This section explains how to determine if a payment is subject to NRA withholding.
A payment is subject to NRA withholding if it is from sources within the United States, and it is either:
- Fixed or determinable annual or periodical (FDAP) income, or
- Certain gains from the disposition of timber, coal, and iron ore, or from the sale or exchange of patents, copyrights, and similar
In addition, a payment is subject to NRA withholding if withholding is specifically required, even though it may not constitute U.S. source income
or FDAP income. For example, corporate distributions may be subject to NRA withholding even though a portion of the distribution may be a return of
capital or capital gain not otherwise subject to NRA withholding.
Amounts not subject to NRA withholding.
The following amounts are not subject to NRA withholding.
- Portfolio interest on bearer obligations or foreign-targeted registered obligations if those obligations meet certain requirements. See
- Bank deposit interest that is not effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business. See Interest, later.
- Original issue discount on obligations payable 183 days or less from the date of original issue. See Original issue discount,
- Nonbusiness gambling income of a nonresident alien playing blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, or big-6 wheel in the United States. See
Gambling winnings, under Other Income, later.
- Amounts paid as part of the purchase price of an obligation sold between interest payment dates. See Interest, later.
- Original issue discount paid on the sale of an obligation other than a redemption. See Original issue discount,
- Insurance premiums paid on a contract issued by a foreign insurer.
Source of Income
Generally, income is from U.S. sources if it is paid by domestic corporations, U.S. citizens or resident aliens, or entities formed under the laws
of the United States or a state. Income is also from U.S. sources if the property that produces the income is located in the United States or the
services for which the income is paid were performed in the United States. A payment is treated as being from sources within the United States if the
source of the payment cannot be determined at the time of payment, such as fees for personal services paid before the services have been performed. In
this situation, you are required to withhold the amount necessary to assure that the tax withheld will not be less than 30% of U.S. source income. Or,
you may make a reasonable estimate of the amount from U.S. sources and put a corresponding portion of the amount due in escrow until the amount from
U.S. sources can be determined, at which time withholding becomes due. Other source rules are summarized in Chart B and explained in detail
in the separate discussions under Withholding on Specific Income, later.
Personal service income.
If the income is for personal services performed in the United States, it is from U.S. sources. The place where the services are performed
determines the source of the income, regardless of where the contract was made, the place of payment, or the residence of the payer.
However, under certain circumstances, payment for personal services performed in the United States is not considered income from sources within the
United States. For information on this exception, see the discussion, Pay for dependent personal services under Pay for Personal
Services Performed, later.
If the income is for personal services performed partly in the United States and partly outside the United States, you must make an accurate
allocation of income for services performed in the United States. In most cases, you make this allocation on a time basis. That is, U.S. source income
is the amount that results from multiplying the total amount of pay by the following fraction:
Jean Blanc, a citizen and resident of Canada, is employed as a professional hockey player by a U.S. hockey club. Under Jean's contract, he received
$150,000 for 242 days of play during the year. This includes days spent at pre-season training camp, days during the regular season, and playoff game
days. Of the 242 days, 194 days were spent performing services in the United States and 48 days performing services in Canada. The amount of U.S.
source income is $120,248 ((194 × 242) × $150,000).
Wages received for services rendered inside the territorial limits of the United States and wages of an alien seaman earned on a voyage along the
coast of the United States are regarded as from sources in the United States. Wages or salaries for personal services performed in a mine or on an oil
or gas well located or being developed on the continental shelf of the United States are treated as from sources in the United States.
Income from the performance of services directly related to the use of a vessel or aircraft is treated as derived entirely from sources in the
United States if the use begins and ends in the United States. This income is subject to NRA withholding if it is not effectively connected with a
U.S. trade or business. If the use either begins or ends in the United States, see Transportation income under Other Income,
Income from the performance of services by a nonresident alien in connection with the individual's temporary presence in the United States as a
regular member of the crew of a foreign vessel engaged in transportation between the United States and a foreign country or a U.S. possession is not
income from U.S. sources.
Scholarships, fellowships, and grants.
