FAQ's Accounts Payable 

Accounts Payable Frequently Asked Questions and Procedures:

MTSU Accounting Services - Cope Administration Building Room 106 - (615) 898-2940 - invoice@mtsu.edu

Where do I tell a vendor to send an invoice?

An invoice should be mailed to MTSU Accounting Services, CAB 106, 1301 E Main St, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. Vendors may email invoices to invoice@mtsu.edu. If a department receives an invoice, please forward the hard copy to Accounts Payable or forward the email chain to invoice@mtsu.edu. You may ask the vendor to copy your department on the invoice e-mail. Accounting Services must pay from the original source document as part of the University’s internal control procedures for audit review purposes.

What is an acceptable invoice?

An invoice should have an invoice number, vendor address, an itemized description and amount due clearly stated. If the vendor (possibly an individual) does not have a company logo, a signature is required for authenticity. The “Bill To” information should be to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

What is an acceptable gratuity percentage?

The University has determined that 20% is a reasonable percentage for gratuities provided with state funds.

When is my department required to obtain a W-9?

The University requires a W-9 for each U.S. vendor or individual Accounting Services pays. The Office of Business and Finance requires a W-8BEN when paying foreign individuals.

For non-U.S. entities, one of the following W-8 Series forms may be required:

  • W-8BEN-E – Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for U.S. Withholding and Reporting (Entities)
  • W-8ECI – Certificate of Foreign Person’s Claim that Income is Effectively Connected with the Conduct of Trade or Business in the U.S.
  • W-8EXP – Certificate of Foreign Government or Other Foreign Organization for U.S. Tax Withholding and Reporting
  • W-8IMY - Certificate of Foreign Intermediary, Foreign Flow-through Entity, or Certain U.S. Branches for U.S. Tax Withholding and Reporting

Most foreign payments require wire payment processing. Please contact Nina Endsley in Accounting Services, 615 898-2174. The University requires complete bank instructions and the appropriate W-8 Series form before Accounting Services remits payment.

Is it possible to give a gift card?

The University does not encourage the purchase and distribution of gift cards to individuals; however, if a University business purpose requires gift cards, departments should follow the Gifts, Prizes, and Awards Policy 659

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers gift cards and gift certificates as cash equivalents and taxable income to the recipient. Due to their cash equivalency nature, departments may not provide gift cards without prior approval by a division’s Vice President or Provost and the Vice President for Business and Finance. Adequate controls must be in place for the safekeeping and distribution of the cards. To document a gift card exchange, each card recipient must acknowledge the receipt of each card by signature. If an authorized gift card purchase and distribution will not occur within two weeks, the employee should purchase the card(s) and receive reimbursement after the distribution. Departments should purchase and distribute cards within the same fiscal year. For additional detailed guidance, please contact Accounting Services.

In order to request payment, departments should use Gifts, Prizes, or Award Recipient Information and Payment Authorization.

Use the following form to document a recipient’s signature:

Gift Card Log - https://www.mtsu.edu/boffice/docs/GiftCard_Log.pdf.

What are the steps for providing incentives to research participants, and what are the associated accounting requirements?

Please review Research Participant Payments Policy 663 for general guidance concerning participant payments.

When a faculty member wants to do a research study and provide gift cards to participants as inducements, the IRB must approve the study. Once approved, the faculty member should determine how to purchase the gift cards.

Will the faculty member need a research cash advance?

If so, an exception approval will be needed for the cash advance, since only the Travel Policy permits cash advances. This exception request may be completed through the Gifts, Prizes, or Awards Recipient Information PA form, and the approvers should include the faculty member’s chain of command and include Alan Thomas as the highest-level approver. Only 1 advance should be requested per research study.

Will the faculty member personally purchase the cards without an advance?

If so, the faculty member will later file a reimbursement request via the Gifts, Prizes, or Awards Recipient Information PA form. For timely reimbursement and advance closure, Accounting Services recommends that all gift cards be purchased and distributed within 15 days of purchase. For extended studies, gift cards should be purchased and distributed incrementally. No gift card inventory should be retained.

Will the gift card payments be made via physical or electronic distribution?

If physical distribution is chosen, the faculty member must have the participants sign a gift card log, other physical confirmation form, or complete an electronic form, a unique Dynamic Form provided via faculty request to Accounting Services. As an alternate method, participants have sent e-mail confirmations in the past. These confirmation messages must be sent directly to invoice@mtsu.edu rather than being forwarded by the faculty member. The e-mail method is no longer recommended, since a Dynamic Form can be developed for specific studies.

