II. WIRELESS PHONE ALLOWANCE
III. EMPLOYEES NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A WIRELESS PHONE ALLOWANCE
IV. UNIVERSITY-PROVIDED PHONES
V. SPECIAL RULE FOR GRANT ACCOUNTING
LINKS TO EXHIBITS
A. Tax law states that the personal use of University-provided wireless phones is a taxable fringe benefit. IRS rules mandate that the employee keep a log documenting each incoming and outgoing business call, including the business purpose of the call, and that the University include the value of personal calls in the employee’s taxable income (W-2). If the log is not kept, the IRS can declare that the entire cost of the wireless phone plan is taxable income to the employee, even if most of the calls were business-related. These IRS documentation requirements are impractical.
B. Therefore, the University will generally no longer provide wireless phone service for the use of individual employees. Instead, eligible employees may receive additional compensation, in the form of a wireless phone allowance, to cover the cost of business-related calls on their personal wireless phone.
C. Employees who are not eligible for a wireless phone allowance may be reimbursed for business calls on their personal wireless phones.Back to Top
II. Wireless Phone Allowance
A. Eligibility for Wireless Phone Allowance1. The University may provide a wireless phone allowance to an employee if at least one of the following criteria is met.
a. The job requires considerable time outside the office and it is important to the University that the employee be immediately accessible to receive and/or make frequent business calls during those times.
b. The job requires the employee to be immediately accessible to receive and/or make frequent business calls outside of working hours.
c. Job duties away from the office may expose the employee or others to immediate harm or danger (e.g., visits to homes of patients or clients).
2. Simple convenience is not sufficient. Eligibility is based on necessity, frequency and safety, not title or position. (For example, one computer administrator may perform his/her work entirely in a campus office and is never on call, while another employee with the same title may work primarily in the field and/or may be on call after hours.)
3. The allowance will be charged to an account specified by the employee’s department chair/head, who must ensure availability of funding. Thus, departmental eligibility criteria can be more (but not less) restrictive than the University criteria stated above.
4. The wireless phone allowance must be approved by the department chair/head, dean/director, and Vice President.
B. Wireless Phone Allowance Amount
1. The wireless phone allowance will be in accordance with Attachment A. Rates will be adjusted each July 1 based on average basic local plan costs. This is taxable income to the employee. (Note—the amount was established considering the additional taxes that the employee will have to pay on the allowance.)
2. The amount of the allowance may be increased if justified by greater voice or data usage needs and if approved by the Vice President. Documentation for the amount (such as previous phone bills) and for the necessity (as opposed to convenience) of the greater usage should be submitted in order to demonstrate the need for a higher allowance.
3. The allowance is not an entitlement—the amount can be changed or withdrawn without notice at any time.
4. The wireless phone allowance is not part of base pay for calculating percentage salary increases or calculating equity adjustments.
5. The University will generally
not pay for the phone instrument itself
because basic phones, capable of handling University business,
are usually available free upon entering into a wireless
plan. The employee can choose a phone with more features
and pay the difference if he/she chooses. The University
may pay the additional costs of certain features or cost of the
phone if justified by the employee and approved by the Vice
President. The phone will belong to the employee, not to the
University. In those cases where additional cost of features or
the cost of the phone is allowed, the amount to be reimbursed
will be limited to the amount in
Attachment A. The University will not pay for Activation Fees.
C. Employee and University Responsibilities
1. The employee must complete and sign the Wireless Phone Equipment Allowance Request Form and/or the Wireless Phone Allowance Request Form , thereby certifying that he/she will provide the phone number within five days of activation and will be available for calls (in possession of the phone and have it turned on) during those times specified by management.
2. The employee may select any wireless carrier whose service meets the requirements of the job responsibilities as determined by the department chair/head. (For example, computer technicians may sometimes work in the basements of campus buildings where the wireless phones of only certain carriers get a signal.) A fiscal officer may also restrict the allowance of his/her employees to the same carrier in order to reduce cell-to-cell costs. In most cases, however, the employee may select the wireless carrier and plan features of his/her choice (e.g., number of anytime minutes, local vs. nationwide, individual vs. family plan, etc.)
3. The employee must inform the University to discontinue the allowance when the eligibility criteria are no longer met or when the wireless service is cancelled.
4. Vice Presidents will be provided a list of employees receiving an allowance each June 30 for verification that employees should continue to receive the allowance. Management may periodically request that the employee provide a copy of the first page of the phone bill in order to verify that he/she has an active wireless phone plan. Management may also periodically request documentation of substantial business use.
