General Instructions

For definitions of terms used throughout these instructions, see Definitions, later.

Purpose of Form

Establishing status for chapter 3 purposes.   Foreign persons are subject to U.S. tax at a 30% rate on income they receive from U.S. sources that consists of:

  
  • Interest (including certain original issue discount (OID));

  • Dividends;

  • Rents;

  • Royalties;

  • Premiums;

  • Annuities;

  • Compensation for, or in expectation of, services performed;

  • Substitute payments in a securities lending transaction; or

  • Other fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, profits, or income.

  This tax is imposed on the gross amount paid and is generally collected by withholding under section 1441. A payment is considered to have been made whether it is made directly to the beneficial owner or to another person, such as an intermediary, agent, or partnership, for the benefit of the beneficial owner.

  In addition, section 1446 requires a partnership conducting a trade or business in the United States to withhold tax on a foreign partner's distributive share of the partnership's effectively connected taxable income. Generally, a foreign person that is a partner in a partnership that submits a Form W-8BEN for purposes of section 1441 or 1442 will satisfy the documentation requirements under section 1446 as well. However, in some cases the documentation requirements of sections 1441 and 1442 do not match the documentation requirements of section 1446. See Regulations sections 1.1446-1 through 1.1446-6.

Note.

The owner of a disregarded entity (including an individual), rather than the disregarded entity itself, must submit the appropriate Form W-8BEN for purposes of section 1446.

  If you receive certain types of income, you must provide Form W-8BEN to:
  • Establish that you are not a U.S. person;

  • Claim that you are the beneficial owner of the income for which Form W-8BEN is being provided or a foreign partner in a partnership subject to section 1446; and

  • If applicable, claim a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding as a resident of a foreign country with which the United States has an income tax treaty and who is eligible for treaty benefits.

  You may also be required to submit Form W-8BEN to claim an exception from domestic information reporting and backup withholding (at the backup withholding rate under section 3406) for certain types of income that are not subject to foreign-person withholding at a rate of 30% under section 1441. Such income includes:
  • Broker proceeds;

  • Short-term (183 days or less) original issue discount (OID);

  • Bank deposit interest;

  • Foreign source interest, dividends, rents, or royalties; and

  • Proceeds from a wager placed by a nonresident alien individual in the games of blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, or big-6 wheel.

  A withholding agent or payer of the income may rely on a properly completed Form W-8BEN to treat a payment associated with the Form W-8BEN as a payment to a foreign person who beneficially owns the amounts paid. If applicable, the withholding agent may rely on the Form W-8BEN to apply a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding at source.

  Provide Form W-8BEN to the withholding agent or payer before income is paid or credited to you. Failure to provide a Form W-8BEN when requested may lead to withholding at the foreign-person withholding rate of 30% or the backup withholding rate under section 3406.

Establishing status for chapter 4 purposes.   An FFI may rely on a properly completed Form W-8BEN to establish your chapter 4 status as a foreign person. The Form W-8BEN should be provided to the FFI when requested. Failure to do so could result in 30 percent withholding on income paid or credited to you as a recalcitrant account holder from sources within the United States. See the definition of amounts subject to withholding, later.

Additional information.   For additional information and instructions for the withholding agent, see the Instructions for the Requester of Forms W-8BEN, W-8BEN-E, W-8ECI, W-8EXP, and W-8IMY.

Who Must Provide Form W-8BEN

You must give Form W-8BEN to the withholding agent or payer if you are a nonresident alien who is the beneficial owner of an amount subject to withholding, or if you are an account holder of an FFI documenting yourself as a nonresident alien. If you are the single owner of a disregarded entity, you are considered the beneficial owner of income received by the disregarded entity. Submit Form W-8BEN when requested by the withholding agent, payer, or FFI whether or not you are claiming a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding.

You should also provide Form W-8BEN to a payment settlement entity (PSE) requesting this form if you are a foreign individual receiving payments subject to reporting under section 6050W (payment card transactions and third-party network transactions) as a participating payee. However, if the payments are income which is effectively connected to the conduct of a U.S. trade or business, you should instead provide the PSE with a Form W-8ECI.

Do not use Form W-8BEN if you are described below.

  • You are a foreign entity documenting your foreign status, documenting your chapter 4 status, or claiming treaty benefits. Instead, use Form W-8BEN-E, Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities).

  • You are a U.S. citizen (even if you reside outside the United States) or other U.S. person (including a resident alien individual). Instead, use Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, to document your status as a U.S. person.

  • You are acting as a foreign intermediary (that is, acting not for your own account, but for the account of others as an agent, nominee, or custodian). Instead, provide Form W-8IMY, Certificate of Foreign Intermediary, Foreign Flow-Through Entity, or Certain U.S. Branches for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting.

