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Publication 515
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224779

Persons Subject to NRA Withholding(p4)

rule
NRA withholding applies only to payments made to a payee that is a foreign person. It does not apply to payments made to U.S. persons.
Usually, you determine the payee's status as a U.S. or foreign person based on the documentation that person provides. See Documentation, later. However, if you have received no documentation or you cannot reliably associate all or a part of a payment with documentation, then you must apply certain presumption rules, discussed later.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224780

Identifying the Payee(p4)

rule
In most cases, the payee is the person to whom you make the payment, regardless of whether that person is the beneficial owner of the income. However, there are situations in which the payee is a person other than the one to whom you actually make a payment.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224781

U.S. agent of foreign person.(p4)

rule
If you make a payment to a U.S. person and you have actual knowledge that the U.S. person is receiving the payment as an agent of a foreign person, you must treat the payment as made to the foreign person. However, if the U.S. person is a financial institution, you may treat the institution as the payee provided you have no reason to believe that the institution will not comply with its own obligation to withhold.
If the payment is not subject to NRA withholding (for example, gross proceeds from the sales of securities), you must treat the payment as made to a U.S. person and not as a payment to a foreign person. You may be required to report the payment on Form 1099 and, if applicable, backup withhold.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224782

Disregarded entities.(p4)

rule
A business entity that is not a corporation and that has a single owner may be disregarded as an entity separate from its owner (a disregarded entity) for federal tax purposes. The payee of a payment made to a disregarded entity is the owner of the entity.
If the owner of the entity is a foreign person, you must apply NRA withholding unless you can treat the foreign owner as a beneficial owner entitled to a reduced rate of withholding.
If the owner is a U.S. person, you do not apply NRA withholding. However, you may be required to report the payment on Form 1099 and, if applicable, backup withhold. You may assume that a foreign entity is not a disregarded entity unless you can reliably associate the payment with documentation provided by the owner or you have actual knowledge or reason to know that the foreign entity is a disregarded entity.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224783

Flow-Through Entities(p4)

rule
The payees of payments (other than income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business) made to a foreign flow-through entity are the owners or beneficiaries of the flow-through entity. This rule applies for purposes of NRA withholding and for Form 1099 reporting and backup withholding. Income that is, or is deemed to be, effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business of a flow-through entity is treated as paid to the entity.
All of the following are flow-through entities.
In most cases, you treat a payee as a flow-through entity if it provides you with a Form W-8IMY (see Documentation, later) on which it claims such status. You also may be required to treat the entity as a flow-through entity under the presumption rules, discussed later.
You must determine whether the owners or beneficiaries of a flow-through entity are U.S. or foreign persons, how much of the payment relates to each owner or beneficiary, and, if the owner or beneficiary is foreign, whether a reduced rate of NRA withholding applies. You make these determinations based on the documentation and other information (contained in a withholding statement) that is associated with the flow-through entity's Form W-8IMY. If you do not have all of the information that is required to reliably associate a payment with a specific payee, you must apply the presumption rules. See Documentation and Presumption Rules, later.
Withholding foreign partnerships and withholding foreign trusts are not flow-through entities.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224784

Foreign partnerships.(p4)

rule
A foreign partnership is any partnership that is not organized under the laws of any state of the United States or the District of Columbia or any partnership that is treated as foreign under the income tax regulations. If a foreign partnership is not a withholding foreign partnership, the payees of income are the partners of the partnership, provided the partners are not themselves a flow-through entity or a foreign intermediary. However, the payee is the partnership itself if the partnership is claiming treaty benefits on the basis that it is not fiscally transparent and that it meets all the other requirements for claiming treaty benefits. If a partner is a foreign flow-through entity or a foreign intermediary, you apply the payee determination rules to that partner to determine the payees.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224785

Example 1.(p4)

A nonwithholding foreign partnership has three partners: a nonresident alien individual; a foreign corporation; and a U.S. citizen. You make a payment of U.S. source interest to the partnership. It gives you a Form W-8IMY with which it associates Forms W-8BEN from the nonresident alien and the foreign corporation and a Form W-9 from the U.S. citizen. The partnership also gives you a complete withholding statement that enables you to associate a part of the interest payment to each partner.
You must treat all three partners as the payees of the interest payment as if the payment were made directly to them. Report the payment to the nonresident alien and the foreign corporation on Forms 1042-S. Report the payment to the U.S. citizen on Form 1099-INT.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224786

