Settling-In Allowance

What Is a Settling-In Allowance?

A settling-in allowance is money provided as part of relocation expenses to a person who has transferred locations or moved as part of accepting a new job. A settling-in allowance may be given as a lump sum or later reimbursed by the current or new employer upon submission of related receipts. It might be used for expenses such as temporary lodging, meals, storage of personal belongings, and other incidental costs of settling in at a new location. Under some circumstances, relocation expenses may be considered taxable and included on an employee's W2.

Key Takeaways

  • A settling-in allowance is money provided as part of relocation expenses to a person who has transferred locations or moved for a new job.
  • Settling-in allowances can include costs related to temporary lodging, meals, and storage of personal belongings.
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended moving expense deductions along with the exclusion for employer reimbursements and payments of qualified moving expenses. 

Understanding Settling-In Allowance

Companies often assist employees who have to move for work, whether because of a transfer or a new job offer. In addition to a settling-in allowance, they might award a relocation allowance or direct reimbursement for relocation expenses.

Relocation expenses often include transportation, accommodation, and meals for house hunting trips; temporary lodging upon arrival in the new location; as well as moving company and storage costs. Other covered expenses may include costs associated with selling and acquiring a primary residence, such as real estate commissions and other closing costs. For temporary relocation, a company might provide both a settling-in allowance and a living allowance.

Taxes and Settling-In Allowance

Up until 2018, an employer could claim deductions for relocation expenses as qualified moving expenses. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reform passed by former President Trump's administration in Dec. 2017, employers can no longer claim those deductions. They are required to include all moving expenses claimed by an employee as part of their wages.

Per the rule, there are two situations under which employers can claim deductions:

  • An employer pays a third party in 2018 for qualified moving services provided to an employee prior to 2018. 
  • An employer reimburses an employee in 2018 for qualified moving expenses incurred prior to 2018.

Generally, active-duty members of the United States Armed Forces can still exclude qualified moving expense reimbursements from their income if they move pursuant to a military order to a permanent change of station and the moving expenses would qualify as a deduction if the member didn’t get a reimbursement.

Example of Settling-In Allowance

An example of the offering of a settling-in allowance would be when a company establishes a branch or division in a different state and is offering relocation to existing employees in order to have an experienced workforce in place. As part of the relocation incentive, an employer would cover travel and moving costs, as well as assistance with selling an existing property and purchasing a new one. A settling-in allowance would be in addition to these other incentives.

Article Sources
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  1. Federal Register. "Federal Travel Regulations; Taxes on Relocation Expenses, Relocation Expense Reimbursement." Accessed Feb. 1, 2021.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Reform Brings Changes to Qualified Moving Expenses." Accessed Feb. 1, 2021.