The disposition of a U.S. real property interest by a foreign person (the transferor) is subject to income tax withholding. If you are the transferee, you must find out if the transferor is a foreign person. If the transferor is a foreign person and you fail to withhold, you may be held liable for the tax. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225091
A foreign person is a nonresident alien individual, foreign corporation that has not made an election under section 897(i) of the Internal Revenue Code to be treated as a domestic corporation, foreign partnership, foreign trust, or foreign estate. It does not include a resident alien individual. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225092
A transferor is any foreign person that disposes of a U.S. real property interest by sale, exchange, gift, or any other transfer. A transfer includes distributions to shareholders of a corporation and beneficiaries of a trust or estate.
The owner of a disregarded entity is treated as the transferor of the property, not the entity.taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225093
A transferee is any person, foreign or domestic, that acquires a U.S. real property interest by purchase, exchange, gift, or any other transfer. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225094
A U.S. real property interest is an interest, other than as a creditor, in real property (including an interest in a mine, well, or other natural deposit) located in the United States or the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as certain personal property that is associated with the use of real property (such as farming machinery). It also means any interest, other than as a creditor, in any domestic corporation unless it is established that the corporation was at no time a U.S. real property holding corporation during the shorter of the period during which the interest was held, or the 5-year period ending on the date of disposition. If on the date of disposition, the corporation did not hold any U.S. real property interests, and all the interests held at any time during the shorter of the applicable periods were disposed of in transactions in which the full amount of any gain was recognized, then an interest in the corporation is not a U.S. real property interest. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225095
The transferee must deduct and withhold a tax equal to 10% (or other amount) of the total amount realized by the foreign person on the disposition (for example, 10% of the purchase price).
The amount realized is the sum of:
- The cash paid, or to be paid (principal only),
- The fair market value of other property transferred, or to be transferred, and
- The amount of any liability assumed by the transferee or to which the property is subject immediately before and after the transfer.
If the property transferred was owned jointly by U.S. and foreign persons, the amount realized is allocated between the transferors based on the capital contribution of each transferor.
A foreign corporation that distributes a U.S. real property interest must withhold a tax equal to 35% of the gain it recognizes on the distribution to its shareholders. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225097
A domestic corporation must withhold a tax equal to 10% of the fair market value of the property distributed to a foreign shareholder if:
- The shareholder's interest in the corporation is a U.S. real property interest, and
- The property distributed is either in redemption of stock or in liquidation of the corporation.
A distribution from a domestic corporation that is a U.S. real property holding corporation (USRPHC) is generally subject to NRA withholding and withholding under the U.S. real property interest provisions. This also applies to a corporation that was a USRPHC at any time during the shorter of the period during which the U.S. real property interest was held, or the 5-year period ending on the date of disposition. A USRPHC can satisfy both withholding provisions if it withholds under one of the following procedures.
- Apply NRA withholding on the full amount of the distribution, whether or not any portion of the distribution represents a return of basis or capital gain. If a reduced tax rate applies under an income tax treaty, then the rate of withholding must not be less than 10%, unless the treaty specifies a lower rate for distributions from a USRPHC.
- Apply NRA withholding to the portion of the distribution that the USRPHC estimates is a dividend. Then, withhold 10% on the remainder of the distribution (or on a smaller amount if a withholding certificate is obtained and the amount of the distribution that is a return of capital is established).
The same procedure must be used for all distributions made during the year. A different procedure may be used each year.
If a partnership disposes of a U.S. real property interest at a gain, the gain is treated as effectively connected income and is subject to the rules explained earlier under Partnership Withholding on Effectively Connected Income.taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225100
You are a withholding agent if you are a trustee, fiduciary, or executor of a trust or estate having one or more foreign beneficiaries. You must establish a U.S. real property interest account. You enter in the account all gains and losses realized during the taxable year of the trust or estate from dispositions of U.S. real property interests. You must withhold 35% on any distribution to a foreign beneficiary that is attributable to the balance in the real property interest account on the day of the distribution. A distribution from a trust or estate to a beneficiary (foreign or domestic) will be treated as attributable first to any balance in the U.S. real property interest account and then to other amounts.
