CapRelo Blog

Tips for Designing a Core-Flex Policy

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Feb 15, 2018

Team MeetingDesigning a core-flex policy takes time and work. Nevertheless, by committing to creating a comprehensive program from the start, making periodic updates and adjustments becomes easier. It’s advisable to establish several factors up front:

Competitive Core-Flex Policies in Specific Industries

HR departments and mobility managers should begin by researching what their competition provides in terms of mobility benefits. Because mobility benefits are critical to attracting top talent, knowing what competitors offer will provide some guidance about the services to include, as well as the average budget for each. Of course, it may be challenging to find this information, so consulting with an experienced global mobility company to gain insights about the components of the average core-flex policy can be helpful.

Core Components

As we’ve seen, household goods moving, travel costs and other benefits the company considers critical are standard core components. Depending on the company’s needs and budget, relocation counseling, visa and immigration services, tax equalization, lease services, temporary housing and home-finding assistance may also be included, especially for long-distance and international moves.

Flexible Services Offering

Flexible benefits can include home finding trips, home sale and home purchase support, property management, mortgage assistance, temporary living, spousal support and career services, child and elder care assistance, language training, cross-cultural training, school search assistance, pet transport, vehicle transport, lump sum assistance and tax services.

Note that whether a service is categorized as a core component or an additional service depends entirely on the employer. Companies in competitive markets that want to surpass the competition may decide to include more services in the core component to attract more talent.

Policy Tiers

This is determined by factors such as employee seniority, family size, relocation distance, international travel and homeownership. It should be clear that most companies will allocate a larger budget to senior managers than junior employees, that homeowners need more support than renters and that international moves have different core and flex needs than domestic ones.

Flexible Services Selection

Given the sensitive nature of these selections, a global mobility management company can be a key resource in these discussions and in providing recommendations and guidance to both the employer and employee. HR professionals and even supervisors may not have a full understanding of their employees’ personal lives and their corresponding responsibilities. For example, a manager might not know that a transferee cares for a disabled parent or that an employee wants his or her children to attend a specific kind of private school. In short, it’s essential to give employees a say in determining which services he or she receives and come to an arrangement that suits both employee and employer. The expertise and experience of a global mobility management company can be helpful in providing advice on which flexible services companies may want to consider including in their policy.

Guide to Core-Flex Policies

Topics: global mobility, employee relocation, core-flex policies, talent mobility

Can Olympic Athletes Change The Country They Represent?

Posted by Jim Retzer on Fri, Feb 09, 2018

The Olympics are a global showcase of the world’s best athletes, and in recent years the Games have steadily become more inclusionary in service of that ideal. It has become increasingly common, for example, for Olympians to hold citizenship in and represent countries other than the ones they were born in. There are any number of reasons athletes adopt new homelands, but the overall effect is that more athletes and nations get to realize their Olympic dreams, while the makeup of the Games better reflects the increasingly globalized world we live in.

As globally-focused mobility experts, we at CapRelo applaud this trend, and are examining how it will be represented at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With that in mind, we decided to do a little research of our own into the upcoming Winter Games to see who these athletes are, where they come from, where they’re relocating to, and much more. Check out our findings below!

There are nearly 3,000 athletes set to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and we did our best to find out where each and every one of them was born. We started with the official rosters announced by the nearly 90 participating Olympic Committees that were available by the start of February.

Where possible, CapRelo used official Olympic Committee websites to verify birthplaces, and combined that data with official websites of various sports’ governing bodies, news outlets, and other credible sources to fill in the gaps. These statistics are based on the rosters announced the day of the official cutoff date, January 29.


One of the things that jumped out at us was the sheer number of American-born athletes competing under different flags: thirty-seven in all, far outpacing the second and third place finishers in Canada and Russia. That these three countries led in this category isn’t terribly surprising, however, as they all feature large populations and have climates and geography that is perfect for producing Winter Olympians. The competition to make the official Olympic squads for these countries is incredibly tough, making it very appealing for some athletes to look elsewhere to reach the biggest stage in their respective sports.