  • You are a disregarded entity with a single owner that is a U.S. person. Instead, the owner should provide Form W-9. If the disregarded entity is a hybrid entity claiming treaty benefits, the entity should complete Form W-8BEN-E even if the single owner of such entity is a U.S. person that must also provide a Form W-9. See the instructions to Form W-8BEN-E for information on hybrid entities claiming treaty benefits.

  • You are a nonresident alien individual who claims exemption from withholding on compensation for independent or dependent personal services performed in the United States. Instead, provide Form 8233, Exemption from Withholding on Compensation for Independent (and Certain Dependent) Personal Services of a Nonresident Alien Individual, or Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate.

  • You are receiving income that is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States, unless it is allocable to you through a partnership. Instead, provide Form W-8ECI, Certificate of Foreign Person's Claim That Income Is Effectively Connected With the Conduct of a Trade or Business in the United States. If any of the income for which you have provided a Form W-8BEN becomes effectively connected, this is a change in circumstances and Form W-8BEN is no longer valid with respect to such income. You must file Form W-8ECI. See Change in circumstances, later.

Giving Form W-8BEN to the withholding agent.   Do not send Form W-8BEN to the IRS. Instead, give it to the person who is requesting it from you. Generally, this will be the person from whom you receive the payment, who credits your account, or a partnership that allocates income to you. An FFI may also request this form from you to document your account as other than a U.S. account. Give Form W-8BEN to the person requesting it before the payment is made to you, credited to your account, or allocated. If you do not provide this form, the withholding agent may have to withhold at the 30% rate (under chapter 3 and 4), backup withholding rate, or the rate applicable under section 1446. If you receive more than one type of income from a single withholding agent for which you claim different benefits, the withholding agent may, at its option, require you to submit a Form W-8BEN for each different type of income. Generally, a separate Form W-8BEN must be given to each withholding agent.

Note.

If you own the income or account jointly with one or more other persons, the income or account will be treated by the withholding agent as owned by a foreign person that is a beneficial owner of a payment only if Forms W-8BEN or W-8BEN-E are provided by all of the owners. If the withholding agent or financial institution receives a Form W-9 from any of the joint owners, however, the payment must be treated as made to a U.S. person and the account treated as a U.S. account.

Change in circumstances.   If a change in circumstances makes any information on the Form W-8BEN you have submitted incorrect, you must notify the withholding agent, payer, or FFI with which you hold an account within 30 days of the change in circumstances and you must file a new Form W-8BEN or other appropriate form.

  If you use Form W-8BEN to certify that you are a foreign person, a change of address to an address in the United States is a change in circumstances. Generally, a change of address within the same foreign country or to another foreign country is not a change in circumstances. However, if you use Form W-8BEN to claim treaty benefits, a move to the United States or outside the country where you have been claiming treaty benefits is a change in circumstances. In that case, you must notify the withholding agent, payer, or FFI within 30 days of the move.

  If you become a U.S. citizen or resident alien after you submit Form W-8BEN, you are no longer subject to the 30% withholding rate under section 1441 or the withholding tax on a foreign partner's share of effectively connected income under section 1446. To the extent you have an account with an FFI, your account may be subject to reporting by the FFI under chapter 4. You must notify the withholding agent, payer, or FFI within 30 days of becoming a U.S. citizen or resident alien. You may be required to provide a Form W-9. For more information, see Form W-9 and its instructions.

You may be a U.S. resident for tax purposes depending on the number of days you are physically present in the United States over a 3-year period. See Publication 519, available at irs.gov/publications/p519. If you satisfy the substantial presence test, you must notify the withholding agent, payer, or financial institution with which you have an account within 30 days and provide a Form W-9.

Expiration of Form W-8BEN.   Generally, a Form W-8BEN will remain in effect for purposes of establishing foreign status for a period starting on the date the form is signed and ending on the last day of the third succeeding calendar year, unless a change in circumstances makes any information on the form incorrect. For example, a Form W-8BEN signed on September 30, 2015, remains valid through December 31, 2018.

  However, under certain conditions a Form W-8BEN will remain in effect indefinitely until a change of circumstances occurs. To determine the period of validity for Form W-8BEN for purposes of chapter 4, see Regulations section 1.1471-3(c)(6)(ii). To determine the period of validity for Form W-8BEN for purposes of chapter 3, see Regulations section 1.1441-1(e)(4)(ii).

Definitions

Account holder.   An account holder is generally the person listed or identified as the holder or owner of a financial account. For example, if a partnership is listed as the holder or owner of a financial account, then the partnership is the account holder, rather than the partners of the partnership (subject to some exceptions). However, an account that is held by a single-member disregarded entity is treated as held by the person owning the entity.

