Payment of Telework or Remote-Work Expenses

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University Policy Number 2113

Categorized:

Responsible Office: ,

Policy Procedure:

  • N/A

Related Law & Policy:


I. SCOPE

This policy applies to all George Mason   University units and  all faculty, classified, and non-student wage  employees at all locations. Provisions of this policy are applicable to  payments made by George Mason University or by the George Mason University  Foundation, Inc. to or on behalf of University employees.

Payments made by the George Mason University  Foundation, Inc. to or on behalf of University employees are subject to IRS compensation rules, because such payments are  considered to be made in connection with University employment for tax  purposes. Therefore, the Foundation follows this policy for purposes of payment  or reimbursement of the costs described herein.

II. POLICY STATEMENT

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that telework  or remote-work expenses paid by George   Mason University  are justifiable and that the University complies with federal income tax rules  applicable to payment of expenses necessary to perform the requirements of an  employee’s position from an alternate location.

Telework or remote-work costs must be  consistent with the employee’s work requirements and telework or remote work agreement.  Different faculty contracts or employee work profiles and different telework or  remote-work arrangements may produce different expense justifications.

A signed telework or  remote-work agreement must be on file in Human Resources before telework or  remote-work costs may be paid or reimbursed, except for instructional faculty  and members of the President’s Council, whose job responsibilities naturally  include an expectation of teleworking. The flexibility provided by voluntary  teleworking or remote working is viewed as having a personal work/life benefit  to the employee, a business benefit to the University and an environmental benefit  to the region. The University accrues benefits through reduced traffic  congestion and reduced demand for parking. Savings in commuting time and costs accrue  to the employee, generally rendering financial reimbursement unnecessary.

Telework or remote-work expenses paid or reimbursed by  the University must be fully supported by a sound business case. Written justification  must be included with all payment or reimbursement requests. Factors to  consider include personal convenience, telework frequency, contract or EWP  requirements, actual connectivity costs, and proportion of business versus  personal use.

Subject to the documentation criteria outlined in this  policy, payment or reimbursement for the following  expenses is allowable:

  • Office supplies and  operating expenses supporting University owned equipment such as  personal computers, communications devices or other necessary telework or  remote-work equipment.
  •       A single telephone  service connection for each employee for either University owned or  employee-owned telephone equipment.  This  includes connectivity services or fees (including activation fees) for cell or  land-line telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and similar  communication devices.
  • A single internet service  connection for each employee for either University owned or employee-owned  computing equipment. Connectivity services or fees (including activation fees)  include cable broadband, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL),  dial-up modem access, and similar communication services. Where internet or  telephone services are bundled with  non-business-related costs (e.g., cable and FIOS TV), the original service  provider invoice must show the charges for each service separately in order to  determine the amount to be paid. Where discounts are provided for bundled  services the pro-rata share of the discount should be applied to the allowable  payment.
  • A nominal flat monthly or annual connectivity allowance may be paid to teleworking or  remote working employees to compensate for employee-incurred telework or remote  work connectivity expenses supporting employee-owned or University owned  equipment such as cell phones and computers. The amount of the allowance must  be determined by a documented methodology with appropriate consideration to all  of the justification factors outlined in this telework expense policy.  Allowances may not be advance-paid and must be re-evaluated in writing every 12  months.

The  following telework or remote work expenses are prohibited:

  • Private worksite or  employee home expenses such as utilities, insurance, home maintenance,  home modification for office purposes or other similar personal expenses.
  • Purchase costs or  maintenance expenses associated with employee-owned telephones, cell  phones, facsimile (fax) machines, printers, computers, paper shredders and  similar devices and equipment. The University uses state contracts to purchase  cell phones and PDAs for business use only. University owned equipment may be  deployed for telework or remote-work use, subject to University Policy 2104: Inventory Control of Office and Educational Equipment and Furniture.
  • Advance payment  reimbursements for allowable connectivity services. While many internet  service providers require payment in advance of receiving the service, the University  may only reimburse employees for these services after the services have been  received. Advance payments made directly are allowable when required by the  service provider.

III. DEFINITIONS

Remote Work: A work  arrangement where an employee spends most or all of his/her working hours  outside of the traditional place of work. Remote workers differ from  teleworkers in that they work from their home located far enough away from a University   campus that commuting on a daily basis is not possible, or their position is  designed for off-site work. Visits to the campus are infrequent but may be  regularly scheduled.

Telework:
A work arrangement  where an employee of the University works at an approved alternate work site  for an agreed period of time, with most of the work week spent at a University  work site.

IV. RESPONSIBILITIES

Faculty,  classified and non-student wage employees: Faculty, classified and  non-student employees who request payment or reimbursement are responsible for  submitting requests for payment that are in compliance with this policy.

Supervisors:  Supervisors are responsible for analyzing  payment justification to ensure the payment is necessary and a sound business  case is documented before approving requests for payment or reimbursement.

Payroll:
The  Payroll Office is responsible for processing connectivity allowances and interpreting  IRS rules related to taxable employee  compensation.  The Payroll Office is  available to answer questions related to the potential taxability of payment of  telework or remote work expenses.

Accounts Payable:
Accounts  Payable is responsible for reviewing requests for payment or reimbursement to  comply with this policy.

George  Mason University Foundation, Inc.:
The George Mason University Foundation,  Inc. is responsible for reviewing all requests for payment to comply with this  policy.


V. TAXABLE  FRINGE BENEFIT

Telephone or cell phone  connectivity costs paid directly or reimbursed to the employee are  generally considered to be a taxable fringe benefit according to guidance  provided in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  “Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide Publication 15-B”.  Connectivity costs may be reimbursed only when supported by  an itemized list of telephone calls included in the  billing period.  The business purpose of each call must be  documented.  Reimbursement  for data charges on a cell phone  or PDA will follow the business percentage   of voice charges incurred during the billing period.

Internet connectivity  costs paid directly by the University that are used with personal equipment or  reimbursed to the employee are generally considered by the IRS to be a taxable fringe benefit. Under IRS regulations, there is no practical way to  account for, or limit, the use of internet connectivity provided directly to  the employee’s home or alternate work location.

Air cards and associated monthly service fees  paid for University owned laptops are not considered a taxable fringe benefit  to the employees who use this connectivity product.

Connectivity allowances  are considered by the IRS to be a  taxable fringe benefit. The University must report such allowances as taxable  income to the employee.

VI. EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPROVAL

The policies herein are effective January 1, 2009 and were revised March 15, 2009. This policy  shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually to become effective at  the beginning of the University’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.

Approved:

_______________________
Maurice W. Scherrens
Senior Vice President

________________________
Peter N. Stearns
Provost

Date approved: October 31, 2008
Revision Approved: March 12, 2009