Example 2.(p4)

A nonwithholding foreign partnership has two partners: a foreign corporation and a nonwithholding foreign partnership. The second partnership has two partners, both nonresident alien individuals. You make a payment of U.S. source interest to the first partnership. It gives you a valid Form W-8IMY with which it associates a Form W-8BEN from the foreign corporation and a Form W-8IMY from the second partnership. In addition, Forms W-8BEN from the partners are associated with the Form W-8IMY from the second partnership. The Forms W-8IMY from the partnerships have complete withholding statements associated with them. Because you can reliably associate a part of the interest payment with the Forms W-8BEN provided by the foreign corporation and the nonresident alien individual partners as a result of the withholding statements, you must treat them as the payees of the interest.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224787

Example 3.(p4)

You make a payment of U.S. source dividends to a withholding foreign partnership. The partnership has two partners, both foreign corporations. You can reliably associate the payment with a valid Form W-8IMY from the partnership on which it represents that it is a withholding foreign partnership. You must treat the partnership as the payee of the dividends.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224788

Foreign simple and grantor trust.(p4)

rule
A trust is foreign unless it meets both of the following tests.
In most cases, a foreign simple trust is a foreign trust that is required to distribute all of its income annually. A foreign grantor trust is a foreign trust that is treated as a grantor trust under sections 671 through 679 of the Code.
The payees of a payment made to a foreign simple trust are the beneficiaries of the trust. The payees of a payment made to a foreign grantor trust are the owners of the trust. However, the payee is the foreign simple or grantor trust itself if the trust is claiming treaty benefits on the basis that it is not fiscally transparent and that it meets all the other requirements for claiming treaty benefits. If the beneficiaries or owners are themselves flow-through entities or foreign intermediaries, you apply the payee determination rules to that beneficiary or owner to determine the payees.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224789

Example.(p5)

A foreign simple trust has three beneficiaries: a nonresident alien individual, a foreign corporation, and a U.S. citizen. You make a payment of interest to the foreign trust. It gives you a Form W-8IMY with which it associates Forms W-8BEN from the nonresident alien and the foreign corporation and a Form W-9 from the U.S. citizen. The trust also gives you a complete withholding statement that enables you to associate a part of the interest payment with the forms provided by each beneficiary. You must treat all three beneficiaries as the payees of the interest payment as if the payment were made directly to them. Report the payment to the nonresident alien and the foreign corporation on Forms 1042-S. Report the payment to the U.S. citizen on Form 1099-INT.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224790

Fiscally transparent entity.(p5)

rule
If a reduced rate of withholding under an income tax treaty is claimed, a flow-through entity includes any entity in which the interest holder must treat the entity as fiscally transparent. The determination of whether an entity is fiscally transparent is made on an item of income basis (that is, the determination is made separately for interest, dividends, royalties, etc.). The interest holder in an entity makes the determination by applying the laws of the jurisdiction where the interest holder is organized, incorporated, or otherwise considered a resident. An entity is considered to be fiscally transparent for the income to the extent the laws of that jurisdiction require the interest holder to separately take into account on a current basis the interest holder's share of the income, whether or not distributed to the interest holder, and the character and source of the income to the interest holder are determined as if the income was realized directly from the source that paid it to the entity. Subject to the standards of knowledge rules discussed later, you generally make the determination that an entity is fiscally transparent based on a Form W-8IMY provided by the entity.
The payees of a payment made to a fiscally transparent entity are the interest holders of the entity.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224791

Example.(p5)

Entity A is a business organization organized under the laws of country X that has an income tax treaty in force with the United States. A has two interest holders, B and C. B is a corporation organized under the laws of country Y. C is a corporation organized under the laws of country Z. Both countries Y and Z have an income tax treaty in force with the United States.
A receives royalty income from U.S. sources that is not effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States. For U.S. income tax purposes, A is treated as a partnership. Country X treats A as a partnership and requires the interest holders in A to separately take into account on a current basis their respective shares of the income paid to A even if the income is not distributed. The laws of country X provide that the character and source of the income to A's interest holders are determined as if the income was realized directly from the source that paid it to A. Accordingly, A is fiscally transparent in its jurisdiction, country X.
B and C are not fiscally transparent under the laws of their respective countries of incorporation. Country Y requires B to separately take into account on a current basis B's share of the income paid to A, and the character and source of the income to B is determined as if the income was realized directly from the source that paid it to A. Accordingly, A is fiscally transparent for that income under the laws of country Y, and B is treated as deriving its share of the U.S. source royalty income for purposes of the U.S.-Y income tax treaty. Country Z, on the other hand, treats A as a corporation and does not require C to take into account its share of A's income on a current basis whether or not distributed. Therefore, A is not treated as fiscally transparent under the laws of country Z. Accordingly, C is not treated as deriving its share of the U.S. source royalty income for purposes of the U.S.-Z income tax treaty.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224792