Amounts subject to withholding.   Generally, an amount subject to chapter 3 withholding is an amount from sources within the United States that is fixed or determinable annual or periodical (FDAP) income. FDAP income is all income included in gross income, including interest (as well as OID), dividends, rents, royalties, and compensation. FDAP income does not include most gains from the sale of property (including market discount and option premiums), as well as other specific items of income described in Regulations section 1.1441-2 (such as interest on bank deposits and short-term OID).

  For purposes of section 1446, the amount subject to withholding is the foreign partner’s share of the partnership’s effectively connected taxable income.

  Generally, an amount subject to chapter 4 withholding is an amount of U.S. source FDAP income that is also a withholdable payment as defined in Regulations section 1.1473-1(a). The exemptions from withholding provided for under chapter 3 are not applicable when determining whether withholding applies under chapter 4. For specific exceptions applicable to the definition of a withholdable payment, see Regulations section 1.1473-1(a)(4) (exempting, for example, certain nonfinancial payments).

Beneficial owner.   For payments other than those for which a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding is claimed under an income tax treaty, the beneficial owner of income is generally the person who is required under U.S. tax principles to include the payment in gross income on a tax return. A person is not a beneficial owner of income, however, to the extent that person is receiving the income as a nominee, agent, or custodian, or to the extent the person is a conduit whose participation in a transaction is disregarded. In the case of amounts paid that do not constitute income, beneficial ownership is determined as if the payment were income.

  Foreign partnerships, foreign simple trusts, and foreign grantor trusts are not the beneficial owners of income paid to the partnership or trust. The beneficial owners of income paid to a foreign partnership are generally the partners in the partnership, provided that the partner is not itself a partnership, foreign simple or grantor trust, nominee or other agent. The beneficial owners of income paid to a foreign simple trust (that is, a foreign trust that is described in section 651(a)) are generally the beneficiaries of the trust, if the beneficiary is not a foreign partnership, foreign simple or grantor trust, nominee or other agent. The beneficial owners of a foreign grantor trust (that is, a foreign trust to the extent that all or a portion of the income of the trust is treated as owned by the grantor or another person under sections 671 through 679) are the persons treated as the owners of the trust. The beneficial owners of income paid to a foreign complex trust (that is, a foreign trust that is not a foreign simple trust or foreign grantor trust) is the trust itself.

  For purposes of section 1446, the same beneficial owner rules apply, except that under section 1446 a foreign simple trust rather than the beneficiary provides the form to the partnership.

  The beneficial owner of income paid to a foreign estate is the estate itself.

   Note. A payment to a U.S. partnership, U.S. trust, or U.S. estate is treated as a payment to a U.S. payee that is not subject to 30% withholding under chapter 3 or 4. A U.S. partnership, trust, or estate should provide the withholding agent with a Form W-9. For purposes of section 1446, a U.S. grantor trust or disregarded entity shall not provide the withholding agent a Form W-9 in its own right. Rather, the grantor or other owner shall provide the withholding agent the appropriate form.

Chapter 3.   Chapter 3 means Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code (Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Corporations). Chapter 3 contains sections 1441 through 1464.

Chapter 4.   Chapter 4 means Chapter 4 of the Internal Revenue Code (Taxes to Enforce Reporting on Certain Foreign Accounts). Chapter 4 contains sections 1471 through 1474.

Deemed-compliant FFI.   Under section 1471(b)(2), certain FFIs are deemed to comply with the regulations under chapter 4 without the need to enter into an FFI agreement with the IRS. However, certain deemed-compliant FFIs are required to register with the IRS and obtain a GIIN. These FFIs are referred to as registered deemed-compliant FFIs. See Regulations section 1.1471-5(f).

Disregarded entity.   A business entity that has a single owner and is not a corporation under Regulations section 301.7701-2(b) is disregarded as an entity separate from its owner. A disregarded entity does not submit this Form W-8BEN to a partnership for purposes of section 1446 or to an FFI for purposes of chapter 4. Instead, the owner of such entity provides appropriate documentation. See Regulations section 1.1446-1 and section 1.1471-3(a)(3)(v), respectively.

  Certain entities that are disregarded for U.S. tax purposes may be recognized for purposes of claiming treaty benefits under an applicable tax treaty (see the definition of hybrid entity below). A hybrid entity claiming treaty benefits is required to complete Form W-8BEN-E. See Form W-8BEN-E and its instructions.

Financial account.   A financial account includes:
  • A depository account maintained by a financial institution;

  • A custodial account maintained by a financial institution;

  • Equity or debt interests (other than interests regularly traded on an established securities market) in investment entities and certain holding companies, treasury centers, or financial institutions as defined in Regulations section 1.1471-5(e);

  • Cash value insurance contracts; and

  • Annuity contracts.

