With your year-end tax reporting completed (or close to it, hopefully) now’s the time to start planning for a pain-free 2019.
The following tips can help you improve the overall process to boost compliance and reduce, or eliminate late filings and W-2C amendments that will inevitably cost you more time, money and sanity.
- While it’s still fresh in your mind, make a list of the things that worked well in preparing the 2018 year-end and what needs to be addressed for next year. Even if you only had to do one W-2C, why chance that the one mistake that could be for a senior level executive? Bottom line: There is always room for improvement.
- Ask your assignment administration provider and your expatriate tax firm to create a similar list, with their perspectives on what worked and what didn’t.
- Same for the individuals in your overseas offices who are responsible for providing data for the year-end process.
- Meet with your assignment administration provider and your expatriate tax firm to begin planning for 2019. Review successes, challenges and the reason for any W-2Cs from the previous year. Assess any anticipated changes to your process or technology. Develop a project plan and a responsibility list to assign accountability for critical tasks. This will encourage collaboration and efficient teamwork.
- Consider collecting data quarterly (which would make year-end “just another quarter”) or even monthly, if possible. Document your timeline and cut-off dates and distribute it to key constituents.
- Consider uploading collected and reviewed data quarterly. Many governments require reporting on a timelier basis than annually.
- Make sure that any discrepancies in state and local tax data between your tax provider and your payroll department are discussed and resolved before year-end. This will prevent delays in processing the year-end “add to earnings” file.
- Review security protocols for the way data is passed between overseas offices, vendors and payroll.
- Consider consolidating payment sources, which would make data collection that much easier.
- Review data as it is collected throughout the year. This will help you catch things like exceptions to policy that might be paid in the host location.
One final piece of advice: Start now!
Ideally, planning for next year should begin as soon as the prior year is finalized.