CapRelo Blog

Which Relocation Expenses Can Be Excluded from Income Tax?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Mar 10, 2017

TaxesRegardless of the distance or time of year, relocating for a job is an expensive undertaking. Fortunately, many employers have relocation packages in place that reimburse employees for some, or all, of their moving expenses. Some relocation expenses are excludable from income tax, while others are considered additional taxable income by the IRS.

Learn more about relocation and U.S. taxes in our free guide.

Excluded Moving Expenses

Qualified relocation expenses are not included in an employee’s income. They are paid directly to the employee or to third parties. Excludable expenses paid directly to the employee are noted on the employee’s W-2 form in box 12, while payments made directly to third parties on the employee’s behalf need not be reported on their W-2.

Excludable moving expenses typically fall into two primary categories, household goods and final move expenses. Below are some common costs related to these two categories.

Moving Household Goods

  • Packing and unpacking household goods at the original and new residences
  • Disconnecting, then reconnecting utilities for each home
  • Transporting pets from the original residence to the new location
  • Packing, crating and boxing supplies
  • Transporting personal vehicles to the new location
  • Storage expenses, usually for 30 to 90 days (depending on the policy and individual circumstances)
  • Insurance on the household goods

Final Move Expenses

  • Transportation expenses to physically move the employee and his/her family to the new residence
  • In-transit lodging for the family
  • Mileage expenses for employees traveling by car, but only the first $0.19 per mile in 2017 (varies each year) is excludable from income

To be excludable from income, the employee should take the most direct route to the news home.

Where to Find Information on Excludable Relocation Expenses

Visit the IRS website to find the most up-to-date information on excludable relocation expenses. Specific information on relocation expenses is outlined in IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses.

Reloc

 

Although this written communication may address tax issues, it is not a covered opinion as described in Circular 230.  Therefore, to ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments), unless expressly stated otherwise, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matter(s) addressed herein.

Topics: tax impact of relocation, relocation expense reimbursement, employee relocation expenses, relocation taxes, employee relocation

What Does a Relocation Package Include?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Feb 09, 2017

home-relocation-1.pngDue to changes in the economic climate, many companies looked to cut costs by offering full relocation benefits packages primarily to higher-level employees, with newer hires and those on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder often left to manage the details (including many unreimbursed expenses) for themselves. In some organizations, employees were reimbursed only after the move for any but the most basic moving expenses. However, smart companies looking to recruit and retain top talent, are realizing the advantages of offering relocation expense coverage for even newer hires.

Learn more about developing relocation policies in our free guide. 

Many organizations either designate an in-house relocation manager to help oversee the move from beginning to end or, increasingly, turn this complex job over to a professional relocation management company.

What can today’s transferee expect in a relocation package? Much will vary based on position within the company, the industry and the location. However, in most standard relocation packages, a transferee can usually expect his or her company to offer some, or all, of the following provisions:

  • House hunting expense reimbursement for a new residence, which may also include childcare costs enabling parents to focus on the business of finding a residence without the distraction of little ones. Most companies pay for at least one or two house hunting trips in the new location.
  • Real estate and rental expenses for selling an existing residence are also covered by most employers as a basic benefit. These expenses usually include agent sales commissions and related fees, closing costs, transfer taxes and fees and other moving-related expenses. For renters who may need to break a lease, the company will reimburse for any penalties incurred.
  • Moving household goods between the old and new location, including packing, transporting, insuring and setting up furnishings and other goods in the destination location.
  • Storage expenses for household furnishings until a new residence is ready for move-in, usually for 30 to 90 days, depending on the policy and individual circumstances.
  • Transportation to the new location, whether airfare or reimbursement of mileage if the trip can be made by auto. For longer hauls when a transferee must travel by air or train, companies will often reimburse the costs of moving a personal auto to the new destination.
  • Temporary living expenses, such as interim rental housing for 30 to 90 days (depending on policy and individual circumstances), upon arrival to enable the transferee to meet critical starting deadlines.
  • Miscellaneous expenses associated with the relocation. These could include unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, costs of meals en route to the final destination as well as well as during house hunting, spouse employment assistance, new driver’s license and other fees charged by the new state or country, as well as for childcare, eldercare and other dependent care costs.

While it’s still true that the higher the level of an employee’s status within an organization, the more comprehensive and inclusive will be the relocation package, more savvy companies are offering to underwrite relocation costs even for newer employees as a means of attracting and keeping their top talent. Each company has its own benefit structure and policies vary, so potential transferees need to understand from the outset what is and isn't included (but could be negotiable) to secure the best deal on relocation packages.

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Topics: relocation packages, job relocation, standard relocation package, employee relocation

January Relocation Survey

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

Thinking about changing your relocation program or just curious about what other organizations are doing? Each month, we'll feature a short survey and share our findings along with the next survey the following month. Below are the results for last month's survey and this month's survey questions.

December Survey Results

1. Does your company process relocation-related tax matters in-house or do you out-source?

100% of respondents out-source the processing of relocation-related tax matters.