One of the biggest beneficiaries of non-native athletes is unquestionably the South Korean hosts. In an effort to give their home fans more athletes to root for and increase their chances at winning some coveted medals, South Korea naturalized 18 athletes in the run-up to 2018, including some with previous Olympic experience for their nations of origin. These naturalized Koreans will be most prominent when it comes to the South Korean men’s ice hockey team, which we’ll give some more in-depth coverage to later.


Speaking of America losing athletes and South Korea gaining them, four of those 18 naturalized athletes for the hosts hail from the USA, two ice dancers and one player each for the Korean men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. The only nation with more American-born athletes competing (excluding the USA, naturally) is the USA’s neighbors to the north, as Canada counts six such athletes among their Olympic contingent.


One of the biggest surprises we found was when we really dug into the sports that featured the most non-native competitors. We assumed figure skating would feature the most non-native athletes competing in Pyeongchang, and while that sport did come in strong with 26 athletes, alpine skiing was the big winner in this category, featuring 32 competitors!


Olympic ice hockey teams are allowed to have rosters consisting of 22 skaters and 3 goalies, for a total of 25 athletes each. As the host country, South Korea was granted an automatic place in the hockey competitions, something they have known about since they were announced as the winning bid by the IOC in July 2011. With an eye towards improving their chances in one of the most popular of all Winter Olympic sports, the South Koreans turned to North America to bolster their ice hockey roster. As a result, 7 of their 25 players hail from Canada or the USA, over 25% of their total roster! These North Americans have spent the past several years playing professionally in Korea while representing the South Korean national team, and they will be crucial to the host nation’s competitiveness on the rink.


Lest anyone get the idea that all athletes who switch nationalities for the Olympics only do so because they aren’t skilled enough to make the teams from their birth countries, it is important to note that a number of athletes competing in 2018 will be doing so having already taken home past Olympic medals. This includes more than a few gold medalists. Russian-born Slovakian Anastasiya Kuzmina is one of the world’s best biathletes, counting 2 golds and a silver medal to her name already. USA native Vic Wild will be defending both gold medals he won for Russia in 2014. And Ukrainian-born Belarusian Anton Kushnir scored higher than any athlete in history to win the gold in men’s aerial skiing four years ago.         


For some countries there would be no Olympic representation were it not for non-native born athletes. A dozen different nations are represented in Pyeongchang exclusively by competitors born elsewhere, including a historic contingent of Nigerian women who will be the first ever Olympic bobsled team from Africa!


The Nigerian women are historic for a number of reasons, as they are also the first ever Winter Olympians from the African nation, making them one of three different Olympic contingents composed entirely of foreign-born athletes making their nation’s Olympic debuts. Joining in that distinction are Kosovo and Eritrea. CapRelo also found it interesting that the makeup of non-foreign athletes in South Korea is set to be extremely diverse, as even though the average age of competitors is 26.6 years old, the overall pool of foreign-born athletes runs the gamut of ages from 16 all the way to 43.

When you tune in to the Winter Games this month, keep your eyes and ears out for the stories of these incredible athletes and the lengths they’ve gone to reach their Olympic goals. Consider just how impressively globalized our world has become, even when it comes to sports. We know we sure will! 


Tax Reform and Transferees: What You Need to Know

Posted by CapRelo on Tue, Feb 06, 2018

Red Ring Binder with Inscription Tax Law on Background of Working Table with Office Supplies, Laptop, Reports. Toned Illustration. Business Concept on Blurred Background. 3d Render..jpegTax reforms in 2018 will have an impact on deductions and property taxes. Here is a brief summary of the primary changes. Please note that individuals should always consult their tax advisors.

Moving Expense Deduction

As of January 1, 2018, movement of household goods, storage and final move travel are taxable to transferees. With the elimination of the moving expense deduction, the "50 mile", "39 week" and "one year" rules as well as the 18 cents per mile vehicle allowance are no longer relevant. This change should be reviewed closely with your mobility management company to fully understand the impact to your organization.