Foreign Intermediaries(p5)

rule
In most cases, if you make payments to a foreign intermediary, the payees are the persons for whom the foreign intermediary collects the payment, such as account holders or customers, not the intermediary itself. This rule applies for purposes of NRA withholding and for Form 1099 reporting and backup withholding. You may, however, treat a qualified intermediary that has assumed primary withholding responsibility for a payment as the payee, and you are not required to withhold.
An intermediary is a custodian, broker, nominee, or any other person that acts as an agent for another person. A foreign intermediary is either a qualified intermediary or a nonqualified intermediary. In most cases, you determine whether an entity is a qualified intermediary or a nonqualified intermediary based on the representations the intermediary makes on Form W-8IMY.
You must determine whether the customers or account holders of a foreign intermediary are U.S. or foreign persons and, if the account holder or customer is foreign, whether a reduced rate of NRA withholding applies. You make these determinations based on the foreign intermediary's Form W-8IMY and associated information and documentation. If you do not have all of the information or documentation that is required to reliably associate a payment with a payee, you must apply the presumption rules. See Documentation and Presumption Rules, later.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224793

Nonqualified intermediary.(p5)

rule
A nonqualified intermediary (NQI) is any intermediary that is a foreign person and that is not a qualified intermediary. The payees of a payment made to an NQI are the customers or account holders on whose behalf the NQI is acting.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224794

Example.(p5)

You make a payment of interest to a foreign bank that is a nonqualified intermediary. The bank gives you a Form W-8IMY and the Forms W-8BEN of two foreign persons, and a Form W-9 from a U.S. person for whom the bank is collecting the payments. The bank also associates with its Form W-8IMY a withholding statement on which it allocates the interest payment to each account holder and provides all other information required to be on the withholding statement. The account holders are the payees of the interest payment. You should report the part of the interest paid to the two foreign persons on Forms 1042-S and the part paid to the U.S. person on Form 1099-INT.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224795

Qualified intermediary.(p5)

rule
A qualified intermediary (QI) is any foreign intermediary (or foreign branch of a U.S. intermediary) that has entered into a qualified intermediary withholding agreement (discussed later) with the IRS. You may treat a QI as a payee to the extent the QI assumes primary withholding responsibility or primary Form 1099 reporting and backup withholding responsibility for a payment. In this situation, the QI is required to withhold the tax. You can determine whether a QI has assumed responsibility from the Form W-8IMY provided by the QI.
A payment to a QI to the extent it does not assume primary NRA withholding responsibility is considered made to the person on whose behalf the QI acts. If a QI does not assume Form 1099 reporting and backup withholding responsibility, you must report on Form 1099 and, if applicable, backup withhold as if you were making the payment directly to the U.S. person.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224796
Branches of financial institutions.(p5)
Branches of financial institutions are not permitted to operate as QIs if they are located outside of countries having approved "know-your-customer" (KYC) rules. The countries with approved KYC rules are listed on IRS.gov.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224797
QI withholding agreement.(p5)
Foreign financial institutions and foreign branches of U.S. financial institutions can enter into an agreement with the IRS to be a qualified intermediary.
A QI is entitled to certain simplified withholding and reporting rules. In general, there are three major areas whereby intermediaries with QI status are afforded such simplified treatment.
The QI withholding agreement and procedures necessary to complete the QI application are set forth in Revenue Procedure 2000-12, which is on page 387 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 2000-4 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb00-04.pdf. Also see the following items.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224798
Documentation.(p5)
A QI is not required to forward documentation obtained from foreign account holders to the U.S. withholding agent from whom the QI receives a payment of U.S. source income. The QI maintains such documentation at its location and provides the U.S. withholding agent with withholding rate pools. A withholding rate pool is a payment of a single type of income that is subject to a single rate of withholding.
A QI is required to provide the U.S. withholding agent with information regarding U.S. persons subject to Form 1099 information reporting unless the QI assumes the primary obligation to do Form 1099 reporting and backup withholding.
If a QI obtains documentary evidence under the "know-your-customer" rules that apply to the QI under local law, and the documentary evidence is of a type specified in an attachment to the QI agreement, the documentary evidence remains valid until there is a change in circumstances or the QI knows the information is incorrect. This indefinite validity period rule does not apply to Forms W-8 or to documentary evidence that is not of the type specified in the attachment to the agreement.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224799
Form 1042-S reporting.(p6)
A QI is permitted to report payments made to its direct foreign account holders on a pooled basis rather than reporting payments to each direct account holder specifically. Pooled basis reporting is not available for payments to certain account holders, such as a nonqualified intermediary or a flow-through entity (discussed earlier).
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224800
Collective refund procedures.(p6)
A QI may seek a refund on behalf of its direct account holders. The direct account holders, therefore, are not required to file returns with the IRS to obtain refunds, but rather may obtain them from the QI.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224801

