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While many companies have employees working from home, or even working from anywhere in the world, they are faced with many questions that have taken on new meanings. Questions like: What state or country are my employees working from? Are they creating taxable events in the location they are working from? Is the company and employee still compliant with tax authorities? And while these are all questions you have likely had to ask in the past, now more than ever, it is important to find the answers. As you continue to evaluate your company’s need to keep employees working from a place outside of their usual office, here are further considerations you and your company should keep in mind.
As a result of COVID-19, many business functions are taking steps to create and update multiple policies within their organization, and the global mobility department is no exception. While restrictions remain in place for “traditional” mobile employees such as business travelers, assignees, commuters, and transferees, an even larger group of remote workers—including work-from-home or “work anywhere” employees—is creating new mobility tax issues for companies to consider.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently resulted in a surge of “work-from-home” employees, and for many companies, it has proved to be a positive addition to their workplace culture. Because of this positive feedback and overall ease of having employees working from home, companies are allowing more of their employees to work remotely on a regular basis. According to a March 2020 article by Forbes, remote work increased 159% between 2002 and 2017 due to various benefits. The fact that COVID-19 has forced more companies to allow their employees to work remotely will likely mean this already growing trend will continue and even accelerate in the future. This migration to having more remote workers is likely to be just one of many significant changes as a result of COVID-19 and although working from home is not a new concept, having such an increase in remote workers will create new issues for companies to consider.
COVID-19, current travel restrictions, and government and business shutdowns have certainly made it difficult for many mobile employees to carry out “business as usual.” This can be particularly true for employees that were on a short-term or long-term assignment prior to COVID-19. Because of safety considerations or travel restrictions, two common scenarios that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic include:
One of the most unpleasant surprises a global mobility manager may encounter is receiving an unexpected request to pay a large tax payment on behalf of a tax equalized assignee. With the right tax accrual process in place, you can avoid those unpleasant tax payment surprises.