5. The employee is responsible for all charges on his/her personal wireless plan, including Early Termination Fees. If the employee leaves the position, he/she continues to be responsible for the contractual obligations of his/her wireless plan.
6. The employee does not need to follow IRS rules for documentation of business and personal phone calls.
7. It is the employee’s responsibility to comply with state and municipal laws regarding the use of wireless phones while driving.
8. Wireless transmissions are not secure and employees should use discretion in relaying confidential information over wireless devices.
9. If the Wireless Phone Equipment Allowance Request Form and/or the Wireless Phone Allowance Request Form is received in Payroll by the 15 th of the month, the allowance will be included in that month’s pay. If received after the 15 th, it will be included beginning the following month.
10. The Payroll Department will keep approved Request Forms on file and available for internal or external audit.
III. Employees Not Eligible for a Wireless Phone Allowance
A. Employees not eligible for a wireless phone allowance may be reimbursed for necessary business calls made with their personal wireless phone with appropriate documentation. Reimbursement will be available only to the extent that the plan’s anytime minutes are exceeded. Reimbursement will be computed using average cost per minute:
1. Divide the total monthly bill less long distance and roaming charges by the total number of minutes used that month to derive a per-minute charge.
2. Multiply the per-minute charge by the number of necessary business minutes that month to the extent that they exceed the plans anytime minutes.
3. If applicable, add specific long distance and roaming charges attributable to the business calls.
4. Attach the calculations and a copy of the wireless phone bill highlighting the business calls. Indicate the business purpose of those calls. Send to Accounts Payable.
5. Under IRS rules, the reimbursement request must be received within sixty days of receipt of the bill or the reimbursement will be considered taxable income and added to the employee’s W-2.
B. Most wireless carriers offer a discount to state employees. This discount is available to all employees, including those who are not eligible for a wireless phone allowance. Contact carriers for more information.
IV. University-Provided Phones
A. With the approval of a Vice President, the University may pay for wireless phone service in certain limited circumstances—e.g., phones that rotate maintenance supervisors. No personal calls are allowed on University-provided phones. They should generally not be assigned to a specific individual or taken home on a regular basis.
B. Departments must submit a request to the Vice President for Finance and Administration approved by the dean/director and Vice President detailing the need for a University provided phone.
C. Department Chairs/Heads must review the monthly bills of University-provided phones to ensure that no personal calls were made. Inadvertent or emergency personal calls must be reimbursed to the University at the rate of $.30 per minute plus long distance and roaming charges.
V. Special Rules for Grant Accounts
A. Grant accounts vary as to whether cellular phone charges or allowances are allowed. Any requests for cell phone allowances or University Provided Phones must be approved through Grant Accounting.
A. The effective date of this policy is January 1, 2008. Departments will not be required to switch existing contracts to the personal use allowance method until the end of the current contract but no later than June 30, 2008. By that date, all existing University-provided wireless phone holders must either:
1. Cancel the University-provided wireless phone plan, or
2. Switch to a personal plan, cancel the University-provided wireless phone plan, and obtain Vice President approval on a Wireless Phone Allowance Request Form / Wireless Phone Equipment Allowance Request Form.
3. Obtain Vice President approval on a written request for a University Provided Phone for phones that meet the conditions described in IV.A. above.
B. Early Termination Fees, if any, for University-provided phones are the responsibility of the department . Attachment B provides information on termination and other pertinent information to consider.
C. Employees who are eligible for a wireless phone allowance and who already have a separate personal wireless phone plan need not obtain a second personal plan. They may be able to simply begin using their existing personal plan for business calls. They should ensure that their anytime minutes are sufficient for both business and personal use.
D. Employees who are eligible for a wireless phone allowance and who do not have a separate personal wireless phone plan should establish one. If they currently have a University-provided wireless phone they may choose to contact the carrier to determine if they can convert the University-paid plan to a personal plan, or, alternatively, if they can port over their current phone number to a new personal plan with a different carrier.
A. Extraordinary business use of an employee’s personal wireless phone in excess of the monthly allowance can be reimbursed with appropriate documentation.
B. Employees cannot circumvent this policy by obtaining a Foundation-provided wireless phone plan or allowance.
C. The Vice President for Finance and Administration can approve exceptions to this policy.Back to Top
LINKS TO EXHIBITS AND FORMSBack to Top
Original effective date: December 19, 2007
Revised: January 5, 2010
Last review: December 19, 2007