A trust with more than 100 beneficiaries may elect to withhold from each distribution 35% of the amount attributable to the foreign beneficiary's proportionate share of the current balance of the trust's real property interest account. This election does not apply to publicly traded trusts or real estate investment trusts (REITs). For more information about this election, see section 1.1445-5(c) of the regulations. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225101
Special rules apply to qualified investment entities (QIEs). A QIE is:
- Any real estate investment trust (REIT), or
- Any regulated investment company (RIC) that is a U.S. real property holding corporation if the distribution by the RIC is attributable to a distribution received by the RIC from a REIT.
In determining if a RIC is a U.S. real property holding corporation, the RIC is required to include as U.S. real property interests its holdings of stock in a RIC or REIT that is a U.S. real property holding corporation, even if that stock is regularly traded and the RIC owns less than 5% of the stock.
Generally, any distribution from a QIE attributable to gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest is treated as such gain by the nonresident alien, foreign corporation, or other QIE receiving the distribution. A distribution by a QIE on stock regularly traded on an established securities market in the United States is not treated as gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest if the nonresident alien or foreign corporation did not own more than 5% of that stock at any time during the 1-year period ending on the date of the distribution. A distribution that is not treated as gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest is included in the shareholder's gross income as a dividend.
A distribution by a QIE to a nonresident alien or foreign corporation that is treated as gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest by the shareholder is subject to withholding at 35%. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225103
The sale of an interest in a domestically controlled QIE is not the sale of a U.S. real property interest. The entity is domestically controlled if at all times during the testing period less than 50% in value of its stock was held, directly or indirectly, by foreign persons. The testing period is the shorter of (a) the 5-year period ending on the date of disposition, or (b) the period during which the entity was in existence.
If a foreign shareholder in a domestically controlled QIE disposes of an interest in the QIE in an applicable wash sale transaction, special rules apply. In this transaction, the nonresident alien, foreign corporation, or other QIE:
- Disposes of an interest in the domestically controlled QIE during the 30-day period before the ex-dividend date of a distribution that would have been treated by the shareholder as gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest, and
- Acquires, or enters into a contract or option to acquire, a substantially identical interest in that entity during the 61-day period that began on the first day of the 30-day period.
If this occurs, the shareholder is treated as having gain from the sale or exchange of a U.S. real property interest in an amount equal to the distribution that would have been treated as such gain. This also applies to any substitute dividend payment. No withholding is required on these transactions.
A transaction is not treated as an applicable wash sale transaction if:
- The shareholder actually receives the distribution from the domestically controlled QIE on either the interest disposed of, or acquired, in the transaction, or
- The shareholder disposes of any class of stock in a QIE that is regularly traded on an established securities market in the United States but only if the shareholder did not own more than 5% of that stock at any time during the 1-year period ending on the date of the distribution.
For additional information on the withholding rules that apply to corporations, trusts, estates, and qualified investment entities, see section 1445 of the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations. For additional information on the withholding rules that apply to partnerships, see the previous discussion.
You also may write to the:
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Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 920
Bensalem, PA 19020
You do not have to withhold if any of the following apply.
- You (the transferee) acquire the property for use as a residence and the amount realized (sales price) is not more than $300,000. You or a member of your family must have definite plans to reside at the property for at least 50% of the number of days the property is used by any person during each of the first two 12-month periods following the date of transfer. When counting the number of days the property is used, do not count the days the property will be vacant. For this exception, the transferee must be an individual.
- The property disposed of is an interest in a domestic corporation if any class of stock of the corporation is regularly traded on an established securities market. However, this exception does not apply to certain dispositions of substantial amounts of non-publicly traded interests in publicly traded corporations.
- The disposition is of an interest in a domestic corporation and that corporation furnishes you a certification stating, under penalties of perjury, that the interest is not a U.S. real property interest. Generally, the corporation can make this certification only if either of the following is true.
- During the previous 5 years (or, if shorter, the period the interest was held by its present owner), the corporation was not a USRPHC.
- As of the date of disposition, the interest in the corporation is not a U.S. real property interest by reason of section 897(c)(1)(B) of the Code. The certification must be dated not more than 30 days before the date of transfer.
