Policy On Wireless Devices for Business Use

The current IRS tax code characterizes wireless devices as "listed property" and imposes stringent detailed recordkeeping requirements, particularly if there are components of both business and personal use. This policy would instead make a taxable allowance to the employee in advance, and leave the purchase of the wireless service/device and the usage of the device up to the employee.  Examples of wireless devices are cell phones, smart phones/personal digital assistants (PDA).

  • This process applies to employees who are required by the university to carry a wireless device so as to be available to the university (generally 24/7) while away from campus and/or to use a wireless device as an integral, non-optional tool in performing their assigned duties. 
  • Appropriate administrators in each division (President, VP's , CIO) will determine if an employee is required to have a wireless device for university business. 


For those employees who have been assigned to carry such a device, the university offers two options.  The decision regarding which option to use will be determined by the employee and their administrator. 

Option One: University-owned device; Nextel/Sprint Push-to-Talk only

  • The use of the device is for business use only.  Personal use is prohibited. 
  • The university has a contract with Nextel for this service. The arrangement is between the University and the provider. 
  • The employee/administrator will submit a purchase request to Purchasing to acquire the device/service.
  • Monthly statements will be processed via the campus Pcard which includes review/approval by the employee and their administrator.

Option Two:  Personally-owned device

  • This option makes a taxable allowance to the employee in advance and leaves the purchase of the wireless device and the service plan/provider up to the employee.  The cellular service agreement is between the employee and the provider; the university is not involved in the agreement with the provider.
  • The university will provide a single annual expense allowance payment toward (a) acquisition/update of a device of $150, and (b) allowance toward service fees.  The service fee allowance is determined on whether the employee is required to have a Voice Only plan ($840) or a Voice, Text and Data plan ($1,320).  Therefore, employees covered by Option Two will receive an annual payment of $990 or $1,470 depending on the service plan.
  • The expense allowance will be reported by the University as taxable W-2 income.
  • Division administrators may not use this expense allowance as a salary supplement.
  • The division Vice President will create a single comprehensive list of employees to receive a stipend under Option 2 indicating the service plan authorized.   The Vice President's signature on this list will indicate their authorization for the stipend. 
  • The list must be attached to a single Check Request and submitted to Accounts Payable by January 15th each year.

Additional information:

  • No further expense allowances or reimbursements will be made. 
  • Any expenses above and beyond what is outlined here, including the cost of changes in phone numbers are the responsibility of the employee.
  • Mid-year additions will be provided on a pro-rata basis.
  • For any employee separating from the University during the calendar year after receiving the stipend, a pro-rata deduction will be made from the employee's final paycheck for the unused service plan stipend.
  • ITS will provide a list of cell/smart phone/PDA units for which they provide support.
  • ITS may provide policy addendums that address information security expectations.

Next Steps Purchasing is working on to implement this policy:

  • Obtaining a list from AT&T of all University cell phone accounts, employee name, start/end date of current contract.
  • Discussions with AT&T on transferring account name from University to private employee without penalty.  (Need to discuss process)
  • We have the additional issue of being "locked-in" on iPhone plans that are not cancellable without a complete pay-out to AT&T of the remainder of the 2 year agreement; this is applicable if an individual who has a phone now does not qualify under the new University cell phone policy.
  • Purchasing is contacting ITS to obtain a list of the cell/PDA units they support for email, internet, etc.
  • Will we have information security issues, especially regarding lost phones/pda's that contain University information?
  • Phased in use of this plan as new employees are hired or existing contracts expire.
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