On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015” which included amongst other items, changes in the Foreign Investors in Real Property tax Act or FIRPTA. These changes in FIRPTA are effective from 16 February 2016 and onward. Thus the act affects property that Close on or after this date. The Act increases the FIRPTA withholding rate from 10 percent to 15 percent.
Note that the Buyer is technically the withholding agent. For more information on FIRPTA you should contact an attorney or an accounting firm specializing in transactions.
The current version of the FAR BAR as is which has the OLD 10% requirement…
V. FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN REAL PROPERTY TAX ACT (“FIRPTA”): If a seller of U.S. real property is a “foreign person” as defined by FIRPTA, Section 1445 of the Internal Revenue Code requires the buyer of the real property to withhold 10% of the amount realized by the seller on the transfer and remit the withheld amount to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unless an exemption to the required withholding applies or the seller has obtained
a Withholding Certificate from the IRS authorizing a reduced amount of withholding. Due to the complexity and potential risks of FIRPTA, Buyer and Seller should seek legal and tax advice regarding compliance, particularly if an “exemption” is claimed on the sale of residential property for $300,000 or less.
(i) No withholding is required under Section 1445 if the Seller is not a “foreign person,” provided Buyer accepts proof of same from Seller, which may include Buyer’s receipt of certification of non-foreign status from Seller, signed under penalties of perjury, stating that Seller is not a foreign person and containing Seller’s name, U.S. taxpayer identification number and home address (or office address, in the case of an entity), as provided for in
26 CFR 1.1445-2(b). Otherwise, Buyer shall withhold 10% of the amount realized by Seller on the transfer and timely remit said funds to the IRS.
(ii) .If Seller has received a Withholding Certificate from the IRS which provides for reduced or eliminated withholding in this transaction and provides same to Buyer by Closing, then Buyer shall withhold the reduced sum, if any required, and timely remit said funds to the IRS.
(iii) If prior to Closing Seller has submitted a completed application to the IRS for a Withholding Certificate and has provided to Buyer the notice required by 26 CFR 1.1445-1(c) (2)(i)(B) but no Withholding Certificate has been received as of Closing, Buyer shall, at Closing, withhold 10% of the amount realized by Seller on the transfer and, at Buyer’s option, either (a) timely remit the withheld funds to the IRS or (b) place the funds in escrow, at
Seller’s expense, with an escrow agent selected by Buyer and pursuant to terms negotiated by the parties, to be subsequently disbursed in accordance with the Withholding Certificate issued by the IRS or remitted directly to the IRS if the Seller’s application is rejected or upon terms set forth in the escrow agreement.
(iv) In the event the net proceeds due Seller are not sufficient to meet the withholding requirement(s) in this transaction, Seller shall deliver to Buyer, at Closing, the additional COLLECTED funds necessary to satisfy the applicable requirement and thereafter Buyer shall timely remit said funds to the IRS or escrow the funds for disbursement in accordance with the final determination of the IRS, as applicable.
(v) Upon remitting funds to the IRS pursuant to this STANDARD, Buyer shall provide Seller copies of IRS Forms 8288 and 8288-A, as filed.