Late Salary Cost Transfers (Beyond 90 Days)

Page Updated: December 17, 2020

An Example of a Late Salary Cost Transfer: A payroll error was posted on 9/30 but was not identified until after 12/31. A late salary cost transfer request should be submitted immediately. However, should it not meet the extenuating circumstances, charges would be required to be moved to a non-sponsored departmental account.

The distribution of salary charges for University personnel should be a reasonable reflection of the employee’s effort. These distributions should be reviewed on a regular basis. If changes are anticipated, a payroll change request should be prepared.

In the cases where these changes were not anticipated, resulting in the need to submit a salary cost transfer request, the request should be submitted immediately (see “Timeliness,” below).

Careful consideration must be given to personnel allocations to ensure that projects that benefit are charged properly at the outset and that further adjustments are not required. Salary distribution and effort as certified in ECRT must coincide. Note: for transfers affecting sponsored project IDs, if the salary cost transfer request affects a closed Effort certification period, refer to the Effort Reporting Guidelines for further guidance.

Permissibility of Salary Cost Transfers

For a Salary Cost transfer to be permissible, it needs to meet the criteria established for both timeliness and appropriateness.


Salary Cost transfers should be processed immediately after the error is identified, but in any case not later than 90 days after the end of the accounting month in which the transaction journal date has posted. Transfers made after this period of time raise questions concerning the propriety of the transfer. Requests for transfers made after 90 days will be considered only under extenuating circumstances.

Note: The University of Wisconsin – Madison is obligated to immediately correct unallowable charges made to sponsored projects, regardless of time frame.

Each Late Salary Cost transfer must be clearly explained with supporting documentation. The PI or designee has primary responsibility for fulfilling these requirements and maintaining the related records. In addition, the PI or designee is responsible for providing appropriate documentation. Research and Sponsored Programs may also require additional supporting documentation or information beyond what is required with the salary cost transfer request.


To process Late Salary Cost transfers, you will need to submit a completed Salary Cost Transfer in the Cost Transfer Tool to your School/College Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will route it to Research and Sponsored Programs for approval. The Cost Transfer Tool requires additional justification for salary cost transfers made after 90 days. You must provide this complete justification by addressing the following questions:

  1. Why was this expense originally charged to the project from which it is now being transferred?
  2. Why should the charge(s) be transferred to the proposed receiving project (how does the project benefit)?
  3. Why are the charges allowable and allocable based on the terms and conditions of the receiving award?
  4. Why is this cost being transferred more than 90 days after the transaction occurred?
  5. What corrective action has taken place to eliminate the need for cost transfers of this type in the future?

Generic or incomplete justifications may be returned to the preparer for additional explanation.