Published on March 12, 2021

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The CapRelo Insider provides a glimpse at news, trends and happenings affecting the global mobility industry. Our experienced and tenured client services team provides updates and analysis direct to our clients, along with policy and program recommendations that are best for your company and employees. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.

Policy & Program Pointers

During these extreme times, usual policy allowances and benefits might not be meeting employee needs. Below we outline items we are seeing in the field. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you adjust your policy or program to accommodate your employees.

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

With the success of global vaccine programs and encouraging news there has been a resurgence of hope and optimism regarding travel. With the travel industry significantly impacted and staff and supply reduced, there may be a lag in the ability of companies to immediately cater for an increase in demand.

Car Rental: One industry that may be significantly impacted is rental cars providers as demonstrated by one of global provider Hertz declaring bankruptcy in May 2020. Although Hertz continues to operate they have reduced their fleet significantly (up to 45%). Other providers have taken similar pre-emptive action with Avis stating that they have offloaded several thousand vehicles towards the end of 2020 . Combined with the anticipated increase in demand for personal in place of public transportation there is likely to be an increased in rental cars for both personal and business travel. As a result of a recent EHI survey support 59% of travellers said that car rental would be the preferred method. For globally mobile individuals, early booking is advised to ensure that they are not impacted by this potential shortage.

Shipping: As previously reported, global shortages of shipping containers, equipment shortages, sailing delays, import delays and port congestion worldwide continue. It is anticipated that the inflated freight rates will continue for several months with reduced capacity. Delays are currently as much as 5 weeks between US and Europe with “global container service scheduled reliability has declined to its lowest levels. Less than 50% of vessels are arriving on time”.

Country Updates in the News

Countries are updating their tax and immigration regulations and reliefs on a near daily basis, we have collated some of these below:

United States:

  • Housing: Due to increased optimism regarding the economic outlook, there appears to be an end to the low mortgage rates experienced over the past few months with mortgage rates increasing by an average of 0.30 percent since the lowest point in January. However, the housing market remains brisk with low stock of inventory and no indication of a slowdown in home purchase activity.
  • Immigration: The new administration has revoked a temporary suspension on the issuance of certain immigrant visas implemented by the former. Relevant for global mobility the legislation should streamline multiple employment-based programs for non-immigrant and immigrant visas.

Argentina: A series of measures aimed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 have been announced extending the lockdown for the Buenos Aires metropolitan region until 12 March 2021. The Argentina’s borders will also be remained closed for tourism purposes until this time with flights from certain locations, including the United States, Mexico and Europe also limited by frequency to 30% capacity.

Belgium: Certain benefits and temporary housing for a period longer than three months may no longer qualify as non-taxable benefits for Foreign nationals under the special expatriate tax regime. Recent clarification as taxable of benefits, including the provision of tax return assistance costs provided by employers has been provided and will be applied retroactively. Any change in approach could have an impact on the employer’s reporting and withholding tax obligations and should be reviewed if there is an impacted population.

China: Guidance has been issued which provides details of the taxpayers’ filing procedures and the Annual Reconciliation requirement for the employee. There is also information provided on the application process for the 2020 tax refund in addition to the introduction of a “first breach without penalty” system. Where employers have populations in China, it is recommended that this guidance is reviewed, and processes are updated as required. People’s Republic of China – Individual Income Tax Filing Procedures Clarified

Germany: Employers with foreign nationals renewing or applying for EU Blue cards in Germany in 2021 should review the revised Minimum Salary increases which became effective 1 January 2021 to ensure that they meet the revised requirements. There are two salary thresholds to be referenced, the regular Blue Card holders and those Blue Card holders in shortage occupations. Both thresholds have increased slightly and in addition to the salary the employer should ensure that employment conditions match the local standards, and any job description is provided in the official format.

Singapore: Dependant’s Pass holders currently apply for a Letter of Consent to be able to work in Singapore however, effective 1 May 2021 there will be a requirement to secure a work pass. A concession applies for existing letters of consent to remain valid until expiry with a requirement to apply for a work pass to continue working in Singapore. Employers that hire Dependant’s Pass holders will have to comply with the conditions for hiring foreign nationals, including relevant qualifying salary, employee quotas and levies.

United Kingdom: In positive news, in line with the Roadmap Out Of Lockdown schools in England have reopened effective 8 March 2021. However, this has been accompanied by the introduction of a declaration form that needs to be completed by any traveller leaving the England. The form, intended to deter unnecessary travel must be complete and state the reason for any international travel. Passengers who are identified by police as attempting to travel internationally for reasons that are not currently permitted will be asked to return home and risk receiving a fixed penalty notice for breaking stay-at-home rules. These fines start at GBP 200 and ladder up to a maximum of GBP 6,400. Different rules apply for international travel from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and there are limited exemptions.

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