U.S. branches of foreign banks and foreign insurance companies.(p6)

rule
Special rules apply to a U.S. branch of a foreign bank subject to Federal Reserve Board supervision or a foreign insurance company subject to state regulatory supervision. If you agree to treat the branch as a U.S. person, you may treat the branch as a U.S. payee for a payment subject to NRA withholding provided you receive a Form W-8IMY from the U.S. branch on which the agreement is evidenced. If you treat the branch as a U.S. payee, you are not required to withhold. Even though you agree to treat the branch as a U.S. person, you must report the payment on Form 1042-S.
A financial institution organized in a U.S. possession is treated as a U.S. branch. The special rules discussed in this section apply to a possessions financial institution.
If you are paying a U.S. branch an amount that is not subject to NRA withholding, treat the payment as made to a foreign person, irrespective of any agreement to treat the branch as a U.S. person for amounts subject to NRA withholding. Consequently, amounts not subject to NRA withholding that are paid to a U.S. branch are not subject to Form 1099 reporting or backup withholding.
Alternatively, a U.S. branch may provide you with a Form W-8IMY with which it associates the documentation of the persons on whose behalf it acts. In this situation, the payees are the persons on whose behalf the branch acts provided you can reliably associate the payment with valid documentation from those persons. See Nonqualified Intermediaries under Documentation, later.
If the U.S. branch does not provide you with a Form W-8IMY, then you should treat a payment subject to NRA withholding as made to the foreign person of which the branch is a part and the income as effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224802

Withholding foreign partnership and foreign trust.(p6)

rule
A withholding foreign partnership (WP) is any foreign partnership that has entered into a WP withholding agreement with the IRS and is acting in that capacity. A withholding foreign trust (WT) is a foreign simple or grantor trust that has entered into a WT withholding agreement with the IRS and is acting in that capacity.
A WP or WT may act in that capacity only for payments of amounts subject to NRA withholding that are distributed to, or included in the distributive share of, its direct partners, beneficiaries, or owners. A WP or WT acting in that capacity must assume NRA withholding responsibility for these amounts. You may treat a WP or WT as a payee if it has provided you with documentation (discussed later) that represents that it is acting as a WP or WT for such amounts.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224803
WP and WT withholding agreements.(p6)
The WP and WT withholding agreements and the application procedures for the agreements are in Revenue Procedure 2003-64. Also see the following items.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224804
Employer identification number (EIN).(p6)
A completed Form SS-4 must be submitted with the application for being a WP or WT. The WP or WT will be assigned a WP-EIN or WT-EIN to be used only when acting in that capacity.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224805
Documentation.(p6)
A WP or WT must provide you with a Form W-8IMY that certifies that the WP or WT is acting in that capacity and a written statement identifying the amounts for which it is so acting. The statement is not required to contain withholding rate pool information or any information relating to the identity of a direct partner, beneficiary, or owner. The Form W-8IMY must contain the WP-EIN or WT-EIN.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224806

