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Publication 519

Withholding From Compensation(p39)

The following discussion generally applies only to nonresident aliens. Tax is withheld from resident aliens in the same manner as U.S. citizens.
Wages and other compensation paid to a nonresident alien for services performed as an employee are usually subject to graduated withholding at the same rates as resident aliens and U.S. citizens. Therefore, your compensation, unless it is specifically excluded from the term "wages" by law, or is exempt from tax by treaty, is subject to graduated withholding.

Withholding on Wages(p39)

If you are an employee and you receive wages subject to graduated withholding, you will be required to fill out a Form W-4. Also fill out Form W-4 for a scholarship or fellowship grant to the extent it represents payment for past, present, or future services and for which you are not claiming a tax treaty withholding exemption on Form 8233 (discussed later under Income Entitled to Tax Treaty Benefits). These are services you are required to perform as an employee and as a condition of receiving the scholarship or fellowship (or tuition reduction).
Nonresident aliens should fill out Form W-4 using the following instructions instead of the instructions on the Form W-4. This is because of the restrictions on a nonresident alien's filing status, the limited number of personal exemptions a nonresident alien is allowed, and because a nonresident alien cannot claim the standard deduction.
  1. Enter your social security number (SSN) on line 2. Do not enter an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
  2. Check only "Single" marital status on line 3 (regardless of your actual marital status).
  3. Claim only one allowance on line 5, unless you are a resident of Canada, Mexico, or South Korea, or a U.S. national.
  4. Write "Nonresident Alien" or "NRA" on the dotted line on line 6. You can request additional withholding on line 6 at your option.
  5. Do not claim "Exempt" withholding status on line 7.
A U.S. national is an individual who, although not a U.S. citizen, owes his or her allegiance to the United States. U.S. nationals include American Samoans, and Northern Mariana Islanders who chose to become U.S. nationals instead of U.S. citizens.
See Withholding on Scholarships and Fellowship Grants, later, for how to fill out Form W-4 if you receive a U.S. source scholarship or fellowship grant that is not a payment for services.

New withholding tables.(p40)

To reflect changes made by the tax reform legislation, the IRS has released updated income tax withholding tables. The new withholding tables are designed to work with the Form(s) W-4 you have already filed with your employer. To see if you need to have your withholding increased or decreased, use the IRS Withholding Calculator at The calculator is being revised to take into account these changes and should be available by the end of February.

Students and business apprentices from India.(p40)

If you are eligible for the benefits of Article 21(2) of the United States–India Income Tax Treaty, you may claim an additional withholding allowance for the standard deduction. You can claim an additional withholding allowance for your spouse only if your spouse will have no gross income for 2017 and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another U.S. taxpayer's 2017 return. You may also claim an additional withholding allowance for each of your dependents not admitted to the United States on "F-2," "J-2," or "M-2" visas if they meet the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens.

Household employees.(p40)

If you work as a household employee, your employer does not have to withhold income tax. However, you may agree to voluntary income tax withholding by filing a Form W-4 with your employer. The agreement goes into effect when your employer accepts the agreement by beginning the withholding. You or your employer may end the agreement by letting the other know in writing.

Agricultural workers. (p40)

If you are an agricultural worker on an H-2A visa, your employer does not have to withhold income tax. However, your employer will withhold income tax only if you and your employer agree to withhold. In that case, you must provide your employer with a properly completed Form W-4. You can find more information about not having tax withheld at

Wages Exempt From Withholding(p40)

Wages that are exempt from U.S. income tax under an income tax treaty are generally exempt from withholding. For information on how to claim this exemption from withholding, see Income Entitled to Tax Treaty Benefits, later.
Wages paid to aliens who are residents of American Samoa, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands may be exempt from withholding. The following paragraphs explain these exemptions.

Residents of Canada or Mexico engaged in transportation-related employment.(p40)

Certain residents of Canada or Mexico who enter or leave the United States at frequent intervals are not subject to withholding on their wages. These persons either:
This employment is subject to withholding of social security and Medicare taxes unless the services are performed for a railroad.
To qualify for the exemption from withholding during a tax year, a Canadian or Mexican resident must give the employer a statement in duplicate with name, address, and identification number, certifying that the resident:
The statement can be in any form, but it must be dated and signed by the employee and must include a written declaration that it is made under penalties of perjury.