Tax Rates and Withholding

The tax rates are generally lowered, which should reduce the marginal tax rate for employees. The supplemental withholding rate that is used by most companies to withhold on taxable relocation benefits and to calculate gross-up will fall from 25% to 22%. However, with the loss of moving expenses and other deductions, companies will need to manage their gross-up programs carefully, especially with the new tax rates. 

State and Local Income, Sales and Property Taxes

State and local income, sales and property taxes remain deductible, but only up to $10,000 combined. Employees moving into high-tax areas are more likely to be affected.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

The mortgage interest deduction is retained, but the maximum loan amount to be able to deduct was reduced from $1 M to $750,000. Employees moving into high-cost areas are more likely to be impacted by this new threshold for mortgage interest deductions.

Home Sale Capital Gains Exclusion

There were no changes here. Both the House and Senate had proposed changing the required ownership and use as a principal residence to five out of eight years from the current two out of five. That would have certainly impacted relocation with many transfer­ees moving again inside of a five-year window, but fortunately there were no changes regarding Capital Gains on homes.

Tax Brackets and Rates, 2018

2018 Tax Brackets.png


Today's post is brought to you by our friends at Colonial National Mortgage. Click here to download a copy.

Colonial National Mortgage


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 taxes, mobility and taxes

January 2018 Mobility Survey

Posted by Amy Mergler on Wed, Jan 31, 2018

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 of the previous month's survey. 

Below are the results for October's survey and this month's survey questions.

December Survey Results

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

In-House: 67%
Out-Source: 34%
Don't Know: 0%

2. What is your top challenge associated with mobility-related tax matters? (Choose all that apply)

Calculating/handling tax gross-up: 67% 
Keeping current on changes to tax laws: 100%
Payroll taxes and withholding: 34%
Tax reporting/forms: 67%
Other (please specify): 0%

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

Flat Method: 0%
Supplemental/Inverse Method: 34%
Marginal/Inverse Method: 0%
Unknown: 67%
Do Not Offer Tax Gross-Up: 0%


This month's survey addresses executive talent mobility programs.  


Create your own user feedback survey

Topics: relocation packages, employee relocation

Upcoming Mobility Shows and Events - February 2018

Posted by Amy Mergler on Tue, Jan 30, 2018


We will be attending and/or sponsoring the following upcoming events. If you’re attending, look for us and say hi, because it's a great opportunity for us to stay abreast of the latest global mobility trends, as well as develop and strengthen trusted partnerships. 


Corporate Relocation Council of Chicago Meeting & Annual charity Auction

Date: February 8

Location: McDonald's Hamburger University, Oak Brook, IL

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

The CRC event will include roundtable and educational sessions, a Jenga tournament and a silent charity auction benefitting Chicago Run and Kaleidoscope.

For more information about the event and to register, click here


Forum for Expatriate Management Boston Chapter Meeting

Date: February 8

Location: KPMG, Boston, MA

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The February FEM Boston chapter meeting will update attendees on immigration and expatriate taxes for 2018, with commentary on recent U.S. immigration policy and tax reform changes and how companies are responding to the changes.

Click here to learn more and register.


Minnesota Employee Relocation council 34th Annual Conference 

Date: February 13

Location: McNamara Alumni Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

The 34th annual MERC conference will bring together mobility industry professionals for educational sessions, networking and a mini golf tournament to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.

Find more information and register for the conference here.


Bay Area Mobility Management 2018 Annual Mobility Conference 

Date: February 15

Location: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, CA

Attendee: Patrick Cacho

The 2018 BAMM mobility conference will focus on the top challenges facing the mobility industry, including tax reform, diversity, global program management and immigration changes. Attendees will learn the latest relocation trends, solutions and strategies and can network with more than 500 BAMM Service & Corporate Members.