Foreign Persons(p6)

rule
A payee is subject to NRA withholding only if it is a foreign person. A foreign person includes a nonresident alien individual, foreign corporation, foreign partnership, foreign trust, foreign estate, and any other person that is not a U.S. person. It also includes a foreign branch of a U.S. financial institution if the foreign branch is a qualified intermediary. In most cases, the U.S. branch of a foreign corporation or partnership is treated as a foreign person.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224807

Nonresident alien.(p6)

rule
A nonresident alien is an individual who is not a U.S. citizen or a resident alien. A resident of a foreign country under the residence article of an income tax treaty is a nonresident alien individual for purposes of withholding.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224808
Married to U.S. citizen or resident alien.(p6)
Nonresident alien individuals married to U.S. citizens or resident aliens may choose to be treated as resident aliens for certain income tax purposes. However, these individuals are still subject to the NRA withholding rules that apply to nonresident aliens for all income except wages. Wages paid to these individuals are subject to graduated withholding. See Wages Paid to Employees—Graduated Withholding.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224809

Resident alien.(p6)

rule
A resident alien is an individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who meets either the green card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year.
  1. 31 days during the current calendar year, and
  2. 183 days during the current year and the 2 preceding years, counting all the days of physical presence in the current year, but only 1/3 the number of days of presence in the first preceding year, and only 1/6 the number of days in the second preceding year.
In most cases, the days the alien is in the United States as a teacher, student, or trainee on an "F," "J," "M," or "Q" visa are not counted. This exception is for a limited period of time.
For more information on resident and nonresident status, the tests for residence, and the exceptions to them, see Publication 519.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224810
Note.(p6)
If your employee is late in notifying you that his or her status changed from nonresident alien to resident alien, you may have to make an adjustment to Form 941 if that employee was exempt from withholding of social security and Medicare taxes as a nonresident alien. For more information on making adjustments, see chapter 13 of Publication 15 (Circular E).
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224811
Resident of a U.S. possession.(p6)
A bona fide resident of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), or American Samoa who is not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national is treated as a nonresident alien for the withholding rules explained here. A bona fide resident of a possession is someone who:
For more information, see Publication 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224812

Foreign corporations.(p6)

rule
A foreign corporation is one that does not fit the definition of a domestic corporation. A domestic corporation is one that was created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States, any of its states, or the District of Columbia.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224813
Guam or Northern Mariana Islands corporations.(p6)
A corporation created or organized in, or under the laws of, Guam or the CNMI is not considered a foreign corporation for the purpose of withholding tax for the tax year if:
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224814
Note.(p7)
The provisions discussed below under U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa corporations will apply to Guam or CNMI corporations when an implementing agreement is in effect between the United States and that possession.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224815
U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa corporations.(p7)
A corporation created or organized in, or under the laws of, the U.S. Virgin Islands or American Samoa is not considered a foreign corporation for the purposes of withholding tax for the tax year if:
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224816

Foreign private foundations.(p7)

rule
A private foundation that was created or organized under the laws of a foreign country is a foreign private foundation. Gross investment income from sources within the United States paid to a qualified foreign private foundation is subject to NRA withholding at a 4% rate (unless exempted by a treaty) rather than the ordinary statutory 30% rate.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224817

Other foreign organizations, associations, and charitable institutions.(p7)

rule
An organization may be exempt from income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code even if it was formed under foreign law. In most cases, you do not have to withhold tax on payments of income to these foreign tax-exempt organizations unless the IRS has determined that they are foreign private foundations.
Payments to these organizations, however, must be reported on Form 1042-S, even though no tax is withheld.
You must withhold tax on the unrelated business income (as described in Publication 598, Tax on Unrelated Business Income of Exempt Organizations) of foreign tax-exempt organizations in the same way that you would withhold tax on similar income of nonexempt organizations.
taxmap/pubs/p515-001.htm#en_us_publink1000224818

U.S. branches of foreign persons.(p7)

rule
In most cases, a payment to a U.S. branch of a foreign person is a payment made to the foreign person. However, you may treat payments to U.S. branches of foreign banks and foreign insurance companies (discussed earlier) that are subject to U.S. regulatory supervision as payments made to a U.S. person, if you and the U.S. branch have agreed to do so, and if their agreement is evidenced by a withholding certificate, Form W-8IMY. For this purpose, a financial institution organized under the laws of a U.S. possession is treated as a U.S. branch.