CSU Policy: Commuting

Policy Title: Commuting Category: Finance
Owner: Vice President for University Operations Policy ID#: 2-6003-021
Contact:
Parking and Transportation Services
Web: http://parking.colostate.edu
Email: parking@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-7041

Also Contact:
Business and Financial Services
Web: http://busfin.colostate.edu/
Email: BFS_Webmaster@mail.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-1429
Original Effective Date: 4/1/2008
Last Revision: 7/14/2019
Print Version: Click Here to Print

PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY

Use of a university-owned vehicle for commuting to and from work is allowed under certain specified conditions with prior authorization and approval. Tax consequences to the employee may result. The purpose of this policy is to establish the rules and requirements for commuting to work using University-owned vehicles.

APPLICATION OF THIS POLICY

This policy applies to all employees of the University.

DEFINITIONS USED IN THIS POLICY

Official Work Station means the site to which the employee routinely reports in order to discharge officially assigned duties. In the event of multiple workstation assignments, the official workstation is the principal work location at which the employee receives instruction, direction, and official communications.

Taxable commuting means commuting for which value will be imputed as income to the commuter for tax purposes.

Non-taxable commuting means commuting for which value will not be imputed as income for tax purposes.

Senior administrator means a Department Head, Dean, Director, Assistant or Associate Vice President, or above.

POLICY STATEMENT

Commuting to work is at the expense of the employee unless an exception applies under this policy. Any time an employee is reimbursed for the cost of commuting, given a commuting allowance, or allowed to commute in a university vehicle, the value of the benefit to the employee must be imputed to the employee for tax purposes, unless a non-taxable commuting benefit is established. Except as authorized by this policy, university departments are prohibited from paying for an employee’s cost of commuting.

University vehicles may not be used for commuting or other personal use unless authorized by a responsible senior administrator and Parking & Transportation Services. Authorizations will be made on the basis of convenience to the University, the work function, the type of vehicle, and the type of commuting requested. Personal use of university vehicles is prohibited. Vehicles authorized for commuting will be returned to, and remain with, Transportation Services or the employee's department during periods of foreseeable non-use such as the commuter's use of annual leave or extended sick leave.

POLICY PROVISIONS

General Rules

  1. Use of a university-owned or leased vehicle for purposes of commuting is allowed only when the employee is required to commute to and/or from his or her official workstation for the convenience of the University and for bona fide non-compensatory business reasons. In other words, there must be a bona fide business reason for requiring the employee to use the vehicle to commute, beyond the convenience of the employee or the usual and ordinary need to travel to and from work. It must not be voluntary on the part of the employee.
  2. A bona fide business reason for commuting exists when it can be shown to the satisfaction of the senior administrator that the commuting: (i) is required for the university’s benefit; (ii) promotes a legitimate, nonpartisan, governmental interest of the university; (iii) promotes the efficient operation of the university motor vehicle system; and (iv) is cost-effective to the university.
  3. Additional rules and requirements for commuting may be provided by Business & Financial Services; see CSU Financial Rule 2 for further information.

Tax Considerations

Commuting to and from work using a university vehicle results in a taxable benefit to the employee unless an exception under the tax code applies. There are two exceptions that may apply:

  1. De minimis use: Non-taxable commuting may be approved by the employee’s supervisor who approves business travel, for the convenience of the University, when it is de minimisDe minimis commuting use occurs when, on occasion, an employee takes a university-owned motor vehicle home the evening prior to a planned business trip or the evening following an after-business-hours conclusion of a business trip and then returns it to Transportation Services or the responsible department the following business day, without any intervening personal use.
  2. Use of a qualified vehicle. Pursuant to IRS regulations, use of a "qualified nonpersonal-use vehicle," including commuting, is excludable from income to the employee. Reg. § 1.274-5T(k); Reg. § 1.132-5(h). A "qualified non-personal-use vehicle" is any vehicle the employee is not likely to use more than minimally for personal purposes because of its design.

Qualified non-personal-use vehicles include:

  • Clearly marked police and fire vehicles.
  • Unmarked vehicles used by law enforcement officers if the use is officially authorized. To qualify for non-taxable law enforcement commuting, the driver of an unmarked police vehicle must qualify as a peace officer as defined by 16-2.5-101 C.R.S. (2003).
  • Any vehicle designed to carry cargo with a loaded gross vehicle weight over 14,000 pounds.
  • Delivery trucks with seating for the driver only, or the driver plus a folding jump seat.
  • A passenger bus with a capacity of at least 20 passengers used for its specific purpose.
  • School buses.
  • Tractors and other special-purpose farm vehicles.
  • Pickup Trucks: A pickup truck with a loaded gross vehicle weight of 14,000 pounds or less is a qualified non-personal-use vehicle if it has been specially modified so it is not likely to be used more than minimally for personal purposes. For example, a pickup truck qualifies if it is clearly marked with permanently affixed decals, special painting, or other advertising associated with your trade, business, or function and is equipped with at least one of the following items:
    • A hydraulic lift gate.
    • Permanent tanks or drums.
    • Permanent sideboards or panels that materially raise the level of the sides of the truck bed.
    • Other heavy equipment (such as an electric generator, welder, boom, or crane used to tow automobiles and other vehicles).
  • Vans: A van with a loaded gross vehicle weight of 14,000 pounds or less is a qualified non-personal-use vehicle if it has been specially modified so it is not likely to be used more than minimally for personal purposes. For example, a van qualifies if it is clearly marked with permanently affixed decals, special painting, or other advertising associated with your trade, business, or function and has a seat for the driver only (or the driver and one other person) and either of the following items:
    • Permanent shelving that fills most of the cargo area.
    • An open cargo area and the van always carries merchandise, material, or equipment used in your trade, business, or function.

Taxable Value of Commuting Benefit

If an employee uses a university vehicle for personal purposes or commutes in a university vehicle in violation of this policy, a taxable benefit accrues to the employee. The value of the benefit is calculated at the rate established by the Internal Revenue Service for mileage reimbursements, see Publication 15B.

All commuting using a qualified non-personal use vehicle must be approved by a senior administrator.

REFERENCES

University Policy on University Vehicles

APPROVED

Original Effective Date 4/1/2008

Revision approved by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations on July 18, 2019.

 

Print Version: Click Here to Print

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