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Presumption Rules

If you cannot reliably associate a payment with valid documentation, you must apply certain presumption rules or you may be liable for tax, interest, and penalties. If you comply with the presumption rules, you are not liable for tax, interest, and penalties even if the rate of withholding that should have been applied based on the payee's actual status is different from that presumed.

The presumption rules apply to determine the status of the person you pay as a U.S. or foreign person and other relevant characteristics, such as whether the payee is a beneficial owner or intermediary, and whether the payee is an individual, corporation, partnership, or trust. You are not permitted to apply a reduced rate of NRA withholding based on a payee's presumed status if documentation is required to establish a reduced rate of withholding. For example, if the payee of interest is presumed to be a foreign person, you may not apply the portfolio interest exception or a reduced rate of withholding under a tax treaty since both exceptions require documentation.

If you rely on your actual knowledge about a payee's status and withhold an amount less than that required under the presumption rules or do not report a payment that is subject to reporting under the presumption rules, you may be liable for tax, interest, and penalties. You should, however, rely on your actual knowledge if doing so results in withholding an amount greater than would apply under the presumption rules or in reporting an amount that would not have been subject to reporting under the presumption rules.

The presumption rules, in the absence of documentation, for the subject matter are discussed in the regulation section indicated below.

Presumption Rules in the Absence of Documentation
For the presumption rules related to: See regulation section:
Payee's status - general 1.1441-1(b)(3);
Effectively connected income 1.1441-4(a)(2)
Partnership and its partners 1.1441-5(d);
Estate or trust and its beneficiaries or owner 1.1441-5(e)(6)
Foreign tax-exempt organizations (including private foundations) 1.1441-9(b)(3)

References/Related Topics

Note: This page contains one or more references to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Treasury Regulations, court cases, or other official tax guidance. References to these legal authorities are included for the convenience of those who would like to read the technical reference material. To access the applicable IRC sections, Treasury Regulations, or other official tax guidance, visit the Tax Code, Regulations, and Official Guidance page. To access any Tax Court case opinions issued after September 24, 1995, visit the Opinions Search page of the United States Tax Court.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 05-Mar-2015