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The last of the publications in series “12 Rules of the Cross-Border Secondment of Employees” presents doubts regarding some issues of income taxation in case of seconding an employee. In this series we will present the most important issues related to the process of seconding employees to Poland and from Poland. Each publication will present an individual issue in details. The entire series of articles will be a compendium of general knowledge on the cross-border seconding of employees.

Tax equalization in Poland

It often happens that an employee who is tax resident in Poland is also obliged to pay tax in the country of secondment. Such a situation occurs when the regulations of the country of secondment impose an obligation on the employee to tax income for work performed in that country.

In order to avoid a situation in which the employee’s remuneration will be lower due to a higher level of taxation in the host country (compared to the tax burden that would have been imposed in Poland), the solution is to apply the tax equalization method. This method is about employer covering the difference between the foreign tax and the hypothetical tax that would be due in Poland. Thus, the employee will receive the net amount of remuneration that he would have received while working in Poland and not being subject to any additional burden.

The tax equalization method generates a doubt as to whether the employer’s expenses incurred in connection with the payment of foreign obligations constitute taxable employment cash benefits for the employee.

Following the definition of income in the PIT Act, the expenses incurred by the employer to cover the employee’s obligations allow the employee to avoid an expense, which in effect constitutes an accrual. The above is in line with the practice of the tax authorities.

Income components – Polish regulations

On the subject of the employment relationship during secondment, questions also arise regarding the components of an employee’s income that are taxable.

During the period of secondment, employees receive various additional benefits, such as separation benefit from their families, reimbursement of accommodation costs, travel expenses and business trip allowance. Under Polish tax law, these allowances constitute the employee’s income and must be taxed. Exceptions to this rule are set out in the PIT Act.

Doubts arise if the employee’s income is also or only taxable in another country, in which case it must be verified whether individual components of the remuneration are taxable under the laws of the country of secondment or under a double taxation agreement.

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Motivational programs – Polish regulations

As a result of incentive programmes implemented by the employing company, employees may receive shares in that company. Under Polish tax regulations, income on this account arises on the part of the employee, however, only at the time of the disposal of shares in exchange for consideration. This simplifies tax settlements.

It may happen that at the time of acquisition of the option, the employee was tax resident in Poland, but was subsequently seconded and lost Polish tax residence. At the moment of disposal of the shares for consideration, the employee is already tax resident in the country of secondment. The question then often arises as to where such income should be taxed. The position of the tax authorities is divergent in this respect, so it is worth obtaining an individual interpretation in your own case.

In summary, the change of tax residence and place of taxation of employment income raises many questions, examples of which are those described in this article. In order to safeguard the interests of the taxpayer, it is often a good idea to obtain an individual interpretation.

The series of “12 Rules of the Cross-Border Secondment of Employees” consists of the following articles:

  1. Cross-border secondment of employees
  2. Secondment and delegation
  3. Employee seconded to work in Poland
  4. Employee abroad – taxes in Poland
  5. Secondment – social and health insurance
  6. Secondment – documentation
  7. Secondment – double taxation agreements
  8. Secondment – income taxation in different countries
  9. Secondment – annual tax return
  10. Cross-border secondment of workers Directive
  11. Secondment – tax advisor assistance
  12. Secondment – additional questions

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