2. What is your top challenge associated with relocation-related tax matters?

67% of repondents report that keeping current on tax laws is their top challenge. 33% indicate that tax reporting/forms are their top challenge. 

3. If your company provides tax gross-up as a benefit to your transferees, which method do you use for calculating gross-up?

33% of respondents use the flat method for calculated gross-up. 67% did not know which method is used. 

 

This month's survey addresses executive relocation policy features.  

Create your own user feedback survey

Topics: executive relocation package, relocation policies, employee relocation

How Do Company Relocation Packages Work?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Jan 05, 2017


What Is a Relocation Package?

moving-in.jpgWhen a company offers an employee long-term employment in a location more than 50 miles from the current work location, a transfer is undertaken by the company, which usually covers the employee’s reasonable moving and other work-related expenses. By offering transferees a relocation package, employers provide comprehensive financial and other types of assistance to relieve the employee and their family of the expensive burden of relocation. A well-developed relocation package not only provides peace of mind as well as incentive to accept the job offer for the transferring employee but reflects positively on the company’s reputation for attracting top talent.

The Components of a Quality Relocation Package

Generally, a good relocation package can be expected to cover the expenses of a moving company, including packing, transporting and, if necessary, storing the employee’s goods if awaiting purchase or rental of a new home. If the employee needs to sell a current house, a relocation package may cover the costs of real estate agent fees and house-hunting expenses, such as ground or air travel, hotels and food.

Additional smaller expenses, often termed “miscellaneous expense allowance” for items such as driver’s license fees, en route out-of-pocket cash outlays and other costs associated with moving to a new location are considered standard in most packages.

Who Gets a Relocation Package?

While it is becoming more common for new, junior-level employees to also be offered relocation opportunities, typically the higher the employee’s rank within the organization, the more extensive the covered expenses of a relocation package. A recent graduate just starting their career may have only the basic expenses of moving, while a vice president will often have additional services covered, such as child care while house hunting, as well as airfare and car rentals, lodging and meals for the employee and his/her spouse.

How are Expenses Covered?

Assistance may consist of lump sum cash payments toward expenses, direct billing by the company for all moving expenses or reimbursement after up-front payment by the employee.

Relocation is an area where job candidates and new hires may have a bit more ground to negotiate, as it usually costs much less to move an employee than to pay a higher salary. In fact, a Worldwide ERC survey from 2015 reported that companies spent an average of $71,803 in 2014 to move newly hired homeowners and $23,766 to move newly hired renters.

The Takeaway

Most companies want to save as much money as possible in the course of job transfers while still ensuring that the employees and their families are comfortable and ready to get to work as soon as they arrive in the new location. When used a recruiting tool, a strong relocation package can make a difference in attracting the best job candidates – a critical factor in remaining competitive in a global job market.

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Topics: relocation packages, relocation process, employee relocation

Are Relocation Packages Common?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Dec 22, 2016

Relocation SearchRelocation Then and Now

In years past, relocation assistance was offered almost exclusively to higher-level employees or specialized contractors. Today, with a more global economy and better-educated global workforce, the competition for the best talent is stronger than ever; consequently, smart companies are jumping on the relocation benefits bandwagon to attract and keep their best employees.

A 2013 survey by Atlas Van Lines reported an increase of 13 percent over a three-year period among companies offering relocation assistance. Companies are finally catching on to the fact that having a strong, attractive relocation package in place not only makes excellent business and branding sense, but has become a reality for those companies that wish to remain competitive.

Learn more about relocation packages in our free guide.

HR Professionals are Optimistic about Relocation

A 2015 Worldwide ERC® survey indicated an upward trend in U.S. transfer volumes: a 4% increase in relocation for current employees and a 7% increase for new hires. And companies anticipated another increase in the next year 

The Role of Millennials in Corporate Relocation

One thing that can be said for sure about this demographic group that is quickly taking over the workforce: they like to be on the go. Already having overtaken the Baby Boomers in the workforce, millennials are arguably the most technology- and travel-adept generation to every show up on the scene.

Millennials are changing the face of workplaces around the world, as they demand work environments that not only acknowledge their contributions by their need for flexibility and a good balance between work and private lives. In an Urban Bound study, a full 71 percent of millennials also expressed a desire to work abroad at some point in their careers – a fact that shouldn’t be lost on corporate recruiters.

The Takeaway

Relocation packages are increasingly becoming used not only as a way to keep in-house talent happy in the event of a transfer, but as an effective recruiting tool – particularly for globe-trotting millennials, who often relish the chance to travel and broaden their business and personal horizons. If companies find that they’re losing talent, especially as part of a transfer process, then a review of their relocation policies and strategies may be in order to keep up with the changing faces of the modern workforce.