Scholarships, fellowships, and grants are sourced according to the residence of the payer. Those made by entities created or domiciled in the
United States are generally treated as income from sources within the United States. However, see Activities outside the United States,
next. Those made by entities created or domiciled in a foreign country are treated as income from foreign sources.
Activities outside the United States.
A scholarship, fellowship, grant, targeted grant, or an achievement award received by a nonresident alien for activities conducted outside the
United States is treated as foreign source income.
The source of pension payments is determined by the portion of the distribution that constitutes the compensation element (employer contributions)
and the portion that constitutes the earnings element (the investment income).
The compensation element is sourced the same as compensation from the performance of personal services. The portion attributable to services
performed in the United States is U.S. source income, and the portion attributable to services performed outside the United States is foreign source
The earnings portion of a pension payment is U.S. source income if the trust is a U.S. trust.
Fixed or Determinable Annual or Periodical
FDAP income is all income except:
- Gains from the sale of real or personal property (including market discount and option premiums but not including original issue discount),
- Items of income excluded from gross income without regard to U.S. or foreign status of the owner of the income, such as tax-exempt municipal
bond interest and qualified scholarship income.
The following items are examples of FDAP income.
- Compensation for personal services.
- Original issue discount.
- Pensions and annuities.
- Real property income, such as rents, other than gains from the sale of real property.
- Scholarships and fellowship grants.
- Other grants, prizes and awards.
- A sales commission paid or credited monthly.
- A commission paid for a single transaction.
- The distributable net income of an estate or trust that is FDAP income and that must be distributed currently, or has been paid or credited
during the tax year, to a nonresident alien beneficiary.
- A distribution from a partnership that is FDAP income, or such an amount that, although not actually distributed, is includible in the gross
income of a foreign partner.
- Taxes, mortgage interest, or insurance premiums paid to or for the account of, a nonresident alien landlord by a tenant under the terms of a
- Prizes awarded to nonresident alien artists for pictures exhibited in the United States.
- Purses paid to nonresident alien boxers for prize fights in the United States.
- Prizes awarded to nonresident alien professional golfers in golfing tournaments in the United States.
Income can be FDAP income whether it is paid in a series of repeated payments or in a single lump sum. For example, $5,000 in royalty income would
be FDAP income whether paid in 10 payments of $500 each or in one payment of $5,000.
Income derived by an insured nonresident alien from U.S. sources upon the surrender of, or at the maturity of, a life insurance policy, is FDAP
income and is subject to NRA withholding. The proceeds are income to the extent they exceed the cost of the policy.
However, certain payments received under a life insurance contract on the life of a terminally or chronically ill individual before death
(accelerated death benefits) may not be subject to tax. This also applies to certain payments received for the sale or assignment of any portion of
the death benefit under contract to a viatical settlement provider. See Publication 525,
Taxable and Nontaxable Income, for more
Racing purses are FDAP income and racetrack operators must withhold 30% on any purse paid to a nonresident alien racehorse owner in the absence of
definite information contained in a statement filed together with a Form W-8BEN that the owner has not raced, or does not intend to enter, a
horse in another race in the United States during the tax year. If available information indicates that the racehorse owner has raced a horse in
another race in the United States during the tax year, then the statement and Form W-8BEN filed for that year are ineffective. The owner may be
exempt from withholding of tax at 30% on the purses if the owner gives you Form W-8ECI, which provides that the income is effectively connected with
the conduct of a U.S. trade or business and that the income is includible in the owner's gross income.
Covenant not to compete.
Payment received for a promise not to compete is FDAP income. Its source is the place where the promisor forfeited his or her right to act. Amounts
paid to a nonresident alien for his or her promise not to compete in the United States are subject to NRA withholding.
A fee paid to a professional athlete, such as a soccer or hockey player for "signing on" with the effect of preventing any other team from
negotiating with the player and preventing the player from negotiating with any other team is pay for a covenant not to compete. The source is the
place where the right to play is given up. If a league is made up of both foreign and U.S. teams, the fee is from sources partly in and partly outside
the United States. The part of the fee that is from U.S. sources is subject to NRA withholding. If there is no reasonable basis for an allocation of
the fee, the entire sign-on fee is income from the United States and is subject to NRA withholding.