What is Petty Cash



Petty cash is a vehicle for payment/reimbursement of small dollar transactions in an efficient and cost effective manner, but is frequently not the most cost effective way to purchase these goods. Business managers are encouraged to mainly use petty cash as a last resort when other payment options are not feasible (i.e. CU P-Cards).  No expenses that are reportable to the IRS or subject to income tax withholding may be reimbursed through petty cash.  Petty Cash funds should not be commingled with any other fund.


Each department at Columbia University may establish a Petty Cash Fund of up to $500.  The use of petty cash funds should be limited to reimbursement of faculty, staff, and visitors (including students who are not also staff) for small expenses, not to exceed $80 (taxi fares, postage, emergency office supplies, etc.).  Exception: Reimbursement cost of monthly MTA Metrocard.  For use of petty cash for human subjects research – click here.


The Office of the Controller authorizes the establishment, modification, recertification and closure of these accounts.   Establishment and increases in Petty Cash Funds must have appropriate DAF approval at the department level and, if it is a Columbia University Medical Center department, the CUMC Controller’s Office must also approve.  Accounts Payable is responsible for processing replenishments of Petty Cash Funds (and for approving final receipts during fund closure), which are subject to the University’s policies and procedures regarding expense processing.