What is tax gross up? A tax gross up means the company has increased an employee’s pay, bonus, or any other taxable income so the employee doesn’t actually pay his/her own (estimated) tax. If they are told they are getting a million dollar bonus, the tax gross up means they actually get a check for $1 million after taxes. As most relocation costs are considered income to the transferee and subject to tax, tax gross up has the potential to greatly increase a corporation’s relocation cost.
Tax gross up is a legal business practice. If it is not done correctly, it can result in an audit and can bring adverse affects on your transferring employee and your corporation. An incorrectly filed tax gross up could mean employees might have to file a tax extension. In some cases, they might need to file an amended tax return owing to wrong W-2 statements. It’s advisable to hire services from a third party relocation management company that offers gross up tax assistance.
Gross-up/tax assistance on taxable relocation expenses is not required by the IRS; gross-up is a benefit that a company chooses to give to transferees who qualify. Most relocation policies offer some sort of tax assistance to transferees so their out-of-pocket tax costs due to the relocation are eliminated or reduced. One thing to keep in mind is that the gross-up payment itself also is taxable to the employee and subject to withholding and payroll tax. Therefore, to fully tax protect the employee, the gross-up must itself be “grossed up,” and the gross-up of the gross-up must be grossed up, and so on.
There are a few different methods used to calculate the gross up (inverse method, true up and simple method) and depending on how a company calculates the gross up, an employee may still end up owing money at tax time. Below is a comprehensive explanation of how each method applies to income. Managements generally maintain that the tax gross-up is a valuable tool for hiring and retaining talented executives. It is generally accepted within the relocation industry that transferees should not have to absorb the stress of relocation and suffer financially as well.