How to Seamlessly Transition to a New Global Mobility Tax Services Provider

    

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If your company is considering a switch to a new mobility tax services provider, there are several factors that should be considered before making a change—but transition difficulties should not be one of them. There could be any number of reasons you are thinking about making a change, and most providers are experienced in making that transition while ensuring their clients and mobile employees suffer no interruptions in their mobility tax services.

If you think it might be time to seek out a new provider, we have collected information that will help you determine your needs and walk you through the steps necessary for seamlessly transitioning away from your old provider.

Why you may look for a new mobility tax services provider

There are many reasons why a company may be considering a change in mobility tax services providers. Perhaps your company’s needs and requirements for mobility tax services have changed since you first contracted with your provider. Or maybe your company’s current provider is simply not meeting your expectations when it comes to service. You might even be satisfied with your current provider but are curious as to whether another company may deliver better service at a lower cost.

While a change in mobility tax service providers may be necessary, it is also likely to raise questions as to how difficult the transition will be. Can the new company really meet my needs? How long will it take to make the switch? Will changing providers interfere with my company’s day-to-day operations? Will it affect the company’s mobile employees? These are all valid questions that should be answered before engaging with a new mobility tax services provider.

How to find a provider that best meets your needs

Whether your company is looking to switch mobility tax service providers or is looking to engage with one for the first time, there are three questions that should be answered before you begin your search. The answers to the following questions will help you and your company determine which services are needed and will ensure the new provider can deliver them.

  • What are the business needs? Will the new provider bring a better customer experience? How responsive will they be? Do they offer transparent and flexible pricing? Do they have the necessary experience? Can they utilize your current systems, or will it require additional investments in technology? Make a list of your needs to ensure that you are asking potential providers the relevant questions when you are exploring your options.
  • What services does your company require? Does the provider offer full program support, or will they only address specific issues (e.g., some providers will help with your tax compliance needs, but what about support for business travelers or guidance for equity issues)? Do they offer actionable guidance, or do they just provide you with a report and analytics with no clear plan of action you should take? Determining the type of support your company requires will keep you from engaging with a provider that will provide unnecessary services and prevent you from incurring additional costs when you discover the contract does not cover the services you actually need.
  • What type of provider is your company looking for? How much global coverage does the provider have? What size firm will provide the best support for your company? Are you looking for a large provider, or will a provider that can offer you a more tailored approach be a better fit? Does their culture fit with that of your company? Although it sometimes seems most logical to go with the largest provider, it is important to find a firm that is the perfect balance of big enough to handle your program and accessible enough to provide you a customized approach based on the specific needs for you and your company.

Once you have clearly established what you are looking for in a mobility tax services provider, it is time to narrow your list of candidates to those offering the necessary services and support. Attend industry networking events where vendors are on hand to discuss their services. Although many of these events are now done virtually, they still offer the same benefit of having multiple service providers ready to talk to you about your needs. Additionally, sign up for industry webinars or roundtables on topics related to mobility tax. These events often feature industry experts providing insightful information and best practices within the mobility industry.

When it comes to searching for providers, companies often neglect to talk to their relocation management company, immigration firm, or payroll provider. Although those firms may not offer mobility tax services, they often work closely with mobility tax providers and can share their experiences and insights. As an added benefit, asking for input from these sources can help ensure that each of your mobility providers are able to seamlessly work together to fulfill your mobility needs.

Finally, visit provider websites. Firms often use their websites to promote the skills of their staff by offering blog posts, newsletters, webinars, or other content focusing on the mobility tax services in which they specialize. Perusing the websites of providers will also help you stay up to date on the current issues being faced by businesses with a mobile workforce.

After you narrow down your search of potential firms, make sure you ask them the right questions to ensure they will be the right fit for you, your company, and your mobile employees. Questions like: Will the team that serves your account have the experience necessary to support your program, but also be accessible to you when you have a one-off question? Will they provide you with actionable and proactive guidance on issues that you will potentially face? Will they offer flexible and transparent pricing so you don’t receive surprise bills? Answering these questions ahead of making the transition will help to alleviate frustrations you will potentially face in the future.  

