Cell Phone Policy
Effective November 1, 2007
Under IRS Code Section 274(d), the IRS considers cell phones to be “listed property” and as such requires detailed record keeping including (a) the amount of the expense; (b) the time and place of each call; and (c) the business purpose for each call and to whom it was made. The IRS can declare that all undocumented use is personal and should be taxed as wages, even if the cell phone or device were mostly used for business purposes.
The degree of effort required for employees and the College to comply with these regulations is onerous; therefore Sarah Lawrence is converting to a program where each eligible employee will receive a taxable allowance for an individually owned cell phone or device. This change eliminates the detailed IRS documentation requirement.
The College does not own cell phones or devices for the use of individual employees, with exceptions as defined below. Instead, administrators whose positions include the frequent need for a cell phone or device may receive extra compensation, in the form of a taxable allowance, to cover business-related costs.
The sole exception is for members of admission, student affairs, public safety and maintenance who require specific equipment or similar technology to perform college functions and never expect to use these phones for personal use. Exceptions must be approved by the Vice President of Finance and the Director of Information Systems. These individuals will be provided with a college-owned phone or device and will be required to submit monthly documentation verifying business use, which agrees with the monthly billing statement from the provider. Immediate supervisors will be required to approve all charges, attesting that all calls were business related. Failure to keep current with this documentation requirement may result in the employee returning the phone or device to the College. If a personal call inadvertently occurs; restitution must be made to the College prior to the next billing cycle.
Sarah Lawrence reserves the right to switch any employee to the allowance program if excessive personal calls are made or if required documentation is not submitted in a timely manner.
Procedures for the Allowance Policy
A. Establishment and Payment of Allowance
Certain administrative employees will be entitled to receive an allowance toward the cost of their personal cell phone. The allowance will be granted upon the department head's approval, primarily for those whose jobs require consistent travel off campus. These may include Admission Department staff members, the Director of International Programs, the Director of Graduate Admission, and College Resources staff members. In addition selected senior level department heads will be entitled to a cell phone allowance.
In most cases the allowance will be $53.00 per month. For selected members of Advancement, whose college related cell phone usage must exceed this base plan allowance, the subsidy may be $80.00 per month if approved by the Vice President of Advancement. (This includes a grossing up of the actual plan costs of $39.95 and 59.95 in order to allow for taxes.)
Allowances will be paid monthly as part of the administrator’s paycheck and this monthly cost will be charged against the employee’s respective department operating budget. This monthly allowance is taxable income; therefore the individual will be taxed in accordance with IRS tax regulations. Since these phones will be the property of the employee, they may be used for personal calls and can be combined or enhanced with other personal plans.
This allowance does not constitute an increase to base pay, and will not be included in the calculation of percentage increases to base pay due to annual raises, job upgrades or benefits based on a percentage of salary, etc.
B. Allowance Approval Process
Department Heads must approve the allowance for their department members. They are responsible for an annual review of employee business-related cell-phone and device use, to determine if existing allowances should be continued, changed, or discontinued.
The completed Cell Phone Allowance Request form should be submitted to the Director of Human Resources for processing in order to have the allowance added to the individual’s paychecks.
C. Device Policies
The employee will be responsible for choosing their own equipment. There is no additional allowance for the purchase of cell phones, since most carriers offer a number of phones free in connection with their service plan. Any replacement for loss or damage will be at the expense of the employee.
Use of the phone or device in any manner contrary to local, state, or federal laws will constitute misuse, and will result in immediate termination of the allowance.
Administrators may not charge their monthly cell phone service to their College American Express Care.
Support for cell phones and devices will be provided by the carrier. Information Technology may provide consultation on the type of smart-phone equipment to purchase, especially as it relates to data plans that enable email and calendar support, but it is not responsible for ensuring (nor can it guarantee) compatibility between all makes and models of phones and the College’s information systems. If you wish to purchase a smart-phone with “native” support for synchronizing with the College’s Exchange email system, ask your carrier for options that support “over-the-air” connectivity to Microsoft Exchange: ex/ Apple iPhone, most Android-based smart-phones, and Windows-based smart-phones. Please note that the College does not operate a Blackberry Enterprise Server and cannot guarantee compatibility between Blackberry devices and College email and calendaring systems. The College does not support the installation of synchronization software (ex/ iTunes and Blackberry Desktop) on College-owned computers.
D. Fees for Contract Changes or Cancellations
If a college or departmental decision results in the need to end or change the cell phone or device contract, the college will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or cancellation.
If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract, a personal decision by the administrator, employee misconduct or misuse of the phone results in the need to end or change the cell phone or device contract, the administrator will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or cancellation.
E. Reimbursement for Business Calls on Personal Cell Phone for those who do not receive the allowance
If an individual’s position does not include the frequent need for a cell phone, he/she may request reimbursement for the actual extra expenses of business cell phone calls. Reimbursement for per-minute "air time" charges is limited to the total overage charge shown on the monthly invoice; expenses for minutes included in the plan will not be reimbursed. The individual should make personal payment to the provider, and then should submit a request for reimbursement with all the record-keeping required by the IRS regulations.