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Rice University General Policy No. 831-96

 

PERSONAL USE OF UNIVERSITY PROPERTY  

APPLIES TO ALL RICE UNIVERSITY FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS  

Property other than automobiles  

Property owned by the university is intended to be used for university business purposes only. This includes telephones, copiers, fax machines, printers and other equipment provided in the workplace, as well as computers, cellular phones, pagers and any other equipment which may be in the employee's custody outside the workplace.

In the event of occasional personal use which results in additional cost to the university (copying, personal cellular phone calls), the employee must reimburse the university for the additional costs incurred. Personal long distance calls should be placed from university phones only under unusual circumstances; when such calls are necessary, they should normally be charged to a personal credit card.

Because of IRS regulations, special rules apply to university property in the custody of an employee. Normally, only very minor personal use incidental to business purposes is allowed. Exceptions to this policy may only be granted by the Vice President for Finance and Administration; the employee must provide a written justification when requesting the exception. If the request is approved, the employee must track the amount of personal use and report it to the Controller's Office annually, so that the value may be added to the employee's W-2 as a taxable fringe benefit.

Automobiles  

Detailed IRS regulations apply to the use of university automobiles. Therefore, for all automobiles and other vehicles owned by, leased by, or lent to the University, the following rules will be observed:

1. Personal use of University automobiles is a taxable fringe benefit and an appropriate amount will be included in the gross income of each employee receiving this benefit.

2. Unless special arrangements are made with the University Risk Manager, University automobiles must be removed from the campus at night. As a result, employees using University automobiles are required to commute to and from work.

3. Personal use must be limited to commuting and de minimus personal use (such as a stop for a personal errand between a business trip and the employee's home). Exceptions to this policy must be requested in writing from the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

4. Record keeping requirements are detailed in the procedures document. Employees in possession of university vehicles will be classified in one of two categories:

 

a) Category I employees are those who are not officers of the University, whose salary is under $100,000, who have a valid business reason for having a university automobile, and whose personal use is limited to commuting and de minimus personal use.

b) Category II employees are those who are university officers, those whose salary exceeds $100,000, those who do not have a valid business reason for having a university automobile, or those who have been authorized to use a university vehicle for personal use. Any employee who does not meet all four tests for Category I is a Category II employee.

5. The amount added to income for each class of employee will be determined as specified in the IRS regulations. The university has elected not to withhold federal income tax on this income; therefore, the employee is responsible for insuring that his/her withholding and estimated tax payments are adequate to avoid penalties and interest for underpayments. On the final paycheck of each calendar year, FIC and FIM (formerly FICA) will be deducted as applicable.

Special Accounting Period  

In accordance with IRS regulations, the University has elected to adopt a special accounting period for purposes of calculating the amount which will be added to income for personal use of university property. All reporting will be based on a year which begins November 1 and ends October 31. Income for this period will be added to the employee's W-2 in December of the year in which the reporting period ends.

Policy No. 831-96
October 3, 1996