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.
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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.
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.
It’s been over twenty years since I made my own global mobility move, relocating from the UK to the US. Back then, I was a lowly minion at one of the accounting giants at that time. To say my relocation package was sparse would be an understatement. I received a bit of temporary housing support when I first arrived and that was pretty much it. Off I went. Even from a distance of over two decades, I still remember the stress of the move and trying to get myself situated. Little did I realize that I would be the precursor to a growing trend in global mobility—the self-requested move with little or no company assistance.
Colleagues, peers, mobility professionals, and even my kids have asked me if COVID-19 means the end of business travel. And over the past two months, the traditional questions being asked have changed from a focus on business travel issues, the need to track business travelers, and how to manage the process, to questions about working through country travel bans, tax exemptions, and the immediate mobility tax risks of employees being in a location they might not have expected to be in. While we don’t have all the answers, we are working through these questions, determining next steps, and creating solutions together that can be used well into the future.