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Main Campus Cell Phone Service Reimbursement Program; FY18

UNM Main Campus employees (faculty or staff) who require a cellular telephone in order to perform their duties may, with approval of their Dean or Director, receive a monthly payment of $40 (or less if determined appropriate per departmental budgetary needs) from the University to reimburse them for business usage of their personal cell phone.  The payment is only intended to help offset the employee’s cost associated with using their cell phone for UNM business, not to pay the entire phone bill. The procedures described in this document must be followed in order to receive reimbursement under this program. 

  • Before receiving reimbursement under this program, if the employee currently has a UNM-provided cell phone, the phone must be turned in, and the service terminated.  Contact IT Customer Support Services at 7-5757 for assistance or questions.
  • In addition, the employee’s cell phone number must be made public in some manner, such as by posting in the UNM Directory, to assist those trying to reach the employee who is receiving a cell phone reimbursement for business usage.

The Dean or Director must determine what type of plan or level of service is required in the performance of an employee’s duties. The determination should include considering the appropriate number of plan minutes, long distance calling options, data plans, and other plan features that are required for the performance of the employee’s job responsibilities. An employee receiving a cell phone reimbursement must make the personally owned device available for business use as required by the department.  An employee receiving a reimbursement must maintain active cell phone service.  The employee agrees to carry the cell phone with them and keep it charged and in operating condition based on departmental requirements.  The employee agrees to use the phone in a manner consistent with University policy and all applicable local, state or federal laws.  Inappropriate or unlawful use of the cell phone and its services and features is prohibited.  Phone misuse will result in immediate cancellation of the cell phone reimbursement agreement.

The employee is responsible for obtaining a device and monthly plan that, at a minimum, meets the level of service required by the department.  The employee owns the device; therefore it may be used for personal and business purposes, but must be available for the performance of work responsibilities as designated by the department. UNM will not pay for the cost of the cellular device, related supplies, or insurance.  The employee may obtain a more robust plan if needed for personal use, but will only receive the designated monthly reimbursement amount of up to $40 for business use. Payment of bills for the cellular plan and device are the responsibility of the individual, not the department.

The department is responsible for ensuring that the employee has an active cell phone, and for obtaining and retaining the required documentation (statement of account showing that the employee has active service).

The monthly reimbursement amount for FY18 may not exceed forty dollars ($40).  The University Controller will determine, on an annual basis, whether the available reimbursement amount needs to be revised.

CELL PHONE REIMBURSEMENT IS NOT ALLOWED ON RESTRICTED CONTRACT AND GRANT FUNDING, HOWEVER IT MAY BE ALLOWED AS A DIRECT CHARGE.  Please contact the Contract & Grant accounting office to determine if cellular phone expenses are allowed as a direct charge on your restricted contract or grant.

Reimbursement Guidelines:

The employee that is to receive the reimbursement, and their Dean or Director, must sign the “Personal Cell Phone Service Reimbursement Agreement” that justifies the business need for a cell phone, and outlines the requirements that the employee will obtain a phone and service plan that meets department requirements, and make it available when needed (as defined by the department, i.e., for on call use). 

Reimbursement is to be requested via Chrome River Expense (“Telecomm” Payment type under “Employee Other”). Select account code 6080 for the charge.  A copy of the signed “Personal Cell Phone Service Reimbursement Agreement” MUST be submitted in Chrome River with the payment request, and the employee seeking reimbursement, and their supervisor, as required by policy, must also approve the request in Chrome River.  DO NOT attach a copy of the cell phone bill to the payment request.

To satisfy the requirements of UNM policy, and also to meet IRS accountable plan requirements, reimbursement requests should be submitted on a monthly basis.  Due to different billing cycles of the various service providers, reimbursement requests are intended to follow calendar months only.  Each reimbursement request must clearly state the calendar month represented, and may NOT be submitted until after the end of that calendar month.  Any month’s request not received in Unrestricted Accounting by the last day of the second succeeding calendar month will be considered additional taxable income, in compliance with accountable plan requirements. 

Reimbursements meeting the requirements of this document are treated as non-taxable payments to the employee, per IRS guidance.  However, it is imperative that it can be clearly shown that the payments are “non-compensatory” in nature; that is, the payment MAY NOT represent additional compensation to the employee.  There must be a clearly documented departmental REQUIREMENT for the employee to be reachable via cell phone for substantial business reasons, in order for the payment to be considered a non-taxable reimbursement.  The reimbursement amount established for a particular employee may not exceed $40 per month as documented herein, and additionally, must be reasonably calculated so as not to exceed expenses the employee actually incurred in maintaining the cell phone.  Non-exempt employees are not eligible for the reimbursement.

An employee receiving a reimbursement for their personal cell phone plan must be able to produce additional documentation concerning their bill, if and when requested.  In order to validate that the employee still has active cell phone service, a copy of the detailed cell phone bill should be provided to the department, and a new “Personal Cell Phone Service Reimbursement Agreement” should be executed at the beginning of every fiscal year.

Reimbursement of Other Specific Charges:

As specified above, reimbursement for equipment, accessories, supplies or insurance is not allowed.  However, if an employee, incurs specific usage charges for business purposes, those charges may be separately reimbursed whether or not the employee also receives a monthly reimbursement under this program.  Typically these types of costs might be incurred in association with business travel, particularly overseas.  An employee who will be traveling overseas on behalf of UNM should check with their service provider before leaving to determine what options are available to help minimize additional costs.  These costs may be claimed for reimbursement on a Travel Reimbursement request in Chrome River, along with other costs incurred for a UNM business purpose, when appropriately explained and documented.