Global compensation management and tax compliance can both significantly impact an employee when relocating across country borders. Regardless of whether the relocation is permanent or simply a short-term assign­ment, all relocation-related expenses will likely raise tax issues in both departure and destination countries.

This is why it is critical that the potential tax exposure from relocation reimbursements be monitored so that accurate tax returns can be filed in both the old and new country locations.

U.S. Employees’ Unique Tax Obligation

U.S. citizens are required to file taxes on their global income regardless of where it was earned and in addition to the tax fil­ings required in the country of assignment. When an employee transfers out of the U.S., they must still file a U.S. Federal Income tax return. However, the U.S. does provide a foreign tax credit that can be applied to the employee’s return, which means the amount owed in the U.S. could be nothing or a neg­ligible amount, but they are still required to file.

The Importance of Tax Equalization

It is strongly suggested that you provide tax equalization for employees relocating inter­nationally. This allows your employee to pay taxes as they would in their original country, with you covering the difference. This benefit is becoming more common because it taxes people at the same amount had they never taken an assignment. You would then cover the cost of the host location tax and any ad­ditional U.S. obligation that may be incurred.

For example, let’s say you are moving an employee from the U.S. to Italy. The employ­ee has a $28,000 income tax liability to Italy, but their U.S. liability would only be $25,000. You would then pay the additional $3,000 to the Italian tax authorities on your employee’s behalf.

**It is essential that the employee remain tax compliant while on assignment or after a permanent transfer. Failure to report income accurately makes the employee liable; however, if the company does not provide any support or assistance, then you run the risk of being seen as complicit as well.

How WHR Group Can Help

WHR Group provides a complete framework for tracking all expenses associated with an employee’s assignment or permanent trans­fer across borders. The data is collected and broken down into what was paid and which country the payments originated from. All of this information is then provided to a local tax expert in the relevant countries so that the appropriate tax filings can be completed. This process ensures that the employee has filed taxes in the correct countries and that the taxable relocation expenses have been considered as well.

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