Nonresident alien (NRA) athletes and entertainers performing independent personal services or participating in the U.S. and embassy and consulate employees in the U.S. can expect more enforcement and litigation, an IRS official said May 12.
Speaking at the American Bar Association Tax Section meeting in Washington, Lindsey D. Stellwagen, Special Counsel International, Office of Chief Counsel said that although there had been a lot of publicity on IRS measures to enforce compliance on U.S. persons with offshore wealth, her agency is also stepping up enforcement of NRAs and resident aliens (e.g. green card holders) that owe U.S. tax. She discussed the IRS programs pertaining to athletes and entertainers and the embassy project.
Foreign athletes and entertainers may pose a challenge to IRS enforcement because they come into the U.S. for a brief period of time, earn a lot of money, then leave. Such persons may be able to evade paying tax on their U.S.-source income and enforcement may be futile if they money earned has exited the U.S. without the imposition of withholding at source.
Nonresident alien entertainers or athletes performing independent personal services or participating in athletic events in the U.S. are generally subject to a 30 percent withholding on gross income. Stellwagen explained that under the central withholding agreement (CWA) program, such persons may be subject to reduced withholding provided that certain requirements are satisfied. The agreement is entered into by the NRA athlete or entertainer, a withholding agent and the IRS and is valid for a specific tour or series of events. Withholding is based upon the budget provided and estimated net profits.
CPA Global Tax & Accounting PLLC can assist athletes and entertainers with the CWA program and work with the IRS to minimize the exposures.