Click here to learn more and to register.


Greater Pittsburgh Relocation Council February Meeting

Date: February 15

Location: Revel + Roost, Pittsburgh, PA

Attendee: Pete Larkin

The GPRC meeting will discuss tax reform issues for mobility and the impacts of the new law.

Register for the meeting here.


Wisconsin Employee Relocation Council February Breakfast Meeting 

Date: February 21

Location: TBD

Attendee: Christopher Bloedel

Details are not yet available for this event.

Click here to look for updated information about the event.


If you can’t attend, please be sure to follow CapRelo on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Topics: CapRelo Employees

Core-Flex Policy Basics

Posted by Amy Mergler on Fri, Jan 19, 2018

Be Flexible sign with clouds and sky background.jpegWith an increase in global mobility, organizations are looking for ways to create flexible and affordable relocation packages. In fact, recent research shows that 88 percent of companies are incorporating aspects of core-flex policies into their mobility programs. But what are core-flex policies exactly, and how can they benefit both employees and employers?

What is a Core-Flex Policy?

A core-flex policy is a corporate mobility policy that consists of two core components. The first component comprises relocation benefits that all transferees need: travel costs, household goods transportation and other benefits that the company may consider critical. The second component includes a range of services that can be added depending on the individual’s needs, such as spousal and family support, home sale and purchase assistance, pet care and transportation, administrative and tax support, immigration services, language and cultural support, etc.

Advantages of a Core-Flex Policy

For organizations of all sizes, core-flex policies offer advantages over lump sum allowances and full-service mobility packages. There’s the potential for cost savings because both the core components and flexible service options can be designed to contain costs. Individual packages can be customized to specific employees’ needs, resulting in accurate expense allocation for every transferee.

Let’s say, for example, that a company needs to relocate two equally ranked managers to a new manufacturing plant. One is married with three children; the other is single. Due to the different makeup of their households, the first manager needs more benefits than the second to relocate successfully. With a core-flex policy, the employer has the flexibility to allocate more services and funds to the first manager’s relocation while still providing the second manager with all the services he or she needs—yet at a much lower cost.

By their very nature, core-flex policies reduce policy exceptions. When a company has well thought-out core and flex components, it becomes easier to ensure sufficient relocation support for the myriad of different transferee needs.

A core-flex policy is also a powerful recruitment tool. Millennials and Gen Z workers are among the most mobile generations in the workforce – and they want to be valued as employees. Customizable mobility packages – as opposed to a one-size-fits-all solution – align with their preferences and go a long way to attracting and retaining top talent.

All of this together empowers HR and hiring managers because they know exactly what level of support they can offer to employees and candidates without having to wait for additional authorization. This contributes to faster, more efficient processes, and fosters employee engagement.

Disadvantages of a Core-Flex Policy

There are also several disadvantages to a core-flex policy. First, it requires a more complex administration than strictly defined policies. While every transferee receives the core components, managing and accurately documenting the flex policy components in each case involves a lengthier, more complicated process.

Core-flex policies can also be more time consuming to design and support than other types of policies. HR teams will typically need to do more research when developing core-flex policies to be sure that the two components offered either match or exceed what the competition is offering. Failure to do so could result in the loss of top talent to the competition.

In addition, time is required during the implementation of the plan to do a needs assessment for each employee. Without doing these assessments there is a significant risk of not providing the best benefits to the employee or in overspending for unnecessary services.

Finally, another important drawback is the possibility for dissatisfaction among employees. If an employee learns that a coworker received a benefit that they didn't, there's the potential for resentment, which could lead to diminished employee engagement and possibly, attrition. There is also an increased likelihood for exception requests and negotiation. A well-designed and properly executed core-flex policy with clear policy language regarding flex options, management and intention, can reduce these problems.

