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March 24, 2011 | Rachel Murillo

Mobility Updates

When it comes to compliance on your globally mobile employees, one of the most challenging aspects of achieving or maintaining compliance on tax withholding and reporting for your globally mobile employees is keeping pace with changes to applicable legislation and standards. Today, I highlight the top three recent changes that might impact your global mobility compliance.

France

Effective April 1, 2011, withholding on nonresident income from French-qualified awards will be required by employers. Fortunately, this is only applicable to the French-sourced portion of the income, but it is a change from the current withholding requirements. Like other tax withholding issues in France, there is always the thread of jail time or individual financial penalties for failure to comply. You can find more information about this legislation in the Pricewaterhouse Coopers article, Recent Legislative Updates.

China

As noted in this Ernst & Young alert, China will begin requiring employers to make of social security insurance contributions for all employees, including foreigners working in the PRC in July of 2011. Associated with this requirement is a host of administration concerns including actually enrolling nonresident employees with the appropriate social insurance agency, completing monthly contribution reporting, and issuing applicable termination certificates. To put some teeth in the requirement, there will also be a greater liability for noncompliance including fines of up to 300% of the missed payments.

United Kingdom

Thankfully, there is some relatively good news from the United Kingdom. Included in the new budget is the potential for some relief for mobile employees. Although not in the form of a tax break or even easier withholding processes, the UK Treasury has finally determined that it is time for a statutory definition of residence. Currently, residency in the UK is particularly ambiguous and based mostly on interpretations of case law and HMRC practice because the essential concepts of residence, ordinarily residence, and domicile are not clearly defined in UK tax law. As Deloitte highlighted in this alert from March of last year, the landmark case of Robert Ganes-Cooper created confusion for individuals and companies after it was determined that Mr. Ganes-Cooper was a tax resident. (You can also check out both Mr. Ganes-Cooper's version of the facts and the HMRC's statement on the case.) Although Mr. Ganes-Cooper satisfied the requirements outlined in the IR20 (The IR20 was replaced by HMRC6 in 2009), he didn't actually leave the UK for tax purposes, which means he is still a resident and that the IR20 is not applicable.

This isn't the first time that there has been a call for a clear definition regarding residency. In fact, both the IR20 and subsequent HRMC6 were intended to provide a clear test. The Treasury is hoping to create a new residency test in 2011 and will begin a consultation process on the subject in June of 2011. I am curious to see what ambiguity can be cleared up by the new test once it is available.

-Rachel

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