I was the third person at my then employer to take an expat assignment in London. My move was smoother than my predecessors; one of whom worked in the Netherlands for several months after being refused entry into the UK. Based on her experience, I made sure that all of my paperwork was in order. I had not considered my pay too much.
I remember opening my first payslip in London and seeing the deduction for hypo tax. I knew about taxation treaties ensuring that I would not be double-taxed. When I saw a tax called hypo tax, my first thought was that I was being triple-taxed. After sending a frantic email to the HR Department, I was given an appointment with a tax adviser at one of the Big Four accounting firms in London.
At this meeting I learned the function of the hypo tax deduction. I was so anxious about my pay that I told my tax adviser that it was not fair that my employer was not tax-equalizing on my spouse’s earnings in London as well; even though he had found separate employment with another company. I now know this request was absurd, and can hardly believe that I had the audacity to make it.
When I hear about “high-maintenance” expat employees, I know that I was one myself. What I learned from this is how important communications are to expats. Be patient with expats, coordinate between HR, payroll and tax advisers, and be ready to communicate the same information several times before the message sinks in.