If electronic distribution is chosen, the faculty member must have the participants complete an electronic form, a unique Dynamic Form provided via faculty request to Accounting Services. As an alternate method, participants have sent e-mail confirmations in the past. These confirmation messages must be sent directly to invoice@mtsu.edu rather than being forwarded by the faculty member. When Amazon has been used for gift card distribution, Accounting Services has permitted Amazon “Received” information as support. Regardless of whether a Dynamic Form or e-mail method is employed, Accounting Services requests this documentation when Amazon is used.

Reimbursement Request and Advance Closure

Once the faculty member has purchased and distributed all gift cards to participants for a specific period, the faculty member should complete a Gifts, Prizes, or Awards PA form for reimbursement or closure of a research advance.

For a reimbursement request or advance closure, the faculty member should complete the Gifts, Prizes, or Awards PA form and attach a Gift Card log, alternate gift card confirmation as approved by Accounting Services, or reference the unique Dynamic Form that was created for the study.

Accounting Services will issue payment to the faculty member or close the advance in accordance with the appropriately submitted documentation. Research Services should track when a W-9 is necessary and should provide this information to Accounting Services as appropriate.

For additional guidance concerning the gift card procedures, please contact Accounting Services.

May my department provide gift cards for research participants?

A separate policy governs research participant payments. For guidance and reporting requirements, please review Research Participant Payments, Policy 664.

May our department give a gift card to an employee?

Departments may not use University funds to purchase gift cards for employees. The Foundation has authorized the purchase of gift cards for student employees and retirees. For additional guidance concerning this process, please see the “Cash Awards to Employees” procedure located at https://www.mtsu.edu/boffice/docs/AwardsToEmployees.pdf.

How do I determine which account code to use when completing the University Payment Authorization Form?

The Banner Finance Department Account Code Listing is located at https://www.mtsu.edu/boffice/resources.php.  When in doubt, please e-mail Accounting Services for guidance.  A link to “Frequently Used Expenses Account Codes” is included on the Payment Authorization Routing Form.

Is there a limit for an honorarium payment?

An honorarium is a gift for an amount up to $500. Any amount above this must be completed through MT$ource using the Contract Office form. The University requires invoices for negotiated services.

Who can send MTSU’s W-9 and Sales Tax Exemption Certificate to a vendor? Will the University send this information on behalf of an MTSU student organization?

Departments should contact responsible Accounts Payable representative. Please see our Staff listing.

Student organizations are separate entities from MTSU. Each organization should have its own EIN. The organizations may not use the University’s W-9 or tax-exempt certificate.

Where are the most up-to-date forms for payment processing?

Departments should go to the Office of Business and Finance Forms page. To process payments in the correct manner, departments should always start with a form located on the web site, because it will be the most up-to-date. Paper forms are no longer accepted.

What do I need to know before purchasing food for a department event or activity?

Prior to initiating a food purchase, please review the following policy:

Food and Beverages – Policy 661

** MTSU currently has an exclusive contract with Aramark for all food service on campus.**

How do I document a food purchase?

To pay a food vendor or reimburse an employee for food from state funds, please use the Food Purchase Authorization

For food purchases using the P-Card, please use the Food Purchase Routing Form – PCard, which is located on the Business Office Forms page. Please note that the approved form must be received by PCard Compliance 5 days prior to the event date to ensure adequate time for vendor setup and card use activation for food purchase. 

How do I document a membership/subscription?

Please see the Membership and Subscription – Policy 660.

Each department/department head will be responsible for ensuring the membership and subscription purchase adheres to the parameters of this policy. All memberships and subscriptions are under the discretion and responsibility of the department head.

Each department is encouraged to develop a specific procedure for procuring and tracking memberships and subscriptions to ensure adherence to this policy.

Memberships and subscriptions may be purchased with a Payment Authorization through Accounting Services.

Memberships and subscriptions may be purchased using a University P-card and must follow policies relating to proper card use and card security measures as addressed in Policy 632 Purchasing Card (P-Card) Program.

Payment for either a new or renewed subscription, up to two (2) years, will be made in the fiscal year the original subscription is invoiced or the renewal invoice is received and does not need to coincide with the fiscal year. No payments will be permitted for more than a two (2)-year period.

Whom do I contact for additional information or further guidance?

Nina Endsley - Accounts Payable Manager - Nina.Endsley@mtsu.edu - 615.898.2174

Ben Jones - Director, Accounting Services - Ben.Jones@mtsu.edu - 615.898.5328

Contact Information


Cope Administration Building,
Room #103
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132