General Instructions

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

Purpose of Form

Foreign persons are generally subject to U.S. tax at a 30% rate on income they receive from U.S. sources. However, no withholding under section 1441 or 1442 is required on income that is, or is deemed to be, effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States and is includible in the beneficial owner's gross income for the tax year.

This withholding exemption does not apply to personal services income and income subject to withholding under section 1445 (dispositions of U.S. real property interests) or section 1446 (foreign partner's share of effectively connected income).

Income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States is not a withholdable payment under chapter 4 and thus is not subject to withholding under sections 1471 or 1472.

If you receive effectively connected income from sources in the United States, you must provide Form W-8ECI to:

  • Establish that you are not a U.S. person,

  • Claim that you are the beneficial owner of the income for which Form W-8ECI is being provided or are an entity engaged in a U.S. trade or business submitting Form W-8ECI on behalf of your owners or partners, and

  • Claim that the income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States.

If you expect to receive both income that is effectively connected and income that is not effectively connected from a withholding agent, you must provide Form W-8ECI for the effectively connected income and Form W-8BEN, Form W-8BEN-E, Form W-8EXP, or Form W-8IMY (as appropriate) for income that is not effectively connected.

If you submit Form W-8ECI to a partnership, the income claimed to be effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business is subject to withholding under section 1446. If a nominee holds an interest in a partnership on your behalf, you, not the nominee, must submit the form to the partnership or nominee that is the withholding agent.

If you are a foreign partnership, a foreign simple trust, or a foreign grantor trust with effectively connected income, you may submit Form W-8ECI without attaching Forms W-8BEN, W-8BEN-E, or other documentation for your foreign partners, beneficiaries, or owners.

A withholding agent or payer of the income may rely on a properly completed Form W-8ECI to treat the payment associated with the Form W-8ECI as a payment to a foreign person who beneficially owns the amounts paid and is either entitled to an exemption from withholding under sections 1441, 1442, 1471, or 1472 because the income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States or subject to withholding under section 1446.

Provide Form W-8ECI to the withholding agent or payer before income is paid, credited, or allocated to you. Failure by a beneficial owner to provide a Form W-8ECI when requested may lead to withholding at the 30% rate or the backup withholding rate under section 3406.

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-8ECI

You must give Form W-8ECI to the withholding agent or payer if you are a foreign person and you are the beneficial owner of U.S. source income that is (or is deemed to be) effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States.

Do not use Form W-8ECI if:

  • You are a nonresident alien individual who claims exemption from withholding on compensation for independent or certain 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 the beneficial owner of a payment subject to withholding and are claiming an exemption from withholding for a reason other than a claim that the income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States. For example, if you are a foreign person who is the beneficial owner of U.S. source income that is not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business and you are claiming a reduced rate of withholding under an applicable income tax treaty in effect, do not use Form W-8ECI. Instead, provide Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding (Individuals) or Form W-8BEN-E, Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities).

  • You are a foreign person receiving proceeds from the disposition of a U.S. real property interest. Instead, see Form 8288-B, Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of U.S. Real Property Interests.

  • You are filing for a foreign government, international organization, foreign central bank of issue, foreign tax-exempt organization, foreign private foundation, or government of a U.S. possession claiming the applicability of section 115(2), 501(c), 892, 895, or 1443(b). Instead, provide Form W-8EXP, Certificate of Foreign Government or Other Foreign Organization for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting. However, you should use Form W-8BEN-E if you are claiming treaty benefits or are providing the form only to claim exempt recipient status for backup withholding purposes. You should use Form W-8ECI, however, if you received effectively connected income (for example, income from commercial activities).

  • You are acting as an intermediary (that is, acting not for your own account or for that of your partners, but for the account of others as an agent, nominee, or custodian) with respect to a payment subject to withholding. 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 withholding foreign partnership or a withholding foreign trust for purposes of sections 1441 and 1442 that is receiving income which is not effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business. A withholding foreign partnership is, generally, a foreign partnership that has entered into a withholding agreement with the IRS under which it agrees to assume primary withholding responsibility for each partner's distributive share of income subject to withholding that is paid to the partnership. A withholding foreign trust is, generally, a foreign simple trust or a foreign grantor trust that has entered into a withholding agreement with the IRS under which it agrees to assume primary withholding responsibility for each beneficiary's or owner's distributive share of income subject to withholding that is paid to the trust. Instead, provide Form W-8IMY.

  • You are a foreign corporation that is a personal holding company receiving compensation described in section 543(a)(7). Such compensation is not exempt from withholding as effectively connected income, but may be exempt from withholding on another basis.

  • You are a foreign partner in a partnership and the income allocated to you from the partnership is effectively connected with the conduct of the partnership's trade or business in the United States. Instead, provide Form W-8BEN or Form W-8BEN-E (as applicable). However, if you made or will make an election under section 871(d) or 882(d), provide Form W-8ECI. In addition, if you are otherwise engaged in a trade or business in the United States and you want your allocable share of income from the partnership to be subject to withholding under section 1446, provide Form W-8ECI.