- The transferor gives you a certification stating, under penalties of perjury, that the transferor is not a foreign person and containing the transferor's name, U.S. taxpayer identification number, and home address (or office address, in the case of an entity). The transferor can give the certification to a qualified substitute. The qualified substitute gives you a statement, under penalties of perjury, that the certification is in possession of the qualified substitute. For this purpose, a qualified substitute is (a) the person (including any attorney or title company) responsible for closing the transaction, other than the transferor's agent, and (b) the transferee's agent.
- You receive a withholding certificate from the Internal Revenue Service that excuses withholding. See Withholding Certificates, later.
- The transferor gives you written notice that no recognition of any gain or loss on the transfer is required because of a nonrecognition provision in the Internal Revenue Code or a provision in a U.S. tax treaty. You must file a copy of the notice by the 20th day after the date of transfer with the Ogden Service Center, P.O. Box 409101, Ogden, UT 84409.
- The amount the transferor realizes on the transfer of a U.S. real property interest is zero.
- The property is acquired by the United States, a U.S. state or possession, a political subdivision, or the District of Columbia.
- The grantor realizes an amount on the grant or lapse of an option to acquire a U.S. real property interest. However, you must withhold on the sale, exchange, or exercise of that option.
- The disposition is of an interest in a publicly traded partnership or trust. However, this exception does not apply to certain dispositions of substantial amounts of non-publicly traded interests in publicly traded partnerships or trusts.
If you become aware that you have failed to timely file certain certifications or notices, you still may be able to apply.
Complete the required certification or notice and file it with the appropriate person or the IRS. Also include the following.
- A statement at the top of the document(s) that it is "FILED PURSUANT TO REV. PROC. 2008-27".
- An explanation describing why the failure was due to reasonable cause. Within the explanation, provide that you filed with, or obtained from, an appropriate person the required certification or notice.
The completed certification or notice attached to the explanation must be sent to the Ogden Service Center, P.O. Box 409101, Ogden, UT 84409. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225108
The certifications in items (3) and (4) are not effective if you (or the qualified substitute) have actual knowledge, or receive a notice from an agent (or substitute), that they are false. This also applies to the qualified substitute's statement under item (4).
If you (or the substitute) are required by regulations to furnish a copy of the certification (or statement) to the IRS and you (or the substitute) fail to do so in the time and manner prescribed, the certification (or statement) is not effective. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225109
If you (or the substitute) receive a certification discussed in item (3) or (4) or a statement in item (4), and the agent, or substitute, has actual knowledge that the certification (or statement) is false, or in the case of (3), that the corporation is a foreign corporation, the agent (or substitute) must notify you, or the agent (or substitute) will be held liable for the tax. The agent's (or substitute's) liability is limited to the compensation the agent (or substitute) gets from the transaction.
An agent is any person who represents the transferor or transferee in any negotiation with another person (or another person's agent) relating to the transaction, or in settling the transaction. A person is not treated as an agent if the person only performs one or more of the following acts related to the transaction:
- Receipt and disbursement of any part of the consideration,
- Recording of any document,
- Typing, copying, and other clerical tasks,
- Obtaining title insurance reports and reports concerning the condition of the property, or
- Transmitting documents between the parties.
Transferees must use Forms 8288 and 8288-A to report and pay over any tax withheld on the acquisition of U.S. real property interests. These forms must also be used by corporations, estates, and QIEs that must withhold tax on distributions and other transactions involving U.S. real property interests. You must include the U.S. TIN of both the transferor and the transferee on the forms.
For partnerships disposing of U.S. real property interests, the manner of reporting and paying over the tax withheld is the same as discussed earlier under Partnership Withholding on Effectively Connected Income.
Publicly traded trusts must use Forms 1042 and 1042-S to report and pay over tax withheld on distributions from dispositions of U.S. real property interests.
QIEs must use Forms 1042 and 1042-S for a distribution to a nonresident alien or foreign corporation that is treated as a dividend as discussed earlier under Qualified investment entities. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225111
The tax withheld on the acquisition of a U.S. real property interest from a foreign person is reported and paid over using Form 8288. Form 8288 also serves as the transmittal form for copies A and B of Form 8288-A.
Generally, you must file Form 8288 by the 20th day after the date of the transfer.
If an application for a withholding certificate (discussed later) is submitted to the IRS before or on the date of a transfer and the application is still pending with the IRS on the date of transfer, the correct withholding tax must be withheld, but does not have to be reported and paid over immediately. The amount withheld (or lesser amount as determined by the IRS) must be reported and paid over within 20 days following the day on which a copy of the withholding certificate or notice of denial is mailed by the IRS.
