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Identifying the Payee

Generally, 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.

U.S. Agent of Foreign Person

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 (e.g., 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.

Disregarded Entities

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.

References/Related Topics

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 23-Mar-2014