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Topics: relocation packages, relocation benefits, relocation policies, employee relocation

What Kinds of Relocation Packages are Available?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

young businessman with moving boxes.jpgThere are almost as many types of relocation packages as there are employees needing the assistance and the companies that hire them. The company’s financial resources and situation, the length of employment, as well as whether the employee is a homeowner or renter also play roles in determining the size and coverage offered in a relocation package.

A core or standard relocation package usually covers the costs of moving and storing furnishings and other household goods, along with help selling an existing home and costs incurred house hunting, temporary housing if necessary and all travel costs by the employee and family to the new location.

Find out more about relocating employees with families in our free article.

Besides the coverage itself, there are a number of ways to administer the package:

  • Direct billing: The transferring company hires and directly pays for a moving company as well as costs involved in selling a current home and all other services needed to help relocate the employee and family.
  • Lump sum: A set amount of money is given directly to the employee to pay for moving and related expenses. For tax purposes, the government considers this as income and therefore taxable, so to offset tax liabilities, companies often reimburse for those in the form of a gross-up (link to gross-up blog post), which frees the full amount of cash for the move. Another possible drawback is that it may be difficult to correctly estimate the total costs up front, due to unexpected out-of-pocket expenditures. If a mover’s initial estimate is lower than the actual costs, for example, the employee may have to dig into their own pockets to cover the difference.
  • Reimbursement: The employee pays for everything up from and is reimbursed by the company after the move. This requires careful record keeping by the employee, including tracking all receipts for expenses. Additionally, employers will likely set a limit above which they will not reimburse.
  • Third-party (outsourced) relocation: In this scenario, all logistics related to moving, including real estate or rental expenses are outsourced to a third party that coordinates a comprehensive array of services. Some of these may include marketing and sale of an existing residence, spousal employment assistance, storage of household goods, if necessary, and rental assistance.
  • Expatriation assistance: This is additional relocation assistance used by multinational companies for employees relocating outside the country, beyond the typical moving and transport of household goods and real estate help. Covered benefits may include overseas trips to search for suitable housing and assistance with obtaining spousal work visas, finding and selecting schools for employees’ children and finding the way around a city in a foreign country. Language and cultural assimilation instruction offered through a relocation package serve to help the employees’ comfort zone and confidence by adjusting to the new culture and its customs.

The Takeaway

Offering employees choices in relocation packages provides incentives for current and prospective employees to remain and pursue careers within a company. With competition among companies for top talent, offering attractive relocation packages is a win-win for both companies and employees.

Relocating Employees with Families

Topics: relocation packages, standard relocation package, relocating employees, employee relocation

What is Included in the Average Relocation Package?

Posted by Jim Retzer on Tue, Feb 11, 2014

Standard Relocation PackageA typical relocation package will include the following features. Please note that this is a more subjective, than objective, list. Depending on the industry and their competition’s relocation programs, employers can tailor their programs to offer the most competitive and attractive packages to attract and retain top talent. 

Find more examples of relocation packages and features in our free guide.

COMMON FEATURES OF AN AVERAGE RELOCATION PACKAGE

  • Full pack and/or unpack services. The employee's household goods are packed by a moving company, saving the employee time and stress. After arriving at the new destination and home, moving company personnel unpack the household goods.
  • Quality moving company service with reasonable insurance coverage. Some moving companies are known for quality moves, some are not. Since moving charges are usually based on total weight, insurance for damaged or lost goods should be equal to your goods’ value.

  • Home sale or lease-breaking penalty assistance. Home sale help can come in a variety of ways, from company-sponsored reimbursement for money lost on quick home sales, professional marketing help to accelerate the timing of sales to the employer buying the home. Renters can expect employers to pay contractual penalties for early lease termination.

  • House-hunting trip, minimum one. Standard relocation programs commonly include at least one, preferably two, company-paid house hunting trips of short duration to give the transferee and family opportunities to find new homes.

  • Temporary housing. Standard relocations include at least 30 days of temporary housing for transferees.

  • Transportation, including auto moving, to the final destination. Most relocation policies include reimbursement for transporting your transferee and his/her family to the new location. If the transferee can travel by auto, reimbursing for mileage expenses is common. Should the move require plane or train transportation, standard policies often include reimbursing the cost of moving the transferee’s vehicle(s).

  • Miscellaneous expenses. As usual the “miscellaneous” category can encompass a lot of small costs. To keep this category cost controlled, identify or cap most eligible costs.

These are commonly included features of standard relocation policies, which we outline in our guide. Depending on your industry and facility locations, you may want to include more features in your standard package.

Popular features in some standard programs include temporary living expenses when transferees must meet hard deadlines to move, storage costs for household goods before employees can move into new homes, spousal employment assistance in the new location, childcare costs and elder help for transferees caring for elderly parents.

Your relocation package may or may not include some or all of the noted features. However, in all cases, you should regularly compare your package with those of your competition. If your program is significantly deficient in some area, make senior management aware of the discrepancy, advising them to consider upgrades to keep your standard policy equal to your competition’s packages.

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Topics: relocation management services, corporate relocation program, standard relocation package, employee relocation

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