A new policy is being initiated for Colgate University’s cell phone and data service with voice
(“device”) program, which will result in each user having both freedom of choice and personal
responsibility for her or his cell phone or device plan. It will also enable the university to
comply with Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rules regarding the taxability of employee cell
phones and devices.
The IRS considers cell phones to be “listed property.” As such, the IRS requires detailed record
keeping (IRS Section 284(d) (4)) including (a) the amount of the expense; (b) the time and place of call; and (c) the
business purpose for the call. The IRS can declare that all undocumented use is personal and
should be taxed as wages, even if the cell phone or device was mostly used for business
purposes. The degree of effort for employees and the university required to comply with these
regulations is onerous; therefore Colgate 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 university will no longer own cell phones or devices for the use of individual employees
with limited exceptions as defined in section (H). Instead, employees whose job duties 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. Questions relative to this policy should be
directed to Tom O’Neill, Controller, 315-228-7865.
- Allowance Request
If a university employee's job duties include the frequent need for a cell phone or device, then
the employee may be eligible for an allowance to cover associated expenses. To receive such
an allowance, the employee must complete and submit either the Cell Phone Allowance Request Form (PDF) or Data Service with Voice Allowance Request Form (PDF).
Allowances will be paid monthly as part of an eligible employee’s paycheck and this monthly
cost will be charged against the employee’s respective department operating budget. The
monthly allowance is taxable income; therefore the individual will be taxed in accordance with
IRS tax regulations.
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
Under this allowance program, employees will no longer be required to document and submit
to the Accounting Office monthly detailed usage logs for their cell phones or devices and
employees will no longer have potential adverse tax consequences as a result of the use of a
cell phone or device funded by the university. Moreover, since these phones will be the
property of the employee, the phones and devices may be used for personal calls and be
combined or enhanced with other personal plans.
- Allowance Approval Process
Supervisors and appropriate senior staff members must approve cell phone allowances.
Approval for devices that include a data plan must also have the approval of the Chief
Information Technology Officer and the Financial Vice President & Treasurer and/or the
Provost and Dean of Faculty. The following criteria may serve as a guideline to identify an
employee’s need for a cell phone or device and therefore eligibility for the allowance:
Supervisors 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 or Data Service with Voice Allowance Request form should be
submitted to the Accounting Office for review and processing.
- Safety requirements indicate having a cell phone or device is an integral part of
meeting the requirements of the job description
- More than 50% of work is conducted off campus
- Required to be contacted on a regular basis outside normal work hours
- Required to be on-call (24/7)
- Job requirements include critical university-wide decision making
- Termination of Existing University Mobile Accounts
During the transition to the new policy, Colgate will be terminating all existing Colgate voice
and data plans except those noted below in section (H). Employees approved for an allowance
will have the opportunity to transport their Colgate mobile phone number to a private plan.
Any applicable fees associated with terminating University accounts will be paid by Colgate.
Colgate will not reimburse employees for early termination fees if employees decide, for
whatever reason, to cancel any existing personal accounts. Employees will be allowed to keep
the phone or device associated with their terminated university account.
- Plan Allowance
Employees will be responsible for choosing their own voice or data plan as well as their
carrier. Please note that only AT&T and Verizon provide reliable coverage in Hamilton.
Because the employee is now personally responsible for the account and the allowance
provided is taxable income, the employee may use the account for both business and personal
purposes. The employee may also, at his or her own expense, add extra services or equipment
features, as desired. The university does not accept any liability for claims, charges, or disputes
between the service provider and the faculty or staff member. Recipients of this allowance
must notify Colgate of the cell phone number and must continue to maintain the cell phone
or device while in receipt of the allowance.
Employees will also be responsible for choosing their own equipment. As described below,
there is no additional allowance for cell phones, since most carriers offer a number of phones
free in connection with a new service plan. Employees approved for a data plan will receive a
one-time reimbursement for the purchase of a device as described in section (E). Because the
employee is now personally responsible for the equipment, 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.
- Determination of Dollar Amount of Allowance
The dollar amount of the allowance should cover the employee's projected business-related
expenses. The allowance levels are the least expensive that provides adequate business-related
services. Determination of the dollar amount of the allowance is made at the department level,
but must be within the guidelines and dollar limits established under this policy.
|Minutes ||Monthly Payment ||One-Time Equipment* |
|450 ||$46 ||$0 |
Data Service with Voice
|Minutes ||Monthly Payment ||One-Time Equipment* |
|450 ||$91 ||$200 |
*The One-time equipment purchase is based on a two-year contract and is provided at time of new contract
(documentation required). Lost or broken equipment will be the responsibility of the employee after initial
Colgate will pay only the approved allowance amount even if actual monthly costs may
occasionally exceed the allowance. If the amount of the allowance subsidy needs to be
changed because of documented business purposes, you will need to ask your supervisor to
adjust the cell phone allowance and submit a new allowance form.
Charges to Colgate JPMorgan Chase corporate cards or departmental accounts will no longer be allowed
for monthly cell phone or device fees or for related equipment purchases.
- Support for Cell Phones or Devices
Support for cell phones and devices will be provided by the carrier. ITS may provide
consultation on the type of equipment to purchase, especially as it relates to devices that
enable e-mail and calendar support. Employees who are approved for a data service device
should go to computing.colgate.edu and click on the smartphone option for a list of devices
known to work with Colgate’s Exchange server for e-mail and calendar functions.
- Fees for Contract Changes or Cancellations
If a university or departmental decision results in the need to end or change the cell phone or
device contract, the University will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or
cancellation — for example, the employee's supervisor has changed the employee's duties and
the cell phone is no longer needed for business purposes. If the employee does not want to
retain the current contract by converting it to a personal account, change or cancellation fees
will be reimbursed by the department.
If prior to the end of the cell phone contract, a personal decision by the employee or employee
misconduct/misuse of the phone results in the need to end or change the cell phone or device
contract, the employee will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or
- Policy Exceptions
Colgate will continue to provide cell phones and devices to certain employees who require
specific equipment or similar technology to perform university functions (e.g., public safety,
physical plant, etc.) and never expect to use these phones for personal use. Exceptions must be
approved by the Chief Information Technology Officer, the Provost & Dean of the Faculty, and
the Financial Vice President & Treasurer. These “excepted employees” will be required to
submit to the Accounting Office monthly documentation in the form of a copy of their
respective phone usage logs, as shown in the monthly billing statement from the provider,
verifying business use. Immediate supervisors will be required to approve all charges,
attesting that all calls were business related, by initialing the copy of the usage logs. Failure to
keep current with this documentation requirement will result in the employee returning the
phone or device to the university.
Colgate 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. If a
personal call inadvertently occurs; restitution must be made to the university.
- Reimbursement for Business Calls on Personal Cell Phone
If a university employee's job duties do not include the frequent need for a cell phone, the
employee is not eligible for an allowance or a Colgate-provided cell phone. Such employees
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 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. Business calls while on campus should be made from traditional landline
phones and therefore will not be reimbursed if made on a personal cell phone.
- Cell Phone Usage while Driving
Use of a cellular telephone while operating a vehicle is illegal in New York as well as some
other states and should be avoided as a general practice even if features such as headsets or
voice activation are in use. If the driver must use a cell phone while driving on university
business, or while driving a Colgate-owned vehicle, he or she should stop safely and then make or
take the call. There is increasing evidence that the dangers associated with cell phone use
outweigh those of other distractions. Safety experts also acknowledge that the hazard posed by
cell phone conversations is not eliminated, and may even be increased, by the use of hands-free