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Policies for Business Cellular Phones. Leslie Youngberg: LYoungberg1@weber.edu Barbara LeDuc: BLeDuc@weber.edu Allison Knowlton: AllisonKnowlton@weber.edu. Introduction. Who? What? Why?. Weber State University. Outline. IRS Ruling Forming a Policy Pros and Cons Process Stipends

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policies for business cellular phones

Policies for Business Cellular Phones

Leslie Youngberg: LYoungberg1@weber.edu

Barbara LeDuc: BLeDuc@weber.edu

Allison Knowlton: AllisonKnowlton@weber.edu

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?

Weber State University

  • IRS Ruling
  • Forming a Policy
  • Pros and Cons
  • Process
  • Stipends
  • Tax Issues
  • Lessons Learned
  • Resources
irs audit techniques guide
IRS Audit Techniques Guide

The IRS is stepping up its enforcement activities. There is evidence the IRS is aggressively auditing the fringe benefits area.

A brief discussion of cellular phones can be found under the “Employee Use of Listed Property” heading on page 6 of the “Internal Revenue Services Fringe Benefits Audit Techniques Guide” found on your CD.

Internal Revenue Service Fringe Benefits Audit Techniques Guide:


fringe benefits
Fringe Benefits

If the IRS were to come and audit University Departments offering cellular phones to employees and they find personnel are not reimbursing the department/university for personal calls, both incoming and outgoing, whether they have unlimited plans or not, the IRS can assess huge fines. Cellular phones are cited as fringe benefits.

IRS requires that the business and personal use of University owned cell phones must be documented in a very detailed manner. The IRS can declare that all undocumented use is personal and should be taxed, even if the calls were mostly business calls. Receiving a taxable reimbursement for an individually owned cell phone removes this detailed documentation requirement.

income taxes fringe benefits
Income Taxes/Fringe Benefits

Unless otherwise provided by law, the value of a fringe benefit provided to an employee is included in that employee’s gross income. An exclusion is a “working condition fringe benefit”. That is any property or services provided to an employee of the employer to the extent that, if the employee paid for such property or services, such payment would be allowable as a deduction on their income taxes.

  • IRC Section 61 (a)(1), 132 (a) & (d) & Schedule A Tax Form 1040 Itemized Deductions
fica and futa taxes
FICA and FUTA Taxes

To the extent the value of a fringe benefit is included in gross income of an employee for income tax purposes, the value of the fringe benefit is also included in wages subject to FICA and FUTA taxes. The IRC law also states. To the extent the value of the fringe benefit is excluded in the gross income of an employee for income tax purposes, the value of the fringe benefit is also excluded from wages subject to FICA and FUTA taxes.

  • IRC sections 3121(a)(20), 3306(b)(16)
listed property and substantiation requirements
Listed Property and Substantiation Requirements

Rigorous substantiation requirements are imposed. Substantiation requires employees to provide the business purpose of each expense, generally in writing.

  • IRC 280F(d)(4), Treas. Reg. Section 1.274-5T(b)

Business use is excludable from wages of the employee as a working fringe benefit. Personal use is included in the wages of the employee. If substantiation requirements are not met, all use is included in the wages of the employee.

examples of listed property
Examples of Listed Property
  • Passenger Automobiles
  • Other property used as means of transportation
  • Any computer or peripheral equipment
  • Cellular telephone or other similar telecommunications equipment
  • Internet Server Allowances
        • IRC Section 280F(d)(4)
what can the irs do
What can the IRS do?
  • Impose fines
  • Require reimbursement
  • Make the University responsible to go through each bill; if the call is not documented, it will then be considered personal
why stipends
Why Stipends?

Supplemental pay is given to an employee on his/her paycheck to pay for business calls. This accommodates the IRS rules and regulations and alleviates documenting calls.


Just in Time…

forming a policy
Forming a Policy
  • Form a committee
  • Evaluate special consideration groups
  • Research other Universities
  • Work with Vendors
  • Evaluate Pros and Cons
  • Discuss stipend issues
  • Discuss tax issues
forming a committee
Forming a Committee
  • Members of the committee consisted of:
    • CIO
    • Internal Auditor
    • University Lawyer
    • Continuing Education Dean
    • Purchasing
    • Faculty Members
    • Facilities Management
    • Telecommunications
    • Campus Recreation
special consideration groups
Special Consideration Groups
  • Police Department
  • Facilities Management
  • Athletics
  • Blackberry Users
pros of keeping university plan
Pros ofKeeping University Plan
  • Central Point of contact for all vendors
  • No signed contracts with vendors
  • Device and plan changes can be made within minutes
  • Knowledgeable contact for employees
  • Rate plan analysis for users
pros of moving phones to individual accounts
Pros of moving phones to Individual accounts
  • Fulfills IRS requirements
  • Personal calls allowed
  • No need to micromanage accounts
  • No overage costs for the University
  • More freedom for plan choices
  • Supervisors determine whether an employee requires a cellular phone to perform their duties
  • Supervisors determine the level of service needed
  • Telecommunications representatives meet with departments to discuss their options
  • Telecommunications works with users to ensure that service plans and equipment are up-to-date and satisfactory
process cont
Process Cont.
  • Users fill out the “Employee Mobile Communication Agreement Form”
  • Supervisors submit PAR requests for stipends
  • Telecommunications works with cellular companies to release accounts to individual users
  • Users contact cellular companies to assume responsibility for their accounts
process cont20
Process Cont.
  • PARs need to be renewed after a year
  • Employees will need to bring in their cellular bill once a year to prove that they have the service
  • Who gets a stipend for a cellular phone?
  • What should the stipend amount be?
  • What are the limitations?
  • What kind of safeguards should be put in place?
  • What happens if work related calls exceed the stipend amount?
  • How will the employee receive the stipend?
stipend amounts
Stipend Amounts

Determining appropriate stipend amounts

  • Exact cost of plan
  • Five dollar increments
  • Ten dollar increments
  • Twenty dollar increments
  • Plan plus tax coverage
tax issues
Tax Issues
  • How do we handle the taxes the employee will pay for the stipend?
  • Should the stipend be taxed as income?
  • Should the University give compensation to cover for the taxes on the stipend?
  • Should the individual accept the tax for the privilege of personal calls?
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Transferring people off the account is not an easy process
  • It is not a cost-saving method initially
  • Cost controls
  • You can’t always rely on vendors
  • There will be resistance
website information
Website Information
  • Weber State University’s Cellular Policy FAQ:


  • Weber State University’s Cellular Policy:


  • Weber State University’s Cellular Agreement Form: http://weber.edu/ITDivision/Employee_Agreement.html
  • Weber State University’s Telecommunications Home Page:


  • Internal Revenue Service Fringe Benefits Audit Techniques Guide: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/corporations/article/0,,id=134943,00.html
universities who have made the change
Universities Who Have Made the Change
  • Indiana University:


  • Montana State University: http://www.montana.edu/wwwitc/telephoneservices/mobile.html
  • Portland State University:


  • The University of Texas at Austin: http://www.utexas.edu/business/accounting/hbp/09_expend/expend2-9.html
  • University of Utah:


  • Weber State University:



Additional questions may be sent to:

Leslie Youngberg – LYoungberg1@weber.edu

Barbara Leduc – BLeduc@weber.edu

Allison Knowlton – AllisonKnowlton@weber.edu