facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
Equity Management: Equity Withholding and Reporting for Relocating Employees Thumbnail

Equity Management: Equity Withholding and Reporting for Relocating Employees

Understanding the intricacies of employee relocation can be daunting, especially when dealing with the associated tax consequences and equity management. For financially conscious, educated, or upper-class immigrants, it's crucial to establish harmony between addressing relocation requirements and effectively handling taxes and equity.

Let’s look at the tax implications and guidelines for equity management when you or a team member in your organization relocates. 

Related Article | The Finance Dictionary: Learn the Jargon your Finance Friends Speak!

Relocation vs. Tax and Equity

Considering the potential impact on taxes and home equity for individuals contemplating a move for job prospects or corporate relocations, making informed decisions becomes paramount. 

If your employer offers aid with relocation expenses such as transport, temporary accommodation, or storage charges, these benefits might fall under federal income tax and FICA deductions. This remains the case even if a responsible plan is in effect (until 2025). 

Beyond these expenses influencing tax obligations, employees on the move to a new property should also account for equity's role in their financial strategy.

Example Scenario

Imagine an upper-level professional named John who has recently accepted a new position within his company that requires him to move from New York to California.

While this assistance may seem like a financial blessing for John's transition, it is also important to recognize potential tax implications. Most of these paid relocation expenses by the employer will be considered taxable income for John, and he must report these amounts on his tax return alongside other earnings such as salary and equity compensation.

In addition to considering taxation-related concerns regarding employee relocation packages or allowances like Buyer Value Option (BVO) home sale programs provided by employers, there are also various compliance matters one should consider when dealing with equity incentives offered by companies during such moves across different states within the United States borders as well.

Tax Concerns for Relocating Employees

Relocating employees face various tax concerns, including taxes and location, payroll and withholding, moving costs, gross-up vs. no gross-up, calculating gross-up, and other equity compensation.

To ensure compliance with IRS rules regarding relocation expenses and taxes for mobile workforces, employers must adequately calculate tax on relocation allowances.

Taxes and Location

Relocating and moving properties for a job can bring about several tax implications, especially when considering the differing tax laws and regulations from one location to another.

One key consideration when relocating is how your income will be taxed based on where you live or work. For example, an employee who moves from a state with no income tax, such as Texas, to a state with a high-income tax, like California, will need to adjust their financial planning accordingly.

In some cases, employees might be subject to double taxation if they must pay taxes in both their home country and new location.

Related Article | The Ultimate Guide on Equity Compensation and Taxation

Payroll and Withholding

Navigating payroll and withholding requirements is critical to ensuring a smooth relocation experience for employees. As they transition to new locations, understanding the tax implications tied to their equity income becomes even more essential.

One key consideration is that employer-paid moving expenses, except BVO home sale programs, are generally considered taxable income.

Managing payroll reporting and withholding for relocating employees can be particularly challenging due to jurisdictional differences in taxation rules. For instance, some states have reciprocity agreements allowing out-of-state employees to avoid dual tax withholdings when working across state lines.

Only the residence state would collect taxes on an employee's earnings in such cases. However, without such agreements, mobile employees may need to account for withholdings in both their work and residence states – adding complexity for them and their employers, who must accurately report this information on financial statements and IRS filings.

Moving Costs

One significant expense to consider when relocating for work is moving costs. These expenses can add up quickly, including the cost for new residents transporting household goods and personal effects.

Understanding the tax implications of these expenses is essential for employees and employers alike. It's important to note that employer-paid relocation expenses are taxable income, so exploring your options is crucial before making any decisions.

Some companies may offer gross-up benefits to help cover the additional taxes incurred with this type of compensation, but that isn't always the case.

Gross-up vs. No Gross-up

When relocating for work, one primary concern for employees is the tax liability associated with their move; this is where gross-up comes into play. Gross-up is when an employer provides additional gross income to relieve the employee of the tax liability that comes with relocation expenses.

Without gross-up, relocating employees may face taxable relocation expenses, and unreimbursed moving expenses are no longer deductible from 2025 onwards. 

