On April 20, 2017, the Province of Ontario enacted a 15 per cent non-resident speculation tax (NRST) on the purchase or acquisition of properties in Metropolitan Toronto and its surrounding areas, referred to as the “Greater Golden Horseshoe” (GGH).
The GGH incorporates the greater Toronto area, including Toronto itself as well as Brant, Dufferin, Durham, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Kawartha Lakes, Niagara, Northumberland, Peel, Peterborough, Simcoe, Waterloo, Wellington and York.
Similar to the 15% NRST tax imposed for greater Vancouver area in British Columbia in August 2016, the Ontario NRST, which went into effect on April 21, 2017, is intended to hamper the bid-up by foreign buyers/corporations in the metropolitan Toronto residential housing markets. The announcement was included as part of the 16-point proposal introduced in the Ontario government’s Fair Housing Plan, which aims to bring stability to Ontario’s real estate market.
While research shows a growing number of millennials choosing to purchase homes, the majority of this demographic still prefer to rent, especially in metropolitan areas, which are far more attractive to skilled employees looking for work/life opportunities in vibrant cities.
Of course, as the experts say, living in these locations ain’t cheap. Especially in New York City, where the median rent for a two bedroom apartment is $1,638 in the metro area and $3,895 in Manhattan. Groceries in NYC cost 28-39% more than the national average and public transportation is about 75% higher than the average city.
Companies certainly feel that this can be a deterrent to mobile employees, which is why cost-of-living allowances are on the rise. According to Worldwide ERC’s recent Relocation Assistance, U.S. Domestic Moves survey, 39 percent of companies reported using such allowances in 2016 versus 32 percent in 2012. Among companies reporting difficulty in transferring employees to high-cost areas, the most frequently cited reason (by 80 percent of respondents) was “very high housing costs.” Continue Reading →
On November 1, 2016, China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) launched a pilot work permit program in select regions of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong, Sichuan and Ningxia. The program is widely anticipated to roll out nationwide on April 1, 2017.
China’s previous foreign work permits have been integrated into the Permit System for Foreigners in China, a single work permit based on a three-tiered classification system. The permit provides a federal model, eliminating the often troublesome and inconsistent regionally administered policies.
The three-tiered system classifies foreign workers as A, B or C level candidates, based on their education, salary level, age, time spent working in China and Chinese language skills. Applicants who receive more than 85 points are given the letter A, 60 to 85 points, B, and less than 60 points, C. Continue Reading →
While the 2nd and revised Executive Order (EO) banning visitors from specific countries is suspended and subject to review by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in May, individuals from the targeted countries have been greatly concerned about their ability to travel freely to and from the US.
Furthermore, the temporary removal of premium processing of H-1B visas has shut down the ability of persons working legally in the U.S. from obtaining permanent status. In the past, with premium processing, they could expedite the transition process and be able to travel more quickly and freely. Without it, newly arrived H-1Bs are “stuck” in the US until their status is finalized.
There is also talk of reducing the H-1B cap altogether, which potentially reduces foreign born workforce in the US. Why does this matter? Overall, higher scrutiny and an approval process with more qualifiers and restrictions may impact access to H-1Bs in the future. Changes may include controls for employers to take additional steps to fill positions with U.S. workers, a significant minimum salary increase for H-1B holders and removal of the master’s degree exception, phasing out work eligibility for trailing spouses of H-1B holders, and prioritizing H-1Bs for foreign students who have studied in the U.S.
UK Customs (HMRC) has announced changes to customs procedures for household goods and motor vehicles entering the UK that will impact assignees being relocated to this region. This change goes into effect on 31 March 2017 and shifts responsibility for completing the Transfer of Residence (ToR) application from the shipper to the owner of the goods being shipped (in this case, the assignee).
Under these new guidelines, assignees moving to the UK are required to complete an online application for ToR relief. This form can be found here.
Once the online ToR form is completed and approved, the assignee will be sent a unique reference code which will allow the freight to be cleared and released by the HMRC. This reference code is critical and it is the responsibility of the assignee to ensure that it is issued in good time; therefore, your assignee should advice his or her Weichert contact as soon as it is received. If a shipment arrives in the UK without a reference code, it could be delayed or refused clearance.
I’ve recently received a number of questions from various corporate managers on the topic of host country housing. In this post, I’ve collected their questions and my answers.
Do companies typically give people their “housing ranges” based on salary level?
These days most of my clients are using “family size” as the number one criterion and the moderate tables for all assignments, with salary playing a secondary role.
When US-outbound assignees make the personal decision to sell their homes, even though we strongly encourage them NOT to sell, we do not feel that the company should provide assistance toward temporary living and/or meals and incidentals during a home leave. Would our stance be standard market practice?
Absolutely. If you indicate that you are not supporting home sale — which is the trending best practice — then it would be standard to say, “you’re on your own” for any home sale-related costs. These days there is a definite trend to taking a “laissez faire” approach to all home country housing concerns. In fact, less than 40% of companies are no longer taking a home housing deduction. The approach is that the company will take on full responsibility of the host housing, but that the assignee remains responsible for whatever he/she does with home country housing. When it comes to home leave, it is expected that the home is available for use. If the individual has chosen to rent the house, there may be an issue, but that would be treated as an exception. Most clients are recognizing that if the employee is collecting rent (read: financially benefiting) on the home country housing, then there’s no obligation to provide assistance with any expenses beyond transportation for home leave. Continue Reading →
Our recent two-part webinar series on cost optimization drew large corporate attendance, no doubt eager to hear their peers talk at length about their experience collaborating with Weichert to optimize program costs. While three of our four corporate presenters have had their existing programs in place for many years and the other is just beginning its journey as a newly formed company with a developing global mobility program, all four agreed that program optimization is an ongoing, iterative process.
As you might imagine, attendees had plenty of questions for our panelists. And while they did an admirable job of responding, there were too many to address in our one hour sessions. In this post, we present the unanswered questions with feedback from our panelists.
To make sure we only use mobility as a tool to support well thought-out business strategies, I find it critical to hold the line on requiring a business case for each assignment, and thus control costs by eliminating unnecessary assignments. Would you agree? Continue Reading →
Last month, over 400 people registered for part one of our informative webinar series on controlling the cost of managing a globally mobile workforce. This month, we’re proud to present part two, which will feature corporate mobility managers discussing innovative methods for balancing and weighing priorities, strategic and tactical program design tips that have resulted in cost control, and the latest most popular cost savings measures.
Sharing their stories with us will be Judy Clark from Boston Scientific and Gosia Piasecka-Manos from The Chemours Company. I will once again be leading the discussion.
This is valuable info that can help you affect positive change throughout your mobility program and across your organization, so I hope you’ll register today to join us on Thursday, February 16 at 11:30am ET.
Please note that this session is free to corporate mobility managers and HR professionals only.
Among the greatest challenges facing managers of mobile employees and business travelers, three stand tall: remaining compliant with ever-changing visa/immigration laws, accurately tracking days in specific locations for tax purposes, and the ability to contact expatriate employees in the event of emergency. We are proud to announce the first app to simplify and streamline all three, the Weichert Global Organizer.
This app improves visa/tax compliance by tracking time in each location, alerting the employee and HR of pending tax or immigration events—such as visa renewal or days in a certain jurisdiction triggering tax liability. These features allow HR managers to be proactive, rather than reactive, to any concerns. Further, at tax time, all of the critical data that the employee and company need for filing and reporting is easily accessible in one place.
Additionally, in the event of an emergency, the app empowers HR managers to instantly locate their employees at any point on the globe, alert them to danger and, if necessary, evacuate them to a place of safety.