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Live with Chris Blair, Global Mobility Manager at Aviva

 

 

 

 Show Notes 

This week on The View From The Top, Brian sat down with Chris Blair, GM Manager with the Insurance magnate Aviva, for a provocative and inspiring conversation.

Chris balances his role with Aviva with his modern blended family, being a father of 5 children all under the age of twelve and a recent addition of a Cockapoo puppy, Oreo. After college and before he stepped foot into a Mobility role, Chris once had a rock band in Liverpool where he grew up.  Though he was not as successful as some of those other bands you may have heard about from Liverpool, he realized how much dedication is required for touring and visiting grotty venues for little money and realized it was not the life for him. Though Chris didn’t pursue his love of music professionally, he is actually still in a band that does play locally and as Brian suggests, a Global Mobility band should commence and play Mobility events to which Chris is on board with this idea and perhaps one day we will all get to see him on stage after all.

After his musician days, he found himself in the Salvation Army doing youth work in communities which lead him to Norwich where he now resides. Chris wanted to contribute by being a positive influence in other’s lives and working as a Youth Officer in the Salvation Army was the way to contribute. He feels his years with the Salvation Army were crucial to making him the person he is now in terms of viewing the importance of people and how you treat them.

Over the Pandemic Chris's position has changed to look at the Mobility function and how it operates and bring about change. He dived in to look at being more efficient and how they can bring about more value. One thing he discussed was the use of technology. As Chris states, technology is an enabler and should never replace the human experience. Chris feels we should take a look at why we exist in our roles and take out the pieces of our roles and mobility that doesn’t add value.

Chris discussed the thought-provoking questions of, why do I have a job, and what do I do that adds value? As Chris points out, we exist because of our customers and we need to look at how do we add value that benefits those customers. Anything that does not improve the experience to the customer, isn’t a value add and we need to challenge ourselves to investigate why we are doing the things we do.

Chris believes we cannot solve all the problems in Mobility if we don’t view it as an end-to-end issue and ask ourselves some tough questions. Chris feels everyone in Mobility should challenge the way of thinking with things like the ever-present topics in Mobility of “return on investment” and saying, “seat at the table”, and have the conversations on why we view often discuss these topics with the same outcomes.

Watch the full video to hear more of Chris’s genuine and passionate views on these thought-provoking topics.  

Immigration Update

By Julia Onslow-Cole at Fragomen

  1. Across the Middle East we are seeing quite restrictive nationalization policies to encourage companies to hire local residents. This reflects the demographics of the region where there are a high number of young people looking for jobs. The post pandemic economic situation in the region has also impacted the jobs market.
  2. There is a groundbreaking new pathway to Emirati citizenship for certain highly skilled foreign nationals.
  3. In Saudi there is a new temporary work permit for people who wish to work for a short period. This is a great development for companies doing business in Saudi.
  4. In Qatar restrictions on family visa applications remain in place and with COVID cases rising it could be longer before we begin to see family visas being open again more broadly. 

Tax Update 

By Pat Jurgens at AIRINC

Tax Deadlines and the state of tax season in the U.S.

Last show we talked about getting ready for tax season.  So, how is tax season in the U.S. so far?  Not too encouraging and this may be a tax season like no other. 

  • U.S. tax season started two weeks late due to second stimulus checks that were issued before January 15th.  This and other last minute tax changes required IRS programming changes.
  • The tax authority – Internal Revenue Service or IRS – has a huge backlog from last year due to COVID-19.  How big is the backlog?  About 6 million 2019 tax returns have been received but are ‘unprocessed’.  Additionally, there is a large backlog of mail and correspondence from taxpayers that is unopened.  The IRS backlog is due to tax service center closures and staffing issues from the pandemic.  (Reminder – the IRS does not have a remote worker program). 
  • It is very unusual for a tax authority have not processed returns from the last year while the current tax season is just getting started. 
  • Earlier this month, the IRS issued notices to approximately 260,000 taxpayers stating they haven’t filed their 2019 federal tax return. These notices are issued yearly to identified taxpayers who have failed to file a tax return that was due the prior calendar year (Tax Year 2019).
  • Due to pandemic related shutdowns, the IRS has not completed processing all 2019 returns at this time. Therefore, the CP59 notices should not have been sent because some portion of the recipients may have filed a return that is still being processed.
  • The IRS has provided guidance to people who filed their 2019 return but nevertheless received the delinquent notice, instructing them to disregard the letter as there is no need to take any action.
  • On Feb 18th , the House Ways and Means Committee sent a request to the IRS to delay the deadline for filing and paying income tax returns.  Normally individual tax returns are due April 15th.  You may recall that a similar deferral was granted last year – 3 months to July 15th
  • As of now, processed 2020 returns are only a third of what was processed this time last year, but IRS call volume and IRS website visits are double from last year, reflecting confusion on how to file taxes for 2020  due to COVID-19, remote worker, disasters.
  • On Feb 23rd, the IRS Commissioner, Chuck Rettig, testified to Congress that “We have no present plans to extend the filing season.”  But he acknowledged there are calls to do so.
  • Also on Feb 23rd, the IRS announced deadline extensions for those affected by the winter storms in Texas – the tax relief is typical for areas affected by federally-declared disasters. This applies to residents in Texas and adjacent counties in other states who will have until June 15th to file.  Deferral also applies to when tax payments are due, and interest and penalties will be waived until June 15th.
  • U.S. taxpayers residing outside the U.S. also have until June 15th to file, but interest and penalties accrue from April 15th

Denmark proposes tax relief for COVID-19 expenses and consumption

On 10 February 2021, Denmark proposed a bill introducing tax exemptions for COVID-19 related expenses. The main proposals are summarized below:

  • A wage tax exemption is applicable when an employer gives their employees a gift card.  What can the card be used for? This is targeting industries hardest hit economically from the pandemic.  Employees can use the gift card for the purchase of hotel services, restaurant services, and entertainment services (including museums, theatres and cinemas) in Denmark or another EU/EEA country. The value of the card(s) must not exceed DKK 1,200.
  • A second wage tax exemption is applicable for employer-paid COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment, aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 infections.
  • These measures are expected to enter into force as of 1 January 2021.