Documenting a Business Purpose

LAST UPDATED: October 11, 2016

What You Should Know

On all  Expense Reports — whether the expense is for the purchase of travel, conference registration, meeting supplies, or a retirement gift for a Princeton colleague — you must provide justification for the purchase. It’s essential that reviewers, approving managers, and auditors understand the circumstances under which you made the purchase and why it was necessary.

Your brief, accurate, and complete description of the business purpose should be clear enough that a person outside the University could read it years from now and have no question about the eligibility of the expense for reimbursement. Expense reports and have space for documentation of business purpose. In your documentation, include:

  • who attended or received the benefit from the expenditure;
  • what purpose the expenditure served, why the expense was necessary, or how it furthered the University’s goals; and
  • when and where the expense took place.

Functionality in Concur pre-populates many fields for you, or prompts you to enter information that informs the business purpose, such as names of attendees for group meals. These available fields vary depending on the expense type. It's not necessary to reiterate information in the business purpose field if other entries in that expense line contain the appropriate information.


Business Meal: You need to document the business purpose for a lunch you and two colleagues attended in the local business area to discuss your joint presentation at an upcoming conference.

Save the itemized restaurant receipt. Your credit card receipt does not include enough detailed information for submission with your expense report. On the expense report, enter the date and cost of the meal. For business purpose, you would enter the reason for the meal as “discuss upcoming ACA conference presentation." Then, enter the names and titles of the people who attended the lunch, including yourself.

Travel: You need to document the business purpose for the purchase of registration and travel expenses for attendance at a seminar where you presented a paper you co-authored with one of your professors.

On your expense report, enter the conference dates, location, and names of yourself and your professor who co-presented the paper. Enter that the business purpose was "XYZ conference, present paper to support Prof. Wood's research. Save all your itemized receipts of $50 or greater, enter each item (conference registration, dinner, hotel, rail fare, taxi fare), dates, and cost of each on the expense report.

Miscellaneous Expense: You need to document the business purpose for the purchase of decorations and candy you bought for an office retirement party.

On your expense report, enter the retiring colleague’s name, title, and department, the date you gave her the party, and the total cost for the decorations and candy. For business purpose, state “Retirement party for Jayne Hardy, 34 years of service.

Submit your request for reimbursement within 30 days of incurring the expense. After 60 days, any reimbursement will be reported to the IRS as taxable income.  For additional detail, please see the Reimbursement Policy.

For more information


Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-0442

Princeton University
Office of Finance & Treasury
701 Carnegie Center
Princeton, NJ 08540

Google Map
Princeton Shuttle


7 New South
Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-5040
Open Monday through Friday,
8:45 am — 5:00 pm


Customer service, cashiering,
check pick-up, financial system access


The General Ledger is your link to updates on people, policies, and other information related to financial transactions at the University.

Download Current Issue
Download Past Issues


How can we better serve you? Submit comments, questions, and ideas to our customer service department.