1269 - Mobile Device Stipend Policy


To govern the use of mobile devices by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill employees and to provide guidelines, criteria and conditions for mobile devices in order to comply with IRS regulations and meet the University's fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the State of North Carolina. To comply with the provisions of Office of State Budget and Management Policy 6.3 - Internal Business Controls for Telephone and Mobile Devices.

Policy Statement

For the purpose of this policy, mobile devices are defined as cellular ("cell", "mobile", or "wireless") telephones and other devices that allow for mobile communication.

This policy permits the University to issue a monetary stipend to select employees who meet the policy criteria pertaining to the use of mobile devices for University business purposes. If the University department requires the employee to carry a mobile device to perform his/her duties, the employee, with the approval of the supervisor and/or administrative department head, will obtain a personally-owned mobile device and service plan. The University does not purchase or reimburse employees for personal mobile devices or provide mobile contracts to employees.

The stipend (Mobile Device-$35 for voice only plan, Mobile Device-$70 for voice and data plan) will be included in the employee's paycheck and reported on the employee's W-2. The stipend is subject to all regular payroll taxes, but will not be included in the employee's retirement computation. Beginning or changing a mobile device plan must be completed within ConnectCarolina using the Lump Sum ePAR.

Each department is strongly encouraged to review the necessity of mobile devices, and to select alternative means of communication when such alternatives would provide adequate service and be more cost effective. Below are some suggested criteria for determining eligibility for the stipend.

  1. The job function of the employee requires considerable time away from his/her assigned work area or office and it is important to the department function that he/she is accessible during those times.
  2. The job function of the employee requires him/her to be accessible outside of normal working hours.
  3. The job function of the employee requires him/her to have wireless data or Internet access at all times.
  4. The employee is designated as a "first responder" or "critical" employee.

Recipients of a University mobile device stipend have the following responsibilities:

  1. Negotiating and managing a personal cell phone contract. Each employee is free to select the service provider, plan, and features of his/her choice that meet the job responsibilities as determined by the department.
  2. Assuming all charges associated with the cellular service and device including lost, damaged, or stolen equipment and accessories.
  3. Ensuring the carrier selected has service in required usage areas, such as on campus and/or at home as required by the department.
  4. Establishing himself/herself as the billing party. Regardless of cost, the employee is responsible for any additional expenses above the University stipend.
  5. Maintaining an active service contract for the duration of the stipend.
  6. Notifying the department business manager immediately if the eligibility criteria are no longer met, if service is canceled, or when the phone number, carrier, or plan eligibility changes.
  7. If requested, employees must provide within three business (3) days of a request from the University's Public Records Officer, billing statements related to University business conducted with an employee-owned mobile device. Prior to providing such statements the employee may redact information related to personal calls, text messages or emails. Billing statements reflecting University business must be retained for a period of three (3) closed fiscal years.
  8. If requested, Each fiscal year employees must provide within three business (3) days of a request from the department chair (or designee) or Payroll Services, documentation such as an annual contract or a monthly billing statement in order to substantiate that the employee's monetary stipend does not exceed expenses the employee actually incurs in maintaining the mobile device.
  9. Ensuring that the mobile device and associated service are not excluded per the Exclusions set forth below.

Departments with employees who receive a monetary stipend for a mobile device have the following responsibilities:

  1. Upon the request of Payroll Services, collect documentation such as an annual contract or a monthly billing statement from each employee who receives a monetary stipend for a mobile device.
  2. Upon the request of Payroll Services, provide a list of employees who receive a monetary stipend that exceeds the expenses the employee actually incurs. The list shall include employee name, monetary stipend, and the amount of expense incurred.


Federal grants and/or sponsored projects may not be used to pay the stipend for a mobile device unless specifically allowed by the granting agency. The Mobile Device justification form must be approved by the Office of Sponsored Research prior to submitting to Payroll Services.



Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is my mobile device stipend taxable?
A: The stipend amount is taxable income because you will not be required to provide detailed documentation of your business calls or reimburse the University for any personal calls. It is possible that the stipend will not cover your complete business usage. In that event, you should be able to claim the remainder as a business deduction on your personal tax return. Check with your tax preparer in the event of new or changed filing rules.

Q: Will the taxable stipend be used to calculate my retirement or other benefits?
A: No. Although the stipend will be paid to you as additional salary, it will not be used to determine University retirement coverage or other benefits.

Q: The stipend I receive is not enough to cover my entire phone bill. May I request a reimbursement for the balance?
A: No. The intent of the stipend is to provide compensation for business-related activity on a personal mobile device without the user having to submit documentation for business-related calls. The allowance is not intended to cover personal use of the device.

Q: Why is a mobile device treated differently than my desk phone?
A: Because a mobile device is portable and may be taken off the employer's business premises, Congress established the detailed business substantiation rules applicable to this equipment and similar devices. The business use rules that apply to equipment intended to stay in your office, such as a desk phone, are less restrictive.

Q: Does everyone get a taxable allowance for a personally-owned mobile device?
A: No. You should only receive an allowance if your department requires that you carry a mobile device.

Q: How does the department manager decide who needs a mobile device?
A: The following are factors considered:

  • Travel (out of office on a weekly basis)
  • Types of calls made
  • Number of business calls on a weekly basis
  • Need to be available (for emergencies or decision making)
  • Coordination between work sites
  • Lack of available land lines

Q: My stipend request was denied. I need a mobile device to do my job. How can I get the stipend approved?
A: Approval or denial of the stipend is subject to your chain of command - your supervisor, his or her supervisor, etc. Stipends are not an inherent right simply because you were provided a phone previously. You need to discuss the issue with your supervisor to determine why the stipend was denied.

Q: I have a personally-owned mobile device and I want to terminate my service contract. Who is liable for the termination fees?
A: For personally-owned devices, the employee is fully responsible for paying the monthly bill plus additional charges, including termination fees.

Q: Will the University reimburse me for the purchase of my phone?
A: No. The intent of the stipend is to provide compensation for business-related activity on a personal mobile device without the user having to submit documentation for business-related calls, not to cover purchase expense.

Q: Does the mobile device stipend automatically terminate when the employee leaves the department or ends employment with the University?
A: No, the department will need to enter a remedy ticket for the termination action for the mobile device stipend. If the employee is transferring to another department then the new employing department shall submit a remedy ticket with the new combo code or chartfield string.


Related Data


Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Mobile Device Stipends Payroll Services 919-962-0047   payroll@unc.edu



  • March 5, 2019: incorporated PRC edits.
  • February 26, 2019: Removed reference to MCD per comments, also removed two sentences for funding changes and terminations; these instance referenced in procedure.
  • February 6, 2019: Added section pertaining to change of accounts.
  • January 15, 2019: removed special situation section as it deals with University Owned Mobile Devices and is not applicable to the Mobile Device Stipend for employees.
  • November 12, 2018: updated terminology and removed outdated material.
  • October 8,2018: added allowable amounts into document, also updated Purchasing Services to Payroll Services.
  • September 21, 2018: Updated format and terminology to reflect Mobile Device stipend payment.
  • March 4, 2015: Updated information in Policy Statement on form requirements for plan.
  • May 30, 2013: Added the requirement for an annual review of contract or bill.
  • April 5, 2011: Added OSR in Exclusions.
  • December 1, 2010


Article ID: 131452
Thu 4/8/21 9:09 PM
Tue 8/3/21 8:44 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
08/01/2021 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Payroll Services
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
08/01/2021 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
08/01/2021 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/31/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
12/01/2010 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget