Moving for Uncle Sam: Who pays?

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says with the new Tax Reform Act some feds now foot the bill for moving costs when their agency transfers them.

Each year thousands of federal workers move to different parts of the country because of their jobs. They include new hires, employees being transferred because of their jobs and last-move-home payments for some executives in a handful of agencies—many in the law enforcement category—that require frequent geographical reassignments.

The Trump administration has made it clear it wants more mobility in the workforce. Interior is talking about shifting many jobs from Washington headquarters to posts west of the Mississippi at national parks and federal land areas. So who pays for the moves? Back in the day Uncle Sam usually footed the bill. But with the new Tax Reform Act experts are scratching their heads as to what’s deductible. That includes the Internal Revenue Service.

Although America’s tax program is the envy of the world (because of the high-rate of voluntary compliance) it is also—thanks almost exclusively to politicians—one of the most complicated. Not that long ago the Secretary of the Treasury—a giant of Wall Street before moving here—tried to do his own taxes and messed them up.

The Affordable Care Act of the Obama administration made things even more complex for the IRS and added loads of work at a time when Congress was cutting its staff and budget. Now much the same thing is happening thanks to the Trump administration Tax Reform Act which has insider experts at the IRS scratching their heads and looking for guidance.

The Professional Managers Association has asked its expert for the IRS for a heads-up. It recently sent an all-hands e-mail which said:

“Dear IRS Colleagues:

We are reaching out to you today because we understand that agencies and employees are being impacted by the new tax law as it pertains to relocating government employees – for new hires, SES last move home, as well as for current employees.

We understand that employees are personally being impacted by new fees and charges taken out of their paychecks due to gross-up costs related to now non-deductible household goods being moved, and agencies are facing challenges as they work to efficiently get personnel to new duty stations. We can only imagine this is exacerbating hiring and onboarding challenges at agencies. We have heard that some federal employees have refused relocations because they cannot afford the hit on their paycheck, and agencies are cancelling reassignments or using inefficient work-arounds like long-term TDY (temporary duty).

We are in a rapid fact finding mode, and would welcome data or information that you all might be able to provide to help explain these issues and the impacts – we have posed this issue to the HCO Office.

Once it has input from members the plan is to draft up a letter to the GSA Administrator, CCed to IRS Commissioner, to elevate this issue to their attention and the need for expedient resolution. It will also loop in OMB and OPM as appropriate – some of the remedy is around regulatory clarity from IRS for GSA to convey to agencies, and in other areas a statutory fix will be needed…”

Nearly Useless Factoid

By David Thornton

The hole in the doughnut was invented by a sailor, Captain Hanson Gregory, who told the Washington Post in 1916 that he did so because  when the outside was fried perfectly, the inside would still be raw and doughy.

Source: Today I Found Out

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