Process Honorarium Payment

Traditional Honorarium

A traditional honorarium is a one-time payment that is a token of appreciation paid to an individual who is not a Mason employee or student for a special and non-recurring activity or event for which no payment is required. Honoraria are typically paid to persons of distinguished scholarly or professional standing with the intent of showing appreciation for participation in University education, research or public service activities. There is no contract, the fee is not set or negotiated by the recipient, and the honorarium may not be paid to a third party.

An honorarium may include consideration for travel expenses that are not reimbursed with a Travel Reimbursement voucher.

Examples include:

  • A guest lecturer distinguished in his/her field
  • A noted scholar participating in a symposium
  • A minister or cleric providing an invocation
  • A distinguished alumnus invited to make brief remarks at the dedication of a new campus building

Operational Honorarium

An operational honorarium payment is a payment that is a token of appreciation paid to an individual who is not a Mason employee for an activity that supports Mason operations for which no payment is required. Honoraria are typically paid to individuals with the intent of showing appreciation for participation in University education, research or public service activities. There is no contract, the fee is not set or negotiated by the recipient, and the honorarium may not be paid to a third party.

Examples include:

    • A volunteer judge for the Patriot Games
    • A volunteer swim official for community swim event
    • A cooperating teach for a College of Education and Human Development program

Pay Honorarium to U.S. Citizens/Permanent Residents

First prepare the following documents:

If the payment is $2,000 or more:

  1. Process the request in eVA and attach the Honorarium Payment Request to the eVA order.
  2. Once the purchase requisition in eVA has been approved and an EP number has been assigned, it is the departments responsibility to forward the invoice to Accounts Payable at acctpay@gmu.edu and reference the EP number.

If the payment is less than $2,000:

  1. Send all required documents to Accounts Payable in Fiscal Services at 4400 University Hall, MS 3C1.
  2. U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents will receive an IRS Form 1099MISC if required.

Pay Honorarium to Foreign Nationals (Non-U.S. Citizens)

Use the Determination of the Tax Status table to determine the documents required from the visitor.

Determine the appropriate tax treatment on honorarium payments for nonimmigrants

Prepare the required payment forms:

If the payment is $2,000 or more:

  1. Process the request in eVA and attach the Honorarium Payment Request to the eVA order.
  2. Send the completed request with all required documents to the International Tax Office at 4400 University Hall, MS 4B2 for review and appropriate tax calculation.
  3. After processing the request, the International Tax Coordinator will forward onto Accounts Payable for payment.

If the payment is less than $2,000:

  1. Send all required documents to the International Tax Office in Fiscal Services at 4400 University Hall, MS 4B2 for review and appropriate tax calculation.
  2. The International Tax Office will forward the documents to Accounts Payable at MS3C1.
  3. NOTE: International Tax Office reserves the right to request additional documents if the information contained in the documents mentioned above does not provide sufficient information to determine Mason’s tax withholding responsibilities.

The International Tax Coordinator will determine the tax status, the amount of tax, and eligibility for tax treaty benefits according to the information provided by the department and honorarium recipient.

After processing the request, the International Tax Coordinator will forward to Accounts Payable for payment. The following documents will be sent:

  • Completed Honorarium Payment Request.
  • Independent Contractor Evaluation Form.
  • Letter of invitation.
  • Copy of W-8BEN, W-9, or 8233(tax treaty benefit form) as appropriate.
  • Certification of Eligibility form (if required).
  • At the end of the calendar year, non-immigrants will receive an IRS Form 1099MISC or an IRS Form 1042S.
  • Thirty percent (30%) tax may be withheld from all payments to non-U.S. citizens unless the individual is eligible to claim a tax treaty exemption.
  • Non-immigrants must report all honorarium payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Determination of the Tax Status

IF MEETING WITH THE INTERNATIONAL TAX COORDINATOR

IF UNABLE TO MEET WITH THE INTERNATIONAL TAX COORDINATOR

Tax Coordinator analyzes visitor’s tax status and prepares the appropriate tax documents. If tax treaty benefits are available, the appropriate tax documents may be processed during the interview which eliminates the 30% tax withholding.



  1. Schedule an appointment for the visitor to meet with the International Tax Coordinator at
    703-993-5223 or inttax@gmu.edu.

  2. Visitor should complete the Online Foreign National Information Form

  3. Visitor should bring to the appointment:


    • Passport page with passport number and expiration date.

    • Copy of visa. Residents of Canada or a visa waiver country do not have a visa page.

    • Copy of stamped page in passport showing the entry date and the immigration status the inspector allowed the visitor to enter.

    • If non Mason J-1: DS2019 and letter from sponsor authorizing the activity.

    • Letter of invitation from Mason department.

Please note that tax treaty benefits cannot usually be granted in this situation because additional tax documents are required.
Obtain the following documents from the visitor:



  1. Foreign National Information Form (paper format)
    Important: Need visa history: entry/exit dates for current and past two years and any activity since 1985 in F, J, Q or M status.

  2. Copies of immigration documents

    • Passport page with passport number and expiration date.

    • Copy of visa. Residents of Canada or a visa waiver country do not have a visa page.

    • Copy of stamped page in passport showing the entry date and the immigration status the inspector allowed the visitor to enter.

    • For non Mason J-1 foreign exchange visitors – a letter from sponsor authorizing the activity.

  3. IRS Tax Documents - Complete and sign the IRS forms W-8BEN and W-9. Complete and sign the IRS forms W-8BEN and/or W-9. The Tax Coordinator will determine the appropriate form needed when processing the payment. (If visitor knows his/her tax status, he/she may provide only the appropriate form).

  4. Certification of Eligibility Form.
    Complete if the visitor is currently in the U.S. on a B1, VWB (visa waiver business), B2 or VWT (visa waiver tourist). Certain rules apply under immigration law known as the “9/5/6 rule”.

Determine the appropriate tax on honorarium payments for nonimmigrants

The tax on honorarium payments for nonimmigrants whose tax status is Nonresident Alien is
30% unless a tax treaty applies.

Since non-employment income is not generally considered to be effectively connected income with a U.S. trade or business, honorarium recipients are unable to file a tax return requesting a refund of the tax.

Therefore, departments may choose to absorb the tax by “grossing up” the payment amount. The formula is (gross amount / .70) For example, the amount to pay the foreign visitor is a $500 honorarium. In order to make sure the individual actually receives $500, the Honorarium Payment Request should be $714.29 ($500/.70). $714.29 less 30% = $500.

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