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.
It happens all the time. Your company has a mobile workforce in multiple locations, and you realize you need help with the mobility tax complexities that come with having employees working outside their usual work location. So, you reach out to a well-known large accounting firm offering an impressive list of services and experts who may already be doing your corporate tax work. You know they can handle the number of mobile employees you have, and you are pretty sure they won’t mess things up because they have been doing this for decades. But somewhere along the line you realize your provider may be a bit too big for you and you aren’t getting the white-glove service you expected.
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:
Mobility program managers are continuously having to evolve and adapt to new circumstances, and are doing so now more than ever. Additionally, mobility programs and program managers need to remain flexible as COVID-19 continues to impact the world. Both companies and their employees are adapting to this “new world” and finding a new work-life balance while governments are continuing to make decisions to provide economic stimulus and stabilization.
As we all struggle to keep up with the impact of COVID-19, the changing rules, and the lack of guidelines, we wanted to share a few tips that have been beneficial for our clients with mobility programs. Here is a mobility tax checklist of considerations to think about as you work to determine next steps for your mobility program and your mobile employees.