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University Policy 68

Cellular Phones

Initially approved June 1, 1999
Revised: March 13, 2000
Revised June 17, 2009
Administering Office: Administration and Finance Office


Business use of Mobile Communication Devices (MCDs) can be paid by an employer for an employee according to the Regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 162. Cell phones (including cell phones with two-way communication capability), Blackberries and other PDAs, pagers, wireless cards, and any other mobile communication devices are all included in “MCDs”.

Because tax law requires that each employee maintain a log documenting every incoming and outgoing business call (including the call’s business purpose), in order for reimbursement to be “tax free,” and given the profusion of MCDs today (WCU currently has 126 MCD’s deployed), such detailed recordkeeping is simply not practical. In order to treat employees fairly and avoid these prohibitive IRS requirements, Western Carolina University (WCU) will offer four (4) different MCD options to employees. The choice of these options shall be based on the employee’s business need for a cell phone, PDA or other communication device.

The policy would authorize appropriate Western Carolina University employees to receive a set allowance for the use of a personal MCD in the execution of duties associated with employment thereby eliminating the need for a University provided MCD. A mobile communication device is defined as any wireless electronic device used for contacting or communicating with WCU personnel and includes pagers, mobile phones, Blackberries, and devices similar to the Blackberry. With appropriate approvals, departments could pay a monthly allowance to designated employee(s) to offset only part of the cost of owning a personal MCD for WCU business purposes. The purpose of this program is to allow approved University employees an allowance for the use of their personal MCD’s to conduct official University business. The employee would be compensated per pay period for the use of his/her personal MCD.


Western Carolina University provides services to a dynamic population of faculty, staff and students on a continuing basis. To ensure services are uninterrupted, certain employees are often required to be immediately accessible by MCD when out of the work area. To ensure continuity of service, supervisors are authorized to allow designated employees to utilize personal MCD’s. This enables departments to maintain contact throughout both business and non-business hours (emergency purposes in evenings or on weekends.)

Due to the nature of their business, some departments may need to maintain a University-owned MCD. These may either be permanently assigned to an individual or used as a “Convenience MCD”. The Convenience MCD is typically treated as a floating MCD not permanently assigned to an individual. (For example: an on-call cellular telephone with a published number in case of a network outage.) Convenience devices will be maintained by the appropriate departments and passed around as needed to conduct university business. These convenience devices may be paid for from state funds or non-state funds. Convenience phone bills will be reviewed and approved by designated supervisors on a monthly basis. Personal calls are strictly prohibited on convenience phones except due to emergency circumstances; in such emergency circumstances, any ensuing charges will be owed by the employee to the university.

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