Skip to main content

Honorarium Payments

An honorarium is a payment given to a professional person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required.  A honorarium is not a speaker fee or consultant fee.

If an international visitor will receive an honorarium payment from Vanderbilt University, the recipient must hold a visa that permit them to receive an honorarium.  For example, under current U.S. immigration regulations, persons in H-1B status, cannot receive honoraria.  In addition, an honorarium payment for the benefit of an H-1B recipient cannot be made to the visitor's employer for disbursement to the H-1B visitor.  If any international visitor cannot legally receive an honorarium payment based on visa restrictions, payment cannot be made.

In general, payments made to international visitors are immediately subject to US tax withholding. There are some exceptions to this general rule but international visitors should clearly understand that taxes may have to be deducted from honoraria, speaker fees and travel reimbursements.   If an international visitor meets certain requirements, however, they may be able to benefit from tax treaty and other visa status benefits that reduce or exempt them from US taxation.

All business  visitors  should complete the  Business Visitor Questionnaire (BVQ)  prior to arrival at Vanderbilt University.  Early completion of this form will allow for prompt payment  as ITO will be able to complete the tax analysis process in a timely fashion.  

Vanderbilt University uses the secure online tax compliance software GLACIER to capture the information required to determine the actual tax status of an international individual. Using the information provided in the Business Visitor Questionnaire, the ITO staff will grant access to GLACIER for all international visitors receiving payment. The visitor will need to complete his or her profile in GLACIER. This information is used to perform a tax analysis that will determine the tax status of the individual. The visitor will need to print and sign any tax forms that generate and submit them to the ITO.  

In addition to the forms generated by GLACIER, the ITO requires copies of the visitor’s immigration documents.  The visitor will be provided with a list of the immigration documents required.

Additional immigration information for international visitors is available on our Business Visitors webpage.