Being a global mobility manager often requires wearing many hats. Leading an internal team and a slew of outsourced partners around the world to manage a corporate global mobility program requires a plethora of key skills and capabilities.
Not to mention global mobility managers must have the ability to engage in long and short term strategic planning and also transact on tactical day-to-day issues, all while attempting to build programs that are compliant, effective (cost and service) and efficient.
They need to look at the granular and step back and look again from 30,000 feet. They must be detail and process driven and also innovative and creative They must have a strong working knowledge of every aspect of the program from policy and all the specific benefits and approaches, to supply-chain management, to immigration requirements, to talent management agendas and, of course, to the unavoidable finance and tax side.
As expatriate tax matters become increasingly complex, and with home and host locations expanding into developing countries, global mobility managers face a difficult task. Their role (and the related internal departments and external tax partners) revolves around the following actions when it comes to expatriate tax:
- Determining the overall policy strategy and treatment (tax equalization, tax protection, laissez-faire, ad hoc)
- Establishing what income the policy should cover (company source, personal)
- Establishing hypothetical tax formulas and ensure appropriate tax withholdings
- Managing the services of the external tax provider
- Ensuring compliance with home and host tax regulations
The discussion provides an overview of each aspect and issues to consider when making policy decisions around tax. Karen Cygal and Roger Herod from Mercer do a great job of explaining, "The Role of Human Resources in Expatriate Tax Matters."
Home-country and foreign tax laws, as well as a company’s policy, determine how the employer will treat the assignee’s spouse or partner’s income, the assignee’s income from investments and other sources not related to the company, any property ownership, and other such matters. In general, however, the majority of multinational companies attempt to focus their expatriate compensation programs, including the treatment of income tax, around the following principles: The assignee will neither gain a windfall nor suffer undue financial burden as a result of the special circumstances and complexity of compensation and tax matters while on an international assignment. The assignee and employer must comply fully with the tax laws and fi ling requirements of both home and host governments. Tax policies are fair and reasonable, equitable to all employees, cost-effective, easy to administer, and easy to understand.