If the principal purpose of applying for a withholding certificate is to delay paying over the withheld tax, the transferee will be subject to interest and penalties. The interest and penalties will be assessed for the period beginning on the 21st day after the date of transfer and ending on the day the payment is made. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225113
The withholding agent must prepare a Form 8288-A for each person from whom tax has been withheld. Attach copies A and B of Form 8288-A to Form 8288. Keep Copy C for your records.
IRS will stamp Copy B and send it to the person subject to withholding. That person must file a U.S. income tax return and attach the stamped Form 8288-A to receive credit for any tax withheld.
A stamped copy of Form 8288-A will not be provided to the transferor if the transferor's TIN is not included on that form. In this case, to get credit for the withheld amount, the transferor must attach to its U.S. income tax return substantial evidence of withholding (for example, closing documents) and a statement that contains all the required information shown on Forms 8288 and 8288-A including the transferor's TIN.
Generally, the real estate broker or other person responsible for closing the transaction must report the sale of the property to the IRS using Form 1099-S. For more information about Form 1099-S, see the Instructions for Form 1099-S and the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns (Forms 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G). taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225116
The amount that must be withheld from the disposition of a U.S. real property interest can be adjusted by a withholding certificate issued by the IRS. The transferee, the transferee's agent, or the transferor may request a withholding certificate. The IRS will generally act on these requests within 90 days after receipt of a complete application including the TINs of all the parties to the transaction. A transferor that applies for a withholding certificate must notify the transferee in writing that the certificate has been applied for on the day of or the day prior to the transfer.
A withholding certificate may be issued due to:
- A determination by the IRS that reduced withholding is appropriate because either:
- The amount that must be withheld would be more than the transferor's maximum tax liability, or
- Withholding of the reduced amount would not jeopardize collection of the tax,
- The exemption from U.S. tax of all gain realized by the transferor, or
- An agreement for the payment of tax providing security for the tax liability, entered into by the transferee or transferor.
Applications for withholding certificates are divided into six basic categories. This categorizing provides for specific information that is needed to process the applications. The six categories are:
- Applications based on a claim that the transferor is entitled to nonrecognition treatment or is exempt from tax,
- Applications based solely on a calculation of the transferor's maximum tax liability,
- Applications under special installment sale rules,
- Applications based on an agreement for the payment of tax with conforming security,
- Applications for blanket withholding certificates, and
- Applications on any other basis.
The applicant must make available to the IRS, within the time prescribed, all information required to verify that representations relied upon in accepting the agreement are accurate, and that the obligations assumed by the applicant will be performed pursuant to the agreement. Failure to provide requested information promptly usually will result in rejection of the application, unless the IRS grants an extension of the target date.
Use Form 8288-B, Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests, to apply for a withholding certificate. Follow the instructions for the form.taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225119
Do not use Form 8288-B for applications under categories (4), (5), and (6). For these categories follow the instructions given here and under the specific category.
All applications for withholding certificates must use the following format. The information must be provided in paragraphs labeled to correspond with the numbers and letters set forth below. If the information requested does not apply, place "N/A" in the relevant space.
- Information on the application category:
- State which category (4, 5, or 6) describes the application,
- If a category (4) application:
- State whether the proposed agreement secures (A) the transferor's maximum tax liability, or (B) the amount that would otherwise have to be withheld, and
- State whether the proposed agreement and security instrument conform to the standard formats.
- Information on the transferee or transferor:
- State the name, address, and TIN of the person applying for the withholding certificate (if this person does not have a TIN and is eligible for an ITIN, he or she can apply for the ITIN by attaching the application to a completed Form W-7 and forwarding the package to the address given in the Form W-7 instructions),
- State whether that person is the transferee or transferor, and
- State the name, address, and TIN of all other transferees and transferors of the U.S. real property interest for which the withholding certificate is sought.
