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Relocation Tax

Articles and updates on relocation tax issues.

Why Lump Sum is a Long Term “Slump”

Lump Sum Relocation PoliciesWith today’s new tax laws, the notion of cutting a check to a relocating employee to cover the relocation costs and reducing the amount of administrative work sounds like a reasonable plan. After all, now that just about every relocation expense is considered taxable income to an employee, you might as well cut a check and “gross it up” to help offset the employee’s tax liability.

However, there are three key reasons why lump sum programs will jeopardize your relocation program’s objectives.

Ongoing Administrative Adjustments

Once you figure out the amount that’s needed to move the employee, you just need to cut the check. Oh, wait a minute! That’s right, you need to figure out how to budget for specific transferee’s move. Then you need to research costs for the next regional move which is to a different location. OOPS! Don’t’ forget about the next move which is the same location as the first move, except now you are moving a family, and then the 4th move…. Ok, I think I made my point. If a company is using Lump Sum approaches, there needs to be ongoing research and adjustments to keep up to date on relocation costs so the company can distribute fair and reasonable amounts. Even if the corporation uses 3rd party services to provide the regional data, there is a significant amount of administrative work involved to update policies, manage the supplier relationships and consult with the transferees on the recommended use of their lump sum budget.

Loss of all Relocation Costs Data

Although Lump Sum programs give transferees full control of their funds and the flexibility to choose the benefits that are most needed, there is a price to be paid for not knowing how the funds are spent. As mentioned previously, understanding current relocation costs and trends help a company make future program adjustments. Without tracking systems or management of the lump sum spend, all knowledge about actual program costs will be lost.

In addition, as relocation programs continue to be evaluated in terms of performance, productivity and efficiency, there will not be enough adequate data available about how certain benefits may perform for different demographics of relocating employees. For example, did a certain benefit for relocating homeowners help make their transition easier than a renter population?  Understanding a deeper sense of how each benefit in a policy can impact a program will certainly give corporations the knowledge to make strategic decisions on policy development and cost containment. With a Lump Sum program, the ability to evaluate specific benefits across various move types is simply lost.

Lack of Support Equals Lack of Control

Now, for those who will argue with me that online Lump Sum services can help companies track costs, I will completely agree that this holds true. The use of online resources that may provide transferees with self-service options and a network of pre-selected supplier partners can certainly provide companies with accurate reporting on what services are being ordered and how funds are being spent.

However, as a long-time rule, the industry knows that just providing money to Transferees, and in some cases, Expatriates, is not going to make the relocation a success. Whether the transferee is a recent college graduate, middle management 1st time transferee or the current, typical industry profile (male, age 36-40, married, not a first-time transferee and moving for a lateral position), the use of relocation counseling is inherently the key to proving a full level of support for your employee.

As relocation administrators, we must all remember that the Lump Sum funds are still the “corporate dollar,” and as such, have a responsibility to make sure the funds are being used wisely and efficiently. The value of professional resources assisting them in understanding the relocation process, selecting service provider, raising financial considerations and simply offering best practices cannot be underestimated.

Taking a Higher Road

Although at first glance, the use of Lump Sum may offer both the employee and company  an easy solution for covering anticipated benefits, we have seen how “the grass isn’t always greener.” For companies who use Lump Sum or are considering the increase in this policy type, there is no opportunity to cut costs when projected need exceeds actual need.  Before going down this path, an employer might want to consider a managed cap approach.  While this type program is still flawed in determining an effective and equitable cap (typically by salary, job level, own/rent status or family size), it offers more structure and captures the actual expenses, which can be used for future projections.

 

So, if you are currently using or contemplating a Lump Sum approach, remember that it’s not a silver bullet. Don’t forget about the cost containment and efficiency that is realized through the utilization of a partner providing a vetted supply chain, real time reporting and best practices benefit auditing.  In the long run, through efficiency and reduced exceptions, their assistance will result in cost savings beyond that of simply writing a check!

Transferee Tax Filing Tips

Tax season has arrived. It is both a headache and a relief for some people as they stumble around the rules and regulations of tax laws, exceptions, deductions, and write offs, hoping for a big return. Obviously, it’s important for everybody to take care when filing their taxes but it’s especially important for recently relocated transferees to understand exactly what their work related move entails in terms of filing. The best advice I can offer is to have your transferee speak to a professional tax consultant to ensure everything is filed correctly, but there are several tips, tricks and reminders that I can offer right now.

