IRS gives taxpayers a break on employee moving expenses

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The Internal Revenue Service is allowing people to continue to deduct employer payments or reimbursements for employee moving expenses, as long as they happened before this year, although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will change that for this year and going forward.

The IRS said Friday that employer payments or reimbursements in 2018 for employees’ moving expenses that were incurred prior to 2018 can be excluded from an employee’s wages for income and employment tax purposes.

The tax overhaul that Congress passed last year suspended the exclusion from income for moving expenses reimbursed or paid by an employer for most employees starting this year, so those amounts are now taxable, except for active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces whose moves are tied to a military-ordered permanent change of station.

Now, under Notice 2018-75, the IRS said Friday that reimbursements paid by an employer to an employee in 2018 for qualified moving expenses incurred in a prior year aren’t subject to either federal income or employment taxes. The same holds true if the employer pays a moving company in 2018 for qualified moving services provided to an employee prior to 2018.

To qualify, any reimbursements or payments have to be for work-related moving expenses that would have been deductible by the employee if the employee had directly paid them before Jan. 1, 2018. The employee must not have deducted them in 2017. For more information on the 2017 rules, see Form 3903 or Publication 521.

Employers that have already treated the reimbursements or payments as taxable events can follow the normal employment tax adjustment and refund procedures. See Publication 15, Section 13, or Form 941-X and its instructions for details.

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