Mobile Plan and Device Allowance
About This Policy
- Effective Date:
See current policy
- Date of Last Review/Update:
- Responsible University Office:
- Financial Management Services
- Responsible University Administrator:
- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
- Policy Contact:
Associate Vice President and University Controller
Office of Financial Management Services
- Policy Feedback:
- If you have comments or questions about this policy, let us know with the policy feedback form.
- Print or view a PDF of this policy
- Many policies are quite lengthy. Please check the page count before deciding whether to print.
University employees required to use their personal mobile device(s) for university business purposes may receive a non-taxable allowance within approved ranges, subject to unit approval. The allowance serves to cover the business use of the employee’s personal mobile plan, mobile device(s) and/or accessories (excluding laptops). The employee is responsible for replacing, and for the cost of replacing, any personal mobile devices that are lost, stolen, damaged, or malfunctioning.
Executive leadership of each University unit, in consultation with the unit’s Fiscal Officer, must review and approve annually the amount and business purpose of the allowance provided pursuant to this policy. Responsibility Centers are accountable for their prudent use of university resources and establishing robust review procedures. Termination of the allowance is required if the business purpose no longer exists or the employee is no longer maintaining an appropriate mobile plan and device. Funds from Indiana University Foundation Accounts may not be used for allowances provided pursuant to this policy.
To initiate such an allowance, the unit’s Fiscal Officer and the relevant employee must fill out and sign the Mobile Use Attestation Form. The Fiscal Officer will maintain each Mobile Use Attestation Form and documentation of any changes to the allowance amount.
University units may provide employees a non-taxable allowance of $50, $100, or $150 per month, for the business use of their personal mobile plans, devices, and accessories. The amount of allowance the employee receives should be commensurate with the unit’s business needs, the position requirements, and the employee’s cost for his/her mobile plan, devices, and accessories. Please note that if an employee receives an allowance amount that exceeds the expenses the employee incurs for his/her mobile plan, devices, and accessories, the portion of the allowance exceeding those expenses may be taxable, and the employee may need to report that amount on his or her personal tax return.
All employees who use mobile devices for university business must comply with the University’s IT-12.1 Mobile Device Security Standard, and with applicable University policies, including Security of Information Technology Resources, IT-12.
No employee or unit, except Procurement Services, may act on behalf of the University to extend existing University mobile contracts or to enter into any new University contracts with mobile phone companies.
Some organizations have multiple staff sharing a single device for on-call rotations or other business purposes. A number of shared or group devices will remain available via University contracts. Employees shall minimize non-business use of these devices.
The following are excluded from this policy if acquired through Procurement Services:
- Two-way radios
- Mobile devices and internet access acquired for testing by University Information Technology Services (UITS)
- One-time purchases of international phones
- Purchases of plans and devices that will be used as research devices for an organized research project
University employees who require internet access for business purposes while traveling will be reimbursed for these charges through the standard Travel reimbursement process so long as such charges are for short-term internet services and are submitted as part of a lodging receipt. The University will not reimburse employees for roaming charges. To avoid roaming charges, employees should add international calling plans before beginning international business travel.
The following are expenses that are not allowed to be reimbursed through Travel:
- GPS units
- Pre-paid phone cards
- Pre-paid mobile devices
- International devices
An item listed above may be acquired via a purchase order (PO) provided the item will be used for a bona fide business purpose. Similarly, an expense incurred for an item listed above that is a bona fide business expense, and documented as such, is potentially reimbursable via a disbursement voucher (DV). Object code 4083 is the appropriate object code for this expense.
Contracts and Grants Considerations:
On federal or federal pass through Contract and Grant accounts, only shared or group devices may be purchased. For the cost of a mobile device or mobile plan to be considered an allocable expense on non-federal or non-federal pass through Contract and Grant accounts, the use of the mobile device must be fully devoted to the project, necessary for the project, and included in the approved budget. In cases where an expense is not in the approved budget, such an expense will not be allowable unless approved by Contract and Grant Administration. The bona-fide business purpose documentation must be approved annually by Contract and Grant Administration in order for the expenses to be allocable to a Contract and Grant Account.
The overall purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to units seeking to have faculty or staff use personal mobile devices and plans in the conduct of Indiana University business.
Reason for Policy
Mobile devices and Internet access have become commonplace, are readily available, and are convenient to use for University business. The use of mobile devices and Internet access for business purposes can be expensive and the decision to incur such business expenses must be evaluated from a cost/benefit perspective. Organizations must consider other viable options such as a landline phone, University Internet access, pagers or other less expensive communication devices.
Allowances for business use of personal mobile plans, devices, and/or accessories, are to be made to employees via the payroll system using the Additional Pay edoc with Earnings Code DVA.
Base salaries should not be adjusted to accommodate these expenses. Additional pay is the appropriate process to be used for this purpose. Further, since this additional pay is non-taxable, units may no longer gross up payments made pursuant to this policy.
The offices of campus Human Resources or Academic Affairs approve Additional Pay documents. Each unit’s executive leadership and Fiscal Officer are responsible for ensuring that the allowance is being provided for an appropriate business purpose and for verifying that the amount of the allowance is reasonable.
Executive Leadership: The director or vice president for an administrative unit, the chair or dean of an academic unit, or the vice-chancellor of administrative services or finance on a regional campus, or their delegate.
Mobile Devices: Devices with mobile access plans for connection, such as mobile phones and tablets.
The Business Purpose for a mobile device is one where:
- The University or University unit needs to be able to contact the employee at all times for work-related emergencies;
- The employee must be accessible outside of normal business hours;
- The nature of the employee’s position requires work at multiple or unfixed physical locations;
- The employee does not have access to a landline or other communication device when doing a substantial portion of his or her job (defined as at least 75% of the time the employee must be accessible by the institution);
- The use of other less expensive communication devices does not serve as a viable alternative to meet the business purpose;
- The employee’s job effectiveness will show a significant increase through the use of a mobile device; or,
- A group of employees has the need for group or shared devices for purposes such as rotating on-call contact.