I. Policy Statement
Ithaca College is committed to providing essential, business-related tools for faculty and staff in a manner that promotes the proper stewardship of College funds; complies with IRS and other regulatory requirements; and establishes a framework for consistent decision-making. The College recognizes the need for employees to utilize cell phones in the course of their job requirements. As a result, Ithaca College offers a taxable allowance for cell phone service to employees whose duties and responsibilities require them to carry such.
This policy provides general guidelines for the appropriate and reasonable expenditure of Ithaca College funds for the use of cell phones for College related business purposes.
III. To Whom This Policy Applies
Any employee that is requesting or requires College support towards use of a cell phone for College related business purposes, supervisors, administrators, and management.
The President, Vice Presidents, Deans and Directors are responsible for assuring that within their administrative units or schools:
1. Budgeted funds are available to meet all business related commitments.
2. Proper authorization for purchases and/or cell phone allowances are obtained for any commitments made.
3. All expenditures follow appropriate Ithaca College policies, regardless of the source of funds.
4. There is recognition of the added conditions placed on expenditures paid for from federal and/or state funds, or from restricted gifts, and those restrictions are accounted for when expenditures are planned.
This policy is established as guidance to employees and supervisors, who by the nature of their work, are required to be accessible by telephone regardless of the time of day, day of the week, or geographical location.
The appropriate Vice President, or designee, must authorize any request for a cell phone allowance for eligible employees.
The IRS considers cell phones to be “listed property”. As such, the IRS requires detailed record keeping requiring business purpose substantiation of every call made on a cellular phone. All undocumented calls are declared personal use and must be taxed as wages. In order to avoid this onerous and burdensome record keeping requirement Ithaca College will provide a taxable allowance to employees for an individually owned cell phone with an approved and documented need.
The appropriate Vice President, or designee, may authorize a cell phone allowance for employees who are eligible and/or required to use their personal cell phone for College business. If authorized, employees will receive compensation in the form of a taxable allowance as described below. Simple convenience is not a criterion to receive a cell phone allowance. An allowance may be authorized by an employee’s supervisor and appropriate Vice President, or designee, if they feel an employee meets at least one of the following criteria:
1. Travel – Employees who frequently travel and need to be available to communicate with College associates or constituents at any and all times while traveling on College business.
2. Work Location – Employees who typically work in the field or who have multiple job-site locations where access to standard communication devices is not available during normal business hours.
3. Other – Employees whose job responsibilities require them to be accessible regularly during both business hours and non-business hours. This might include employees whose job responsibilities require them to provide technical and/or remote support to College systems.
Note: Any employee who receives a cell phone allowance is required to register their cell phone number with the College’s Emergency Notification System.
Allowance Request Form and Approval
Employees whose duties and responsibilities require them to carry a cell phone are eligible to receive a monthly cell phone allowance. A cell phone allowance must be requested by the eligible employee using the College’s Cell Phone Allowance Request Form located at https://www.ithaca.edu/financial_services/forms. The allowance must be approved by the appropriate Vice President, or designee.
Monthly Allowance Amount
Employees are responsible for contracting with a cellular phone service provider, for paying any initial plan charges, purchase of the phone itself, and for the plan’s monthly bill.
Ithaca College will pay a flat-rate monthly allowance, independent of the cell phone provider and plan selected by the employee. The dollar amount of the cell phone allowance should approximate the employees anticipated business related expenses only. Management should use the following schedule to determine the appropriate allowance(s):
- Option 1, Voice Plan Allowance - $50 maximum per month: This allowance is designed to cover voice usage needed for business purposes. The dollar amount of the cell phone allowance should approximate the employees anticipated business related expenses only and should not exceed the maximum monthly allowance.
- Option 2, Data Plan Allowance - $50 maximum per month: This allowance is designed to cover data usage needed for business purposes. Typically a data plan is required for extra phone services such as email, web browsing, and calendar integration.
- Option 3, Enhanced Text Messaging Allowance - $10 maximum per month: This allowance is designed to cover enhanced text messaging needed for business purposes.
The total monthly allowance amount will be based on the sum of the appropriate allowance options from above as determined applicable by the employee’s manager.
Note: Under no circumstances should the approved monthly allowance amount exceed the actual cell phone charges incurred by the employee.
Equipment Allowance Amount
Under certain circumstances an employee may require enhanced cellular accessibility, which means additional services such as email access, web browsing, and calendar integration. The need for this additional accessibility will require the purchase of a smart phone (ie. Blackberry or iPhone). Ithaca College will pay a taxable allowance of up to $200 for the purchase of a smart phone, if required for their position. An employee is eligible to purchase a new smart phone every 2 years.
The cell phone allowance is paid through Payroll and is included in the employee’s check/direct deposit. This allowance does not increase the employee’s base salary and will not be included in the calculation of any College benefits. This allowance is subject to all applicable taxes.
In the event an employee experiences a month of unusually high call volume resulting in overage charges for the month, the employee may submit a request for reimbursement of the overage charges that were a result of business related calls. This would, however, require the employee to submit a complete and detailed listing of all business related calls for the period in which the overages occurred to substantiate the reimbursement request.
Using the Cell Phone Service
The cell phone service is personally owned by the employee and may therefore be used for both personal and business calls. An employee with a cell phone allowance must maintain an active cell phone contract for the life of the allowance.
Business and Review Requirements
The employee’s supervisor is responsible for an annual review of the business need for a cell phone allowance to determine if allowances should be changed or discontinued. The employee’s supervisor should also perform an audit, at least once a year, requiring any employee receiving a cell phone allowance to provide a copy of their most recent cell phone statement documenting their monthly allowance does not exceed their monthly plan amount.
If an employee is terminated, resigns, transfers or is otherwise no longer eligible for a cell phone allowance, the employee’s supervisor should submit a revised Cell Phone Allowance Request Form noting “Discontinue allowance as of XX/XX/XX” in the business justification section of the form.
Contract Changes or Cancellations
If, prior to the end of a cell phone contract, a personal decision, employee misconduct, or misuse of the phone results in the need to change or end the cell phone contract, the employee will bear the cost of any associated contract termination fees. If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract period, a College decision is made (unrelated to employee misconduct) which results in the need to change or end the cell phone contract, the College will bear the cost of any associated contract termination fees.
Department Cell Phones
A departmental cell phone is a shared phone that is turned in by each employee at the end of his/her shift. Departmental cell phones are to be used for business purposes only. Phone bills for departmental cell phones must be reviewed monthly by department heads to verify business use.