Guide to Core-Flex Policies

Topics: global mobility, core-flex policies, talent mobility

Mobility and the 2018 U.S. Tax Reform Bill

Posted by Jim Retzer on Fri, Jan 12, 2018

CapRelo has been closely following the changes to the U.S. tax laws and advising clients on the best ways to adjust policies. The IRS is currently reviewing the changes to determine how to implement them, and we will update this information when the IRS finalizes and confirms their implementation plans.

The new U.S. tax bill passed through Congress and has been signed into law by the President. Below are some of the key impacts on mobility:

  • All van line expenses (HHG) and final move expenses will now be taxable.
    • This means there is no more 50 mile test, 39 week test or 1 year rule.
  • Supplemental rate will change, but the IRS has yet to clarify the change, and other tax brackets will change as well.
    • Gross up calculations and withholding from payments may be impacted.
  • Elimination of itemized deduction and personal exemptions phase-outs.
    • Employees receiving lump sum payments as well as other paid relocation benefits may be impacted.
  • State/local income and property tax deductions will be capped at $10,000.
    • State/local amounts in excess of $10,000 will be considered taxable and subject to gross up.

We welcome the opportunity to consult with you about the tax changes and how you can adjust your global mobility program and benefits. Give us a call at 703-260-3323 or visit

*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: relocation taxes, corporate relocation company, mobility and taxes

Upcoming Relocation Shows and Events - January 2018

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Dec 28, 2017


We will be attending and/or sponsoring the following upcoming events. If you’re attending, look for us and say hi, because it's a great opportunity for us to stay abreast of the latest global relocation trends, as well as develop and strengthen trusted partnerships. 


Global Business News Corporate Policy Roundtable

Date: January 18

Location: Quicken Loans, Scottsdale, AZ

Attendee: Patrick Cacho

The Global Business News roundtable event will discuss workforce trends and talent acquisition.

For more information about the event, click here. 


Southern California Relocation Council 2018 Kick-Off Meeting 

Date: January 25

Location: TBD

Attendee: Patrick Cacho

The SCRC kick-off meeting will feature Worldwide ERC CEO Peggy Smith and a silent auction.

Click here to look for updated information about the event.


Global Business News XponentialX 

Date: January 31

Location: Wells Fargo, San Francisco, CA

Attendee: Patrick Cacho

The XponentialX event will include a keynote address on global HR and international talent mobility and panel and roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, including immigration compliance, innovative expense management, workforce trends and maintaining a human connection in the digital era.

Find more information here.


If you can’t attend, please be sure to follow CapRelo on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Topics: CapRelo Employees

December Mobility Survey

Posted by Amy Mergler on Tue, Dec 26, 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 of the previous month's survey. 

Below are the results for October's survey and this month's survey questions.

October Survey Results

1. Does your company measure employee engagement for your relocated employees?

Yes: 0%
No: 34%
Don't Know: 67%

2. How does your company measure engagement? (Choose all that apply)

Employee Engagement Surveys: 0% 
Observation of Day-to-Day Employee-Management Interactions: 0%
One-on-One Employee Meetings: 67%
Stay/Exit Interviews: 34%
Employee Net Promoter Score: 0%
Unsure: 34%
Other (please specify): 0%

3. Which of the following have you implemented in your talent mobility program to address employee engagement? (Choose all that apply)

Developed mobility policies that are employee friendly while staying within corporate budgets: 34%
Developing mobility solutions that align with your company's culture and workforce as part of your regular benefits program: 34%
Engaged actively with employees' family members to offer support and assistance: 34%
Worked out tax issues before relocations take place: 67%
Unsure: 0%
Other (please specify): 0%


This month's survey addresses mobility and taxes.  


Create your own user feedback survey

Topics: relocation packages, calculating tax gross up, relocation taxes, employee relocation

What Are the Risk Areas of Business Travel?

