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In a situation where you start a job:

  • $30k taxable relocation benefits
  • $18k tax grossup (FICA/federal/state income tax)
  • Relocation owed back decreases 1/24 monthly until 2 years pass
  • Relocation all paid out in 2020
  • Start date of 1/1/2020

I am assuming that if you have a tax grossup and leave, that is considered part of the relocation paid by the company for purposes of paying reloc back. What I do not understand are the tax implications for relocation payback in these types of scenarios:

  1. Leave 2/1/2020 (So have vested 1/24th of the total relocation amount)
  2. Leave 1/1/2021 (vesting 1/2 total amount)

If it matters, the pay back would happen in 2020/2021 respectively.

How would these scenarios impact your taxes?

  • You initially receive $48,000 in taxable income that will be reported on your 2020 tax return. I believe you can ignore any amounts you pay back before the end of 2020, as if you had never received it. If you pay back any amount in 2021, you may be able to file amended 2020 returns to reflect how much of the benefit you actually kept, or report "negative" income on your 2021 return. – chepner Aug 7 at 20:33
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For the 2021 reimbursement, assuming this is post 2017, the answer depends on how much you repaid.

If you repaid more than $3000, then you can follow the instructions in Publication 525 under "Repayments" to claim a credit on your 2021 taxes (on Form 1040). Note that you cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction anymore (post 2017), so you may only do this if it is over $3000. The assumption is you are an employee - as a consultant the answer could be slightly different if it was a business expense.

For the 2020 reimbursement, it should have no impact on taxes other than reducing the 23/24ths income, since it's all within one year.

The steps from Pub. 525:

Method 2. Figure your tax for the year of repayment claiming a credit for the repaid amount. Follow these steps.

  1. Figure your tax for the year of repayment without deducting the repaid amount.

  2. Refigure your tax from the earlier year without including in income the amount you repaid in the year of repayment.

  3. Subtract the tax in (2) from the tax shown on your return for the earlier year. This is the credit.

I believe the credit would go on Schedule 3, line 13.

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  • Ok, so assuming that the taxes was calculated perfect on the grossup - that the relocation required $18k in tax grossup to be "zero" impact on me - filing in 2021 would result in receiving a decent percentage of the tax bonus back. – enderland Aug 8 at 0:16

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