For purposes of chapter 4, exceptions are provided for accounts such as certain tax-favored savings accounts; term life insurance contracts; accounts held by estates; escrow accounts; and annuity contracts. These exceptions are subject to certain conditions. See Regulations section 1.1471-5(b)(2). Accounts may also be excluded from the definition of financial account under an applicable IGA.

Financial institution.   A financial institution generally means an entity that is a depository institution, custodial institution, investment entity, or an insurance company (or holding company of an insurance company) that issues cash value insurance or annuity contracts.

Foreign financial institution (FFI).   A foreign financial institution (FFI) generally means a foreign entity that is a financial institution.

Foreign person.   A foreign person includes a nonresident alien individual and certain foreign entities that are not U.S. persons (entities should complete Form W-8BEN-E rather than this Form W-8BEN).

Hybrid entity.    A hybrid entity is any person (other than an individual) that is treated as fiscally transparent in the United States but is not treated as fiscally transparent by a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty. Hybrid status is relevant for claiming treaty benefits.

Intergovernmental agreement (IGA).   An IGA means a Model 1 IGA or a Model 2 IGA. For a list of jurisdictions treated as having in effect a Model 1 or Model 2 IGA, see “List of Jurisdictions” available at www.irs.gov/fatca.

   A Model 1 IGA means an agreement between the United States or the Treasury Department and a foreign government or one or more agencies to implement FATCA through reporting by FFIs to such foreign government or agency thereof, followed by automatic exchange of the reported information with the IRS. An FFI in a Model 1 IGA jurisdiction that performs account reporting to the jurisdiction’s government is referred to as a reporting Model 1 FFI.

  A Model 2 IGA means an agreement or arrangement between the U.S. or the Treasury Department and a foreign government or one or more agencies to implement FATCA through reporting by FFIs directly to the IRS in accordance with the requirements of an FFI agreement, supplemented by the exchange of information between such foreign government or agency thereof and the IRS. An FFI in a Model 2 IGA jurisdiction that has entered into an FFI agreement is a participating FFI, but may be referred to as a reporting Model 2 FFI.

Nonresident alien individual.   Any individual who is not a citizen or resident alien of the United States is a nonresident alien individual. An alien individual meeting either the “green card test” or the “substantial presence test” for the calendar year is a resident alien. Any person not meeting either test is a nonresident alien individual. Additionally, an alien individual who is a resident of a foreign country under the residence article of an income tax treaty, or an alien individual who is a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or American Samoa is a nonresident alien individual. See Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more information on resident and nonresident alien status.

  
Even though a nonresident alien individual married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien may choose to be treated as a resident alien for certain purposes (for example, filing a joint income tax return), such individual is still treated as a nonresident alien for chapter 3 withholding tax purposes on all income except wages. For purposes of chapter 4, a nonresident alien individual who holds a joint account with a U.S. person will be considered a holder of a U.S. account for chapter 4 purposes.

Participating FFI.   A participating FFI is an FFI (including a Reporting Model 2 FFI) that has agreed to comply with the terms of an FFI agreement. The term participating FFI also includes a qualified intermediary (QI) branch of a U.S. financial institution, unless such branch is a reporting Model 1 FFI.

Participating payee.   A participating payee means any person that accepts a payment card as payment or accepts payment from a third party settlement organization in settlement of a third party network transaction.

Payment settlement entity (PSE).   A payment settlement entity is a merchant acquiring entity or third party settlement organization. Under section 6050W, a PSE is generally required to report payments made in settlement of payment card transactions or third party network transactions. However, a PSE is not required to report payments made to a beneficial owner that is documented as foreign with an applicable Form W-8.

Recalcitrant account holder.   A recalcitrant account holder for purposes of chapter 4 includes an individual who fails to comply with the requests of an FFI for documentation and information for determining the U.S. or foreign status of the individual’s account, including furnishing this Form W-8BEN when requested.

U.S. person.   A U.S. person is defined in section 7701(a)(30) and includes an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States.

Withholding agent.   Any person, U.S. or foreign, that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of U.S. source FDAP income subject to chapter 3 or 4 withholding is a withholding agent. The withholding agent may be an individual, corporation, partnership, trust, association, or any other entity, including (but not limited to) any foreign intermediary, foreign partnership, and U.S. branches of certain foreign banks and insurance companies.

  For purposes of section 1446, the withholding agent is the partnership conducting the trade or business in the United States. For a publicly traded partnership, the withholding agent may be the partnership, a nominee holding an interest on behalf of a foreign person, or both. See Regulations sections 1.1446-1 through 1.1446-6.


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