Request Petty Cash

Petty cash funds are established to provide units with a ready small amount of cash for payment of various expenditures such as research subject fees or utilized as a change fund for cash registers. Section 20330 of the Commonwealth Accounting Policies and Procedures (CAPP) Manual provides authority for the university to establish petty cash funds.

  1. Petty cash funds may not be established to circumvent the state purchasing guidelines.
  2. Petty cash funds must adhere to Commonwealth of Virginia policies and procedures.
  3. It is unlawful to misuse or abuse state funds.
  4. The university strongly encourages departments to consider obtaining the P-Card for small purchases of goods and services.

Please refer to the Departmental Petty Cash Fund Manual or the Petty Cash Guidelines for Research Subject Payments.

Unallowable Expenses

Petty cash funds may not be used for expenses that are prohibited by state rules. Commonwealth Accounting Policies and Procedures section 20310 lists the following as unallowable expenses:

  • Subscriptions, except for bona fide business purposes, and not to exceed one year
  • Cash advances
  • Gifts or flowers
  • Bottled water
  • Coffee service, machines or supplies
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Framing of award certificates
  • Picture framing (unless the item remains the property of George Mason University)
  • Books for classes (unless they remain the property of George Mason University)
  • Snacks for employees
  • Retirement parties or employee going-away parties
  • Group luncheons for employees
  • Holiday cards or decorations
  • Non-business related newspapers or magazines
  • Charitable contributions
  • Replacement of stolen or lost employee personal articles
  • Personal items for employees
  • Employee clothing (non-uniform)

Note: This listing provides general guidelines only.

Petty Cash funds may not be used to purchase food and beverages. These purchases must be made using the Food and Beverages Authorization forms which require advance approval from specified officials.

Review University Policy Number 2102 “Food and Beverages Expenditures” and Food and Beverages Authorization forms at Forms & Instructions page.

State Sales Tax Exemption

The university is exempt from paying Virginia sales tax on all purchases of goods and services except lodging and prepared food. Individuals purchasing goods or receiving services on behalf of the university should supply vendors with a copy of the Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption form.

The Petty Cash Officer cannot reimburse departments for unauthorized state sales tax paid from Petty Cash funds. The university’s tax-exempt status does not apply to other taxes.

Establish a Petty Cash Fund

Departments who wish to establish a Petty Cash fund should contact the Petty Cash Officer at ext. 3-2580 to discuss the need for Petty Cash. If appropriate, the Petty Cash Request Form is then completed by the department and submitted by mail to Accounts Payable Petty Cash Officer, MSN 3C1 or by email to  The form should be accompanied by a written memo indicating why a Mason P-Card will not meet departmental needs and expected frequency of fund use.

Once the request has been approved, the Petty Cash Officer will request a disbursement check made payable to the person listed as the Custodian on the request form. When the check is ready, the Petty Cash Officer will contact the Custodian. The Custodian must pick up the check, in person, at the Purchasing and Accounts Payable office, Merten Hall, Suite 4200 and present a Mason issued photo ID. Upon receipt of the check, the custodian will sign a Petty Cash Receipt of Funds and Certification of Responsibility form to confirm the recipient understands his/her responsibility as Custodian of the fund. The Custodian may then cash the check and hold the funds in a secure location, such as a drawer in a locked filing cabinet within the department. The department/unit is responsible for safeguarding the funds and replacing any missing funds, including stolen funds.

Replenish Expenditure Funds

Replenishment for expenditure funds may be requested as needed. The custodian must complete the Petty Cash Reimbursement Request form (i.e. PCRR form) located on the Fiscal Services website under Policies & Procedures > Forms and Instructions. The Custodian will sign, date, and attach all itemized receipts to the reimbursement request form for all expenses made with the Petty Cash. The form may be sent to Attn: Petty Cash Officer, Accounts Payable, MSN 3C1 or electronically to Please allow five business days to process reimbursement requests.

Close a Petty Cash Fund

Petty Cash Expenditure funds must be closed no later than 30 days after the date the funds are scheduled to be returned. Petty Cash Change funds must be closed when the fund is no longer needed. A Petty Cash Expenditure/Gift Card fund, related to a sponsored research project, must be closed no later than two weeks after the project is complete. Failure to close a Petty Cash fund in a timely manner may result in a deduction of the outstanding amount from the Custodian’s paycheck.

Steps to Close a Petty Cash Fund

  1. Complete the Petty Cash Request Form, Section C title Close Account
  2. Deposit any unused cash to the Cashier’s Office using a Cash Receipt form. Deposits must be posted to Bank No. 5, Org:18213, Account 13136 with Description:Petty Cash Close – “Custodian Name”
  3. Total disbursement is the amount of funds expended.
  4. The Cash Receipt total plus the total disbursement(s) must equal the original Petty Cash fund amount.
  5. Attach a copy of the Cash Receipt form to the log of expenditures
  6. The form and documentation may be sent to the Accounts Payable Petty Cash Officer, MSN 3C1

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