With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, there are key changes to the tax treatment of several common relocation benefits. Whether you are an employee moving domestically or globally or an employer who relocates employees, it is important to be aware of these changes as we head into tax season.
A new white paper from Bain & Company explores some dramatic changes that will affect talent management and the employee mobility function. A brief excerpt follows.
Demographics, automation and inequality have the potential to dramatically reshape our world in the 2020s and beyond. Our analysis shows that the collision of these forces could trigger economic disruption far greater than we have experienced over the past 60 years. The aim of this report by Bain’s Macro Trends Group is to detail how the impact of aging populations, the adoption of new automation technologies and rising inequality will likely combine to give rise to new business risks and opportunities. These gathering forces already pose challenges for businesses and investors. In the next decade, they will combine to create an economic climate of increasing extremes but may also trigger a decade-plus investment boom. Read More
Steve Townsend, CRP, GMS-T Awarded the Saul Gresky Award by the North Texas Relocation Professionals
– Recognizing relocation industry contributions –
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – February 8, 2018 – TRC Global Mobility, Inc. (TRC) is pleased to announce that Steve Townsend, CRP, GMS-T, Vice President, Business Development at TRC, was awarded the Saul Gresky Award by the North Texas Relocation Professionals (NTRP).
So where are Americans moving these days, and why are they moving there? United Van Lines’ recently released 41st Annual National Movers Study holds a few surprises. The study tracks United customers’ state-to-state migration patterns during the previous year.
According to the study, Americans are moving westward, flocking to the Mountain and Pacific West, while the Northeast and Midwest continue to lose residents. In 2017, more residents moved out of Illinois than any other state with 63 percent of moves being outbound. Surprisingly, Vermont had the highest percentage of inbound migration in 2017 with nearly 68 percent of moves to and from the state being inbound Read More
As the name suggests, companies offer supplemental lump sums to cover part of an employee’s relocation costs, not all of them. About one-third of TRC’s clients utilize the supplemental lump sum to cover benefits such as the home finding trip, temporary living and the final move. Companies usually tailor supplemental lump sums to each employee’s move, often by pricing accommodations through preferred providers and including pre-determined amounts for mileage and meals.
According to the Atlas World Group 2017 Corporate Relocation Survey, 50% of companies are using a supplemental lump sum to cover temporary accommodation costs, up from 38% – 43% in years 2011 through 2014. In its 2017 Workforce Mobility Benchmark Report, Runzheimer noted that nearly 50% of the organizations they surveyed manage home finding expenses via a supplemental lump sum. Read More
When discussing lump sum policy, the core/flex policy is an attempt to provide greater flexibility and a better employee relocation experience for the employee while allowing the employer to meet global mobility objectives and contain costs. A perennial complaint of transferring employees is that relocation policies include benefits the employee neither wants nor needs, but do not include alternative benefits that better meet the employees’ needs.
These benefits go unused, which saves the employer money but can leave the employees feeling like their needs have gone unmet. Occasionally, relocating employees ask to trade undesired benefits for ones that are more relevant (e.g. an extension of temporary housing instead of spouse counseling). Most employers view these request as exceptions to policy and deny them.
With a core/flex program, companies often choose to retain a tiered methodology, with tiers typically differentiated by job grade or homeowner/renter status. There is also a trend to have a dedicated “executive” tier for higher-level employees. Within each policy tier, there are specifically defined (core) benefits. Companies determine which core benefits to include by analyzing historical benefits usage data. The core benefits do not have a monetary cap or limit, but employees must use them exactly as defined in the policy. Read More
A managed lump sum policy is similar to a traditional fixed lump sum except the company specifically defines the benefits covered by the lump sum in its policy guidelines. These benefits are sometimes presented as menu items, allowing the employee to choose benefits that best suit his or her needs. Other companies calculate the lump sum based on the benefits they intend to provide. Either way, the company typically provides relocation counseling (either in house or through a third-party provider) to help the employee use the funds most effectively. Unlike the traditional fixed, any unused funds revert back to the company. The company calculates the managed lump sum amount using the same methods as the traditional fixed, sometimes with the assistance of a third-party data provider.
Pros of a Managed Lump Sum Program
This model allows companies to track benefit usage and spend much more reliably than the traditional fixed. This closer control will also help the company to manage costs better with a vetted network of relocation service partners to ensure optimum pricing and quality. From a tax perspective, the employer can make direct vendor payments, allowing it to treat each of the components individually as taxable or non-taxable. Read More
A traditional fixed lump sum policy approach provides the relocating employee with a flat amount of money that he or she can use to pay relocation expenses. Under this program, the employee is usually responsible for coordinating the move details and allocating the available funds. Companies can use several criteria to determine the amount of the lump sum, including: 1) Job or grade level of the employee; 2) Homeowner versus renter status; 3) New hire versus current employee; 4) Historical averages for similar types of moves; 5) Distance of the relocation and family size; and 6) Discretion of the employee’s manager.
Companies can also engage a third-party data provider to determine the amount of the lump sum. The provider will consider current costs, distance, family size and any other parameters set by the employer in calculating a lump sum amount.
Worldwide ERC sent the following request to its members on November 15, 2017 asking for support in preserving the moving expense deduction.
Dear Worldwide ERC® Members,
Your industry needs your help. Please write your members of Congress today in support of preserving the moving expense deduction. As previously reported by Worldwide ERC®, the current Senate and House versions of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” would eliminate numerous tax deductions and exclusions including the moving expense deduction. It is critical that your members of Congress hear from you, requesting that they help restore this tool vital to workforce mobility.
On November 2, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee released new tax reform legislation entitled the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Although currently in review and not yet passed into law, there are portions of the proposed tax law that would bring about a significant shock to the global mobility industry. Because of the impact that this bill as it stands would have on our industry, it is imperative to understand what the current proposals entail and what the consequences would be as we move forward into 2018.
Elimination of the Household Goods Moving Expense and Final Move Non-Meal Expense Deduction
The household goods move for the employee is currently seen as excludable or non-taxable. Under the proposed bill, all of these costs will become taxable in 2018 and corporations will need to determine if they are willing to cover the cost of the taxes (or gross-up) on behalf of their transferring employees. As the household goods move is typically one of the most expensive relocation benefits offered (second only to the sale of the home), the financial ramifications for both the employer and the employee are considerable. For example, if a household goods shipment costs $20,000.00 and the estimated gross-up to cover the taxes on the shipment would be $13,000.00, the employer would face an additional $13,000.00 in relocation fees, and the employee would see $33,000.00 of additional taxable income in their W-2—just for the household goods shipment alone. Read More