Posted by Amy Mergler on Wed, Dec 13, 2017

business traveler.pngThe time and financial constraints associated with rotational or long-term assignments are pressuring many companies to solve their need for global talent mobility with short-term business travel. However, according to research by BAL Corporate Immigration, more than 80 percent of companies do not have formal policies in place to manage, support and monitor their traveling employees. If your company plans to use business travel as a global mobility option, it would make sense to have the global mobility team or a global mobility management company manage this function for compliance and efficiency. A lack of management and oversight places individual employees and companies at risk in the following areas:


Every country has its own visa requirements and restrictions. These specify how long business travelers may stay and what types of activities they may engage in when traveling on specific visa types. For example, a company may issue a business visitor visa that permits stays of up to 30 days for conferences, meetings and training. In general, a breach of these restrictions consists of extending a visit without renewing a visa or engaging in business activities that could be construed as gainful employment or providing services that directly benefit a client company. Unfortunately, managers and employees aren’t always informed about visa restrictions. This can result in ad hoc extensions of short-term visits or business travelers unwittingly participating in business activities that are prohibited.

It’s important to understand the precise conditions for each visa and each country. Especially since an increasing number of countries are tightening border controls, keeping accurate records is key to avoiding penalties for both individuals and employers.

Tax Compliance

Business travel can have significant consequences for tax compliance. The duration of an employee’s visit, the types of professional activities in which he or she engages during that visit and factors pertaining to remuneration need to be assessed to determine whether there’s a reporting requirement in the host country. If so, does this reporting requirement pertain to the employee, the employer or both?

Additionally, employers must be aware of the tax implications of and what creates a Permanent Establishment (PE) in a host country. Tests for determining whether a PE exists will vary by country, but generally the type of work performed and the length of time operating in the host country will be taken into account. It’s important to research and understand the host country’s Permanent Establishment laws to ensure compliance and minimize tax liability risk.

The international tax regulation and compliance landscape is complex. Moreover, considering current political changes in the U.S. and Europe, tax regulation and compliance are likely to keep developing for the foreseeable future. Employers need to ensure they’re always up to date on taxation thresholds and international treaties so they can take action to comply with reporting requirements for their employees and the corporation.


Many managers assume that sending employees overseas has no impact on those workers’ salaries. However, this can be a potential pitfall for both the company and its workforce. Depending on a business traveler’s visa and the length of the stay in the host country, payroll could very well be affected. Employers might have to assume the payroll obligations of the host country, for example by meeting local taxation and social security obligations.

Navigating payroll for business travelers can become an incredibly complicated matter for HR departments to manage.


Most companies establish some form of tracking for business travelers. This is intended to provide legal, HR, payroll and accounting departments with the information necessary to meet immigration, tax reporting and payroll requirements. Tracking data about flights, hotel bookings, rental cars and business expenses charged to a corporate credit card is generally considered to be a normal business practice that doesn’t affect a business traveler’s privacy. However, other tracking methods, such as GPS tracking data and/or collecting data from employee-owned devices can be construed as an infringement on an employee’s right to privacy. This is particularly important in areas like Europe, where individuals enjoy more privacy protection than in the U.S. However, even some U.S. companies find their need to track data conflicting with their corporate privacy policies.


Safety for the business traveler has also become a major concern, as we see rising numbers of terror threats, natural disasters, diseases and other potential dangers. It’s essential for employers to ensure their traveling employees’ safety and well-being. The employer must know where every traveling employee is at all times, and be able to reach them. This can be done by itinerary or by using GPS tracking technology.


Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) is a tax planning strategy used by multinational companies where they report or shift profits or income to low-tax or no-tax locations to avoid paying taxes elsewhere. Currently, there is a focus on tax rules and regulations to ensure that profits are taxed where economic activities generating the profits are performed. This has translated into a need for employers to not only track business travelers from a safety perspective, but also from a “purpose perspective.” For example, if an employee traveled to a different country for training, when no profit was generated, there would be no tax liability; however a sales employee traveling to finalize the signing of a new contract may result in the company being required to pay tax on the contract in the country of signing.

Download Our Guide to Managing Business Travelers

Topics: business travlers, business traveler management

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