Transferee Tax Filing Tips

Tax season has arrived. It is both a headache and a relief for some people as they stumble around the rules and regulations of tax laws, exceptions, deductions, and write offs, hoping for a big return. Obviously, it’s important for everybody to take care when filing their taxes but it’s especially important for recently relocated transferees to Transferee Tax Filing Tipsunderstand exactly what their work related move entails in terms of filing. The best advice I can offer is to have your transferee speak to a professional tax consultant to ensure everything is filed correctly, but there are several tips, tricks and reminders that I can offer right now.

ReloTax: Understanding The New Closing Disclosure Forms

As some of you may already know, there are many significant changes this year, including all new tax rates and tables. Further, the government relocation and FTR rules have been updated including new Canadian tax revisions as well. And, as we’ve discussed for the past few months, the new 2015 Closing Disclosure form – the one replacing the HUD-1 which becomes effective October 3, 2015 is included and discussed in great detail.

Relocation Tax Reporting for Transferees

Just as you are working through the tax filing process in HR, Payroll and Finance, so are your transferees.. That means it’s a good time to remind your transferees about some of the tax deductions they may be eligible for due to their relocation. This is especially helpful for first-time transferees or last year’s college grads who may have limited experience with relocation and/or filing taxes in general. While you can offer your transferee some basic advice, it’s still important that they speak to their accountant, tax consultant, or relocation provider to ensure they are filing correctly and meeting all requirements.

2015 Relocation Tax Information

Relocation TaxAt the end of every year, we try to share as much tax information as possible so that HR, payroll and relocation managers know what to expect in the coming year. This year, INEO has been kind enough to share with us a side-by-side comparison of 15 Federal Taxes and Gross-ups for years 2014 and 1015. As such, we want to share it with you. A very special thanks to David Oltman for providing us with this crib sheet. To read more about relocation tax, please take a spin through David’s other blogs here, including this year’s Top 15 Payroll and Relocation Tax Issues for 2014. Comparison tables are after the jump, but for a printable version, please visit: 15 Federal Taxes and Gross-ups.  

Top 15 Payroll and Relocation Tax Issues for 2014

Relocation Tax ExpertEvery year, we have tax changes that we need to know about in order to give our clients and their transferees the tools they need to account for their year-end tax situation. This year, however, it’s important to note that there is so much going on when it comes to relocation taxation and payroll that human resources, third party relocation companies and transferees should be taking the time now to understand the nuances. If you are in HR, and you have a relocation tax policy that is more than a year old, you should consider it outdated, possibly irrelevant. 

Are Tax Gross-ups Worth It?

As we know all too well, the tax implications of relocating employees is significant. With the exceptions of household goods moving, 30 days of storage, final move expenses and compliant home sale programs, many relocation benefits are taxable to the employee. Further, not only must you treat the other expenses as income to your employee, you must also treat any tax assistance for covered benefits as taxable income as well. 

The Mobile Workforce Bill and the 30 Day Rule for Temporary Assignments

There has always been some confusion around tax filings for employees on temporary assignments. At what point should companies withhold state and local taxes for assignees? One day? One week? A month? Technically, if even one day is spent working in a state, then local and/or state taxes may need to be withheld. Most companies, however, use a 30 day rule where if one month or more is spent in a state, then they will proceed with withholding state and local taxes. It’s important to know that the popular 30 day rule is not a law – it is simply an industry practice.

Tax Planning for a Move Abroad

Relocation TaxationThis article is reprinted from Taxolutions with permission from Rowland, Johnson & Company, P.A.

Many Americans are considering moving abroad to take advantage of professional and personal opportunities in a global economy. But as a U.S. citizen living in a foreign country, your tax situation may become more complex, especially because the U.S. requires all of its citizens and green card holders living abroad to continue to file returns in the U.S., and pay taxes on their worldwide income. Depending on the source and level of your income, however, you may be entitled to a number of tax breaks, chiefly designed to keep you from being taxed doubly by your adopted country, as well as the United States. Whether you actually come out ahead on taxes will depend on which country you work in and its tax rates, along with your individual financial and employment situations.

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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