How to prepare for the switch to a new provider

Once you have determined that it would be beneficial to engage with a new provider, there are several steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition—steps that will likely save you, your mobile employees, and your new provider time and unnecessary headaches down the road.

Take stock of your company’s current mobile workforce. Do you have employees on short- or long-term assignments? Do you have any business travelers? Have any employees been permanently transferred? How many mobile employees do you currently have and where are they located? Do you know of future locations where you anticipate a mobile workforce? Determining the answers to these questions will help your new provider get up to speed on your current program so they are ready to provide all necessary services from day one.

Examine the mobility policies you currently have in place. This will help your new provider understand your program so they can help identify any potential issues and cost saving opportunities. That review should also include the tax positions taken by the company regarding mobile employees and such issues as tax equalization, housing allowances, and local taxes to ensure the positions are clearly documented and consistently applied.

Review employee assignment letters. Gather any assignment letters you have that outline the details of the assignments and the benefits being provided to mobile employees and give copies to your new provider.

Inform your new provider of any unique situations faced by either the company or your mobile employees. Such situations could include specific employees that require VIP or “high touch” services or bonuses and equity compensation that is regularly provided by the company.

What to expect when transitioning to a new provider

Your new provider will make every effort to ensure that the switch is as smooth as possible and will usually start things off with an introductory meeting. This meeting addresses the logistics of the switch and allows for members of the provider’s team to meet your program managers with whom they will be working. This also gives your program managers the opportunity to ask questions or raise any areas of concern.

Before the transition begins, we recommend your company arrange a phone call between you, your previous mobility tax services provider, and your new provider to discuss how the transition process will go and any consent forms that are needed. This call should be used to set expectations and timelines for the transition in general and the process that will be needed to facilitate the transfer of information.

Your company’s mobile employees should also be given the opportunity to speak with the new provider so they are informed of what they can expect from the process, the timeframe of when everything will happen, and so they may get answers to any questions they have. Those conversations will help reduce stress for you and your mobile employees and can alleviate the number of phone calls and emails from mobile employees who are confused by the transition process.

Consistent and open lines of communication between you and your new provider will be key to not only a successful transition, but to a successful partnership and program moving forward. Often, this takes the form of regular phone calls to discuss the current state of the company’s mobility tax program and ensure that any new issues are being addressed. These calls can also be a good time to get your other strategic vendors such as your relocation management company, immigration firm, and payroll provider on the phone with you and your mobility tax services firm, so together you can discuss ways to enhance and strengthen your mobility program.

Ensuring a smooth transition for your mobile employees

After your mobile employees have been introduced to your new mobility tax services provider, there are additional steps that should be taken to ensure that the switch is not difficult or stressful for them. The first is to have the employees sign consent forms so the new provider can easily gather the necessary tax information from your previous provider and share that information with any foreign offices. It is important to confirm in advance with your previous provider that the consent language is sufficient for their purposes to allow for the release of your employee’s personal information.

We also recommend that mobile employees have the necessary documents in the event it is not shared by the prior provider, including information such as prior year tax returns, travel calendar information, and any other paperwork needed for tax return preparation. This ensures the mobile employees have the necessary information on hand if the new provider determines that something is missing or that more information is needed to implement new tax strategies to benefit the employee or company.

Your new mobility tax services provider should make every effort to minimize the impact and burden the transition may have on you, your mobile employees, and your company. By being proactive in your approach and by following some of the guidelines identified above, you can ensure a smooth process. 

Looking for additional information on switching providers?

Our e-book, The Definitive Guide to Evaluating Mobility Tax Providers, will help you narrow your search for a new provider and provide you with additional guidance in choosing the right provider for your company. Click here to download your free copy today.

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Author Sajjad Abadin

 
Sajjad began his career with GTN in 2014 and currently serves as Senior Manager in GTN’s Great Lakes region. He has nearly 15 years of experience in expatriate and foreign national tax preparation and consulting. He oversees multiple companies’ mobility tax programs as well as many independent assignees. Clients rely on Sajjad to expand their understanding of complex mobility tax issues, and they put trust in his ability to coordinate and manage the intricacies of their specific mobility programs. sabadin@gtn.com | +1.708.887.0275
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