- Information on the U.S. real property interest for which the withholding certificate is sought, state the:
- Type of interest (such as interest in real property, in associated personal property, or in a domestic U.S. real property holding corporation),
- Contract price,
- Date of transfer,
- Location and general description (if an interest in real property),
- Class or type and amount of the interest in a U.S. real property holding corporation, and
- Whether in the 3 preceding tax years: (1) U.S. income tax returns were filed relating to the U.S. real property interest, and if so, when and where those returns were filed, and if not, why returns were not filed, and (2) U.S. income taxes were paid relating to the U.S. real property interest, and if so, the amount of tax paid.
- Provide full information concerning the basis for the issuance of the withholding certificate. Although the information to be included in this section of the application will vary from case to case, the rules shown under the specific category provide general guidelines for the inclusion of appropriate information for that category.
The application must be signed by the individual, or a duly authorized agent (with a copy of the power of attorney, such as Form 2848, attached), a responsible officer in the case of a corporation, a general partner in the case of a partnership, or a trustee, executor, or equivalent fiduciary in the case of a trust or estate. The person signing the application must verify under penalties of perjury that all representations are true, correct, and complete to that person's knowledge and belief. If the application is based in whole or in part on information provided by another party to the transaction, that information must be supported by a written verification signed under penalties of perjury by that party and attached to the application.
Send applications to the:
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Ogden Service Center
P.O. Box 409101
Ogden, UT 84409
If the application is based on an agreement for the payment of tax, the application must include:
- Information establishing the transferor's maximum tax liability, or the amount that otherwise has to be withheld,
- A signed copy of the agreement proposed by the applicant, and
- A copy of the security instrument proposed by the applicant.
Either the transferee or the transferor may enter into an agreement for the payment of tax. The agreement is a contract between the IRS and any other person and consists of two necessary elements. Those elements are:
- A detailed description of the rights and obligations of each, and
- A security instrument or other form of security acceptable to the Commissioner or his delegate.
For more information on the agreement for the payment of tax, including a sample agreement, see section 5 of Rev. Proc. 2000-35. Rev. Proc. 2000-35 is in Cumulative Bulletin 2000-2, or it can be found on page 211 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 2000-35 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb00-35.pdf
There are four major types of security acceptable to the IRS. They are:
- Bond with surety or guarantor,
- Bond with collateral,
- Letter of credit, and
- Guarantee (corporate transferors).
The IRS may, in unusual circumstances and at its discretion, accept any additional form of security that it finds to be adequate.
For more information on acceptable security instruments, including sample forms of these instruments, see section 6 of Rev. Proc. 2000-35. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225122
A blanket withholding certificate may be issued if the transferor holding the U.S. real property interests provides an irrevocable letter of credit or a guarantee and enters into a tax payment and security agreement with the IRS. A blanket withholding certificate excuses withholding concerning multiple dispositions of those property interests by the transferor or the transferor's legal representative during a period of no more than 12 months.
For more information, see section 9 of Rev. Proc. 2000-35.taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225123
These are nonstandard applications and may be of the following types. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225124
An applicant seeking to enter into an agreement for the payment of tax but wanting to provide a nonconforming type of security must include the following in the application:
- The information required for Category (4) applications, discussed earlier,
- A description of the nonconforming security proposed by the applicant, and
- A memorandum of law and facts establishing that the proposed security is valid and enforceable and that it adequately protects the government's interest.
An application for a withholding certificate not previously described must explain in detail the proposed basis for the issuance of the certificate and set forth the reasons justifying the issuance of a certificate on that basis. taxmap/pubs/p515-010.htm#en_us_publink1000225126
An applicant for a withholding certificate may amend an otherwise complete application by sending an amending statement to the address shown earlier. There is no particular form required, but the amending statement must provide the following information:
- The name, address, and TIN of the person providing the amending statement specifying whether that person is the transferee or transferor,
- The date of the original application for a withholding certificate that is being amended,
- A brief description of the real property interest for which the original application for a withholding certificate was provided, and
- The basis for the amendment including any change in the facts supporting the original application for a withholding certificate and any change in the terms of the withholding certificate.
The statement must be signed and accompanied by a penalties of perjury statement.
If an amending statement is provided, the time in which the IRS must act upon the application is extended by 30 days. If the amending statement substantially changes the original application, the time for acting upon the application is extended by 60 days. If an amending statement is received after the withholding certificate has been signed, but has not been mailed to the applicant, the IRS will have a 90-day extension of time in which to act.