Workforce Global Mobility is an increasingly common consideration for businesses that operate in multiple jurisdictions and can result in significant increases to staffing costs, over and above the standard payroll and employment tax considerations. Hiring staff from overseas is also increasingly common, which can create challenges for the employer. Covering the costs associated with relocation is standard practice when transferring employees to Ireland. However, there are various tax implications that must be taken into account at the planning stage to minimise potential liabilities.
Revenue’s Tax and Duty Manual Part 05-02-03, Removal and Relocation Expenses, notes:
"The taxation of certain removal and relocation expenses should be relaxed in genuine cases of employees having to incur expenses to move to a new employment location, where the payment made by the employer towards the expenses results in no net overall benefit to the employee." Source: revenue.ie.
As is the case with all expense reimbursements, Revenue require payments to be matched with receipted expenditure, with the exception of temporary subsistence allowances. Employers are permitted to pay a temporary subsistence allowance to employees while they are looking for accommodation in their new location. The amount allowable is based on 10 nights at the Civil Service Rates (up to €147 per night).
It is important to note that the amount reimbursed cannot be greater than the cost borne by the employee.
According to Revenue, the following are the conditions that must be satisfied to allow removal and relocation expenses to be paid tax-free:
- there are actual removal and relocation expenses; - the expenses are for a reasonable amount; - the payment of the expenses is properly controlled; and - moving house is necessary. Source: revenue.ie.
There is no definitive list of the expenses which can be claimed back tax-free, so it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that any payments meet the prescribed conditions, however, some of the more common items include:
Travelling expenses may also be included, along with up to three months of vouched rent in temporary accommodation (both rent and temporary subsistence cannot be paid).
Payments towards the cost of purchasing or building a house cannot be paid tax-free, and similarly, amounts paid towards either loans or bridging loan interest would also be considered taxable pay.
As previously noted, all relocation payments (other than temporary subsistence) must be matched with receipted expenditure, so any relevant receipts, invoices, statements and proofs of purchase must be kept by the employer. All such records must be retained for a period of six years from the tax year-end to which the records refer.
Related payroll insights article: SARP For Employers.
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