Cell Phone Policy

Cell Phone Policy

For college-owned and personal cell phones. 

Cell Phone Allowance Request Form



The IRS considers cell phones to be "listed property". As such, the IRS requires detailed recordkeeping, 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 College required to comply with these regulations is excessively burdensome; therefore Saint Mary’s College is converting to a program where each eligible employee will receive a taxable allowance for an individually owned cell phone service. This change eliminates the detailed IRS documentation requirement. Additionally, the number and variety of cell phones and "smart" phones, each with differing voice and data plans, has expanded greatly. Employees have often expressed preferences that differ from the College's standard phones and plans, and some employees have needs that are not effectively met by those standards.


Effective July 1st, 2010, the College will no longer own cellular devices and provide them to employees whose jobs require them, or pay vendors directly for cellular service. Rather, for authorized employees, the College will pay a monthly taxable allowance sufficient to cover the business use of personal cell phones.

  1. The monthly allowance will be granted to employees whose jobs require that they work outside their offices, or whose jobs require that they be available during non-work hours or when they are away from campus. In some cases, particular job requirements may also call for a mobile device capable of accessing the web. In those cases, the allowance will be increased to cover business use of the basic data plan available with the employee's service. The employee's supervisor, in consultation with the employee, will determine the appropriate level of service and allowance to request. The allowance does not constitute an increase in the employee's base pay, and so will not be used in calculating percentage increases for annual raises or reclassifications, or for calculating employer pension contributions.
  2. Employees receiving the allowance must list their cell phone numbers with their supervisors and other relevant College officials, or purchase a separate cell service for business purposes and provide the College with that number.
  3. Allowances will be charged against the Department’s annual operating budget. Allowances will be reviewed annually to determine if the employee’s job requirements have changed.
  4. Equipment service and problems will be handled directly by the cellular vendor, not the College, and the employee will be responsible for any damage or loss of equipment, including that purchased with an equipment allowance. Because the equipment and service plan will be owned by the employee, employees may purchase enhanced equipment or services as they wish, and use the equipment for personal purposes as much as they wish.
  5. If job requirements indicate that the employee may need to be available by cell phone while on campus, s/he must purchase a plan from a cellular vendor that provides adequate coverage on campus. Currently, Sprint and T-mobile provide the best on-campus coverage because they have cell towers on campus. Coverage by all other carriers is quite spotty and may be inadequate to meet job requirements.
  6. If an employee’s job duties do not include the frequent need for a cell phone, s/he is not eligible for an allowance. 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 employee 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 land-line phones and therefore will not be reimbursed if made on a personal cell phone.
  7. If business use of the cellular device exceeds the allowance in any particular month, the employee may request reimbursement up to the total overage charges shown on the invoice, provided that the employee can document the business use of the device.
  8. In the interest of the safety of our employees and other drivers, the College requires employees to comply with all applicable rules while driving.
  9. The College may choose to provide special cellular or radio equipment or services to employees in some departments where job requirements call for them to use particular equipment or to communicate using text messaging and data.


By July 1st of each year, eligible employees should submit the attached Cell Phone Allowance Request Form to their supervisors for signature. In consultation with the supervisor, the employee should document on the form all the specific job requirements that create the need for a cell phone and/or data allowance:

Cell Phones

  • Job or safety requirements which indicate that having a cell phone or device is an integral part of meeting the requirements of the job description
  • The employee's job requires that a significant portion of his/her work (e.g. more than 50%) be conducted outside of the employee’s office.
  • The job requires that the employee be contacted on a regular basis outside normal work hours
  • The employee is required to be on-call (24/7)
  • Job requirements include critical university-wide decision making
  • The employee has a critical role in the incident management process that requires 24/7 availability to respond to emergencies

Mobile Data

  • Job requires significant travel on College business where mobile internet and email accessibility are necessary for particular job functions
  • Job requires the employee to be outside the office in situations where mobile internet and email access are necessary for particular job functions
Plan   Annual Monthly Bi-Weekly    
Basic Cell Phone and Text Services   $600 $50 $23.08    
Voice and Data Services   $840 $70 $32.31