The amount of the tax gross-up can be calculated by either the company or a relocation management company (RMC) and ensures that the employee doesn't end up paying out-of-pocket expenses while keeping their overall relocation experience positive.

Calculating Gross-up

When relocating for work, the financial burden can be overwhelming. To ease this burden, some employers offer a relocation tax gross-up that covers the taxes associated with moving expenses.

But how is this "gross-up" calculated? It's simple - take one minus the tax rate and divide the taxable expenses by that amount. 

For example, if an employee incurs $10,000 in taxable relocation expenses and has a 30% tax rate, their gross-up would be $14,286.

This means their employer would cover this additional amount to ensure they receive the full $10,000 without any deductions or liabilities.

Related Article | Wash Sale Rule Related to Equity Compensation (RSUs, ESPP, ISOs)

Other Equity Compensation

Equity-based compensation is any form of compensation paid to employees, directors, or independent contractors based on the value of equity. These include assets like stock options, restricted stock units (RSUs), and performance shares.

Equity compensation can be a valuable tool for attracting and retaining top talent in today's competitive job market. However, it is important to understand the tax implications of equity compensation when relocating as an employee.

Payroll reporting and withholding related to equity income may need additional attention for participants of equity-based compensation plans working in multiple locations.

Factors Affecting Equity Compensation Reporting

When it comes to equity compensation reporting, there are various factors that companies and employees need to keep in mind. One such factor is the type of award employees receive, which can result in different reporting income requirements.

Additionally, regulatory compliance is crucial in equity management. Companies must follow regulations like Regulation S-K when reporting on equity compensation plans and related information.

Another important consideration is tax withholding and reporting requirements for equity compensation. Employers must calculate, withhold, pay, and report on taxes related to employee equity programs accurately.

Overall, understanding these factors affecting equity compensation reporting helps both employers and employees navigate these complex arrangements more effectively while complying with local laws and ensuring proper tax payments and compliance at all times.

Why Compliance Matters

Equity management compliance is crucial for companies with a mobile workforce. Failure to follow regulations and reporting requirements can result in hefty penalties, audits, possible lawsuits, and a bad reputation and track record.

Compliance issues related to equity awards must be carefully considered when relocating employees to different locations.

Non-compliance with equity compensation can also lead to tax liabilities and reputational damage for employers. Withholding requirements vary from state to state, making it essential for businesses to stay updated on the ever-changing laws.

Employers must withhold applicable state and local income taxes based on where the employee performs services, including those working remotely across multiple states.

In summary, compliance is critical when managing equity awards for relocating employees or remote workers crossing state lines.

Related Article | How to Avoid Salt Cap With Pass-Through Equity


Do you have questions about moving expenses, employer gross-up, or exercising equity when leaving a company? Check out the frequently asked questions to find answers to these common concerns.

Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?

Moving expenses for employees are generally not tax deductible. However, businesses can deduct an employee's moving expenses as a business expense if included in an employee's standard W-2 wages.

Is It Required for an Employer to Gross IP?

The short answer is no; it's not always required.

In some cases, employers may choose to gross up relocation benefits so that employees can receive the full benefit without worrying about taxes being withheld or owed on those payments.

This approach can be especially helpful for highly compensated executives or other senior-level employees who are relocating across state lines or even internationally and may face significant tax implications.

When Leaving My Company, How Do I Exercise My Equity?

Exercising your equity when leaving a company can be a complex process, and it's important to understand your options. If you have vested employee stock options, you typically only have a short window of time to exercise them before they expire.

When making this decision, it's important to consider factors such as capital gains tax and financial planning. In addition, if you have investments like restricted stock units (RSUs), these may be forfeited upon termination, so it's important to understand the terms of your equity compensation package.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, it's crucial for both employers and employees to understand the tax implications and reporting requirements related to equity compensation when relocating.

Compliance with employment tax regulations is critical because non-compliance can result in hefty penalties.

By adhering to regulatory requirements, employers avoid potential legal problems when dealing with mobile workers' compliance issues. On the other hand, employees benefit from understanding their options while ensuring they minimize their tax liabilities during relocation.