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July 13, 2009

ATMEL TIMS Platform Ready to Handle IRS Cell Phone Regulations

By Tim Gray, TMCnet Web Editor

A 20-year-old law requiring companies to monitor usage of employer-provided cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) for federal tax reasons, has enterprises, politicians and even possibly the IRS looking to ways to overturn or simplify the often flouted rules.
According to federal regulations, the 1989 law says employees must keep records of each call, the time it is made and its business purpose. As of today, the government requires these calls to be itemized on a monthly statement and identified as personal or business, ultimately being reported to the IRS.
Tomorrow, or the near future at least, the legal implications may be different. That’s because the incredible growth of these devices over the past 20 years – the use of cell phones is much more widespread and economical today and many corporate employees are kept tethered to work on a 24/7 basis through the devices – that forcing compliance is has become practically unmanageable.
In fact, the taxation, and the possibility of increased enforcement is finding opponents in just about every corner.
For starters, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Finance Committee, recently renewed his call to end an antiquated cell phone tax.
Sen. Kerry called the law obsolete and said it is unrealistic to require employers to constantly maintain detailed logs of all employee calls, text messages, and e-mails given the demand for instant communication that has saturated the market.
“Ten years is a lifetime in terms of the history of cell phone use," said Sen. Kerry in a statement. "We need to modernize the laws to reflect the reality that cell phones, Blackberrys and text messaging are an everyday extension of the workplace and are here to stay.”
Although IRS officials were on their heels after it came to light the agency was having a closer look at ways to better enforce the tax code, they having seeming shifted the initial stance after pressure for politicians and even Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
"The current law, which has been on the books for many years, is burdensome, poorly understood by taxpayers, and difficult for the IRS to administer consistently," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. "Some have incorrectly implied that the IRS is 'cracking down' on employee use of employer-provided cell phones. To the contrary, the IRS is attempting to simplify the rules and eliminate uncertainty for businesses and individuals."
PJ Gupta CEO at Amtel (News - Alert), said his company is watching the developments very closely to help clients on which ever method IRS proposes to satisfy the reporting requirements for cell phones usage.

"Many proposals mentioned by IRS are already built in our TIMS platform since we have been actively working with large corporate clients for split billing and mobile policies" said PJ Gupta CEO at Amtel.
The California-based company provides a platform for centralized order management of all types of telecommunication services like Mobile, Pagers, Calling cards, Conferencing accounts, Voice lines and Data circuits while maintaining Sarbanes Oxley spend allocation compliance.
Amtel’s Telecom Information Management System (TIMS) platform, which is used by enterprises to track and control fixed-line spend and also for wireless management.

Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray

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