Giving Form W-8ECI to the withholding agent.   Do not send Form W-8ECI 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. Give Form W-8ECI to the person requesting it before the payment is made, credited, or allocated. If you do not provide Form W-8ECI, the withholding agent may have to withhold at the 30% rate or the backup withholding rate. A separate Form W-8ECI must be given to each withholding agent.

U.S. branch of foreign bank or insurance company.   A payment to a U.S. branch of a foreign bank or a foreign insurance company that is subject to U.S. regulation by the Federal Reserve Board or state insurance authorities is presumed to be effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States if the withholding agent has an EIN provided by the branch. The presumption does not apply if the branch provides a withholding agent with a Form W-8BEN-E for the income.

Change in circumstances.   If a change in circumstances makes any information on the Form W-8ECI you have submitted incorrect, you must notify the withholding agent or payer within 30 days of the change in circumstances and you must file a new Form W-8ECI or other appropriate form. For example, if during the tax year any part or all of the income is no longer effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States, your Form W-8ECI is no longer valid. You must notify the withholding agent and provide Form W-8BEN, W-8BEN-E, W-8EXP, or W-8IMY. See Regulations section 1.1441-1(e)(4)(ii)(D) for the definition of a change in circumstances for purposes of chapter 3. See Regulations section 1.1471-3(c)(6)(ii)(E) for the definition of a change in circumstances for purposes of chapter 4.

Expiration of Form W-8ECI.   Generally, a Form W-8ECI will remain in effect 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 (see Change in circumstances above for the requirements to provide a new form). For example, a Form W-8ECI signed on September 30, 2015, remains valid through December 31, 2018. Upon the expiration of the 3-year period, you must provide a new Form W-8ECI.

Definitions

Beneficial owner.   For payments other than those for which a reduced rate of 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 income 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.

  Generally, these beneficial owner rules apply for purposes of sections 1441, 1442, and 1446, except that section 1446 requires a foreign simple trust to provide a Form W-8 on its own behalf rather than on behalf of the beneficiary of such trust.

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

  A payment to a U.S. partnership, U.S. trust, or U.S. estate is treated as a payment to a U.S. payee. A U.S. partnership, trust, or estate should provide the withholding agent with a Form W-9. However, for purposes of section 1446, a U.S. grantor trust shall not provide the withholding agent a Form W-9. Instead, the grantor or other owner must provide Form W-8 or Form W-9 as appropriate.

  

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.

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 Form W-8ECI to a partnership for purposes of section 1446. Instead, the owner of such entity provides the appropriate documentation. See Regulations section 1.1446-1.

Effectively connected income.   Generally, when a foreign person engages in a trade or business in the United States, all income from sources in the United States other than fixed or determinable annual or periodical (FDAP) income (for example, interest, dividends, rents, and certain similar amounts) is considered income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. FDAP income may or may not be effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. Factors to be considered to determine whether FDAP income and similar amounts from U.S. sources are effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business include whether:
  • The income is from assets used in, or held for use in, the conduct of that trade or business, or

  • The activities of that trade or business were a material factor in the realization of the income.

  There are special rules for determining whether income from securities is effectively connected with the active conduct of a U.S. banking, financing, or similar business. See section 864(c)(4)(B)(ii) and Regulations section 1.864-4(c)(5)(ii) for more information.

  Effectively connected income, after allowable deductions, is taxed at graduated rates applicable to U.S. persons and resident aliens, rather than at the 30% rate. You must report this income on your annual U.S. income tax or information return.

  A partnership that has effectively connected income allocable to foreign partners is generally required to withhold tax under section 1446. The withholding tax rate on a partner's share of effectively connected income is 35% for corporate partners and 39.6% for all other taxable partners. In certain circumstances the partnership may withhold tax at the highest applicable rate to a particular type of income (for example, long-term capital gain allocated to a noncorporate partner). Any amount withheld under section 1446 on your behalf, and reflected on Form 8805 issued by the partnership to you may be credited on your U.S. income tax return.

Foreign person.   A foreign person includes a nonresident alien individual, a foreign corporation, a foreign partnership, a foreign trust, a foreign estate, and any other person that is not a U.S. person.

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.

  
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 withholding tax purposes on all income except wages.

  See Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more information on resident and nonresident alien status including information about the “green card test” and “substantial presence test”.

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 withholding is a withholding agent. For purposes of chapter 4, any person, U.S. or foreign, that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of a withholdable payment 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 treated as U.S. person. Generally, the person who pays (or causes to be paid) an amount subject to withholding to the foreign person (or to its agent) must withhold.

  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.

Withholdable payment.   A withholdable payment means any payment of U.S. source FDAP income, subject to certain exemptions described in Regulations sections 1.1471-2(b) and 1.1473-1(a). However, no exceptions to withholding on U.S. source FDAP income for purposes other than chapter 4 apply when determining whether a payment is a withholdable payment. For example, an exclusion from an amount subject to withholding under Regulations section 1.1441-2(a) does not apply for purposes of determining whether a payment constitutes a withholdable payment. Under chapter 4, a payment of effectively connected income is not a withholdable payment.

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, as well as domestic partnerships, corporations, trusts, and estates.


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