academic activities, so long as the activity is open without charge to the public and/or students.

Please Note: Under IRS regulations, honoraria payments are considered taxable income. Therefore, as a matter of policy, the recipient of an honorarium payment may not transfer the payment to another organization or individual. If the honorarium recipient wishes to transfer the payment to another organization or individual, he or she must receive the money and then donate it.

Determination of Honorarium Payments

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

If you have answered "yes" to any of the above questions the payment does not qualify as an honorarium.

IRS rules for Honoraria Payments rules are:

  • The activity lasts no more than 9 days. An individual may be at the institution longer than 9 days, however the number-of-days limitation applies only to "the event", and
  • The services conducted are of direct benefit to the University, and
  • The visitor has not accepted payments from more than 5 institutions in the previous 6 months.

Documentation Requirement

U.S. Citizens or U.S. Resident Aliens

  • Form W9
  • PDA-NA (Non-Affiliate)
  • Flyer or Memo documenting person’s participation, date and location of activity or event

Foreign National

A Guest speaker that holds a J, B, or Waiver Status is permitted to be paid honoraria. The documents required for payment are as follows:

  • Form W-8BEN
  • PDA-F (Foreign Non-Affiliate)
  • Foreign National Information Form (FNIF)
  • Foreign Visitors Honoraria Eligibility Certification Form
  • Photocopy of main page of passport
  • Photocopy of I-94 Document or Stamp of Entry
  • Flyer or Memo documenting person’s participation, date and location of activity or event

Additional Documentation for J1 Visa Holders

  • Photocopy of visa
  • Photocopy of DS-2019 form
  • If your guest speaker's J1 visa was issued by a U.S. institution other than Penn, a letter from the issuing institution recommending such activity and explaining how the activity would enhance the exchange visitor's program. This letter is to be written prior to the engagement.


Visitors on TN, H-1B or O visas not sponsored by Penn may NOT receive honoraria or service payments (including employee compensation). In these cases, it may be necessary to arrange to pay your guest speaker's home institution so that they can in turn pay your guest speaker. Penn’s Tax and International Operations reviews travel reimbursement requests for holders of these types of visas on a case by case basis.

Taxability of Honoraria Payments:

U.S. income tax will not be withheld from US citizens and/or permanent residents. However, at the applicable tax rate, taxes may be withheld from payments to Non-Resident Aliens from non-tax treaties countries and also tax exempted countries unless a properly completed IRS Form 8233 (Exemption From Withholding on Compensation for Independent Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual) and the applicable statement under IRS Revenue Procedure 87-9 is submitted, along with the payment request.

NOTE: Tax treaty benefits are not automatic. Determination of eligible treaty benefits are processed by Tax and International Operations. Nonresident aliens who may be eligible to receive a tax treaty exemption will be provided with IRS Form 8233 and applicable statement by the Tax Department. The Foreign National must submit a signed Form 8233 to the department initiating the request for payment in order to ensure that U.S. income tax will not be withheld from the payment.

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


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