Residents of American Samoa and Puerto Rico.(p40)

If you are a nonresident alien employee who is a resident of American Samoa or Puerto Rico, wages for services performed in American Samoa or Puerto Rico are generally not subject to withholding unless you are an employee of the United States or any of its agencies in American Samoa or Puerto Rico.

Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands.(p40)

Nonresident aliens who are bona fide residents of the U.S Virgin Islands are not subject to withholding of U.S. tax on income earned while temporarily employed in the United States. This is because those persons pay their income tax to the U.S. Virgin Islands. To avoid having tax withheld on income earned in the United States, bona fide residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands should write a letter, in duplicate, to their employers, stating that they are bona fide residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and expect to pay tax on all income to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Withholding on Pensions(p40)

If you receive a pension as a result of personal services performed in the United States, the pension income is subject to the 30% (or lower treaty) rate of withholding. You may, however, have tax withheld at graduated rates on the portion of the pension that arises from the performance of services in the United States after December 31, 1986. You must fill out Form W-8BEN and give it to the withholding agent or payer before the income is paid or credited to you.

Withholding on Tip Income(p40)

Tips you receive during the year for services performed in the United States are subject to U.S. income tax. Include them in taxable income. In addition, tips received while working for one employer, amounting to $20 or more in a month, are subject to graduated withholding.

Independent Contractors(p40)

If there is no employee–employer relationship between you and the person for whom you perform services, your compensation is subject to the 30% (or lower treaty) rate of withholding. However, if you are engaged in a trade or business in the United States during the tax year, your compensation for personal services as an independent contractor (independent personal services) may be entirely or partly exempt from withholding if you reach an agreement with the IRS on the amount of withholding required. An agreement that you reach with the IRS regarding withholding from your compensation for independent personal services is effective for payments covered by the agreement after it is agreed to by all parties. You must agree to timely file an income tax return for the current tax year.

Central withholding agreements (CWA).(p40)

If you are a nonresident alien entertainer or athlete performing or participating in athletic events in the United States, you may be able to enter into a withholding agreement with the IRS for reduced withholding provided certain requirements are met. Under no circumstances will such a withholding agreement reduce taxes withheld to less than the anticipated amount of income tax liability.
File Form 13930 and the required attachments with the IRS to request a central withholding agreement. Either you or your authorized representative can file the form. It should be sent to the IRS at least 45 days before the tour begins or the event occurs. Exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis.
For more information on the CWA program, go to

Final payment exemption.(p40)

Your final payment of compensation during the tax year for independent personal services may be entirely or partly exempt from withholding. This exemption is available only once during your tax year and applies to a maximum of $5,000 of compensation. To obtain this exemption, you or your agent must give the following statements and information to the Commissioner or his delegate.
If satisfied with the information, the IRS will determine the amount of your tentative income tax for the tax year on gross income effectively connected with your trade or business in the United States. Ordinary and necessary business expenses can be taken into account if proven to the satisfaction of the Commissioner or his delegate.
The Commissioner or his delegate will send you a letter, directed to the withholding agent, showing the amount of the final payment of compensation that is exempt from withholding and the amount that can be paid to you because of the exemption. You must give two copies of the letter to the withholding agent and must also attach a copy of the letter to your income tax return for the tax year for which the exemption is effective.

Refund of Taxes Withheld in Error(p41)


Multilevel marketing.(p41)

If you are a distributor for a multilevel marketing company who had taxes withheld in error, file a U.S. income tax return (Form 1040NR, Form 1040NR-EZ, or Form 1120-F) or, if a tax return has already been filed, a claim for refund (Form 1040X or amended Form 1120-F) to recover the amount withheld in error. You must also attach to the U.S. income tax return or claim for refund supporting information that includes, but is not limited to, the following items.

Refund of taxes withheld in error on social security benefits paid to resident aliens.(p41)

Social security benefits paid to a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) are not subject to 30% withholding. For U.S. income tax purposes, green card holders continue to be resident aliens until their lawful permanent resident status under immigration laws is either taken away or is administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned. See Green Card Test in chapter 1. If you are a green card holder and tax was withheld in error on your social security benefits because you have a foreign address, the withholding tax is refundable by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the IRS. The SSA will refund taxes erroneously withheld if the refund can be processed during the same calendar year in which the tax was withheld. If the SSA cannot refund the taxes withheld, you must file a Form 1040 or 1040A with the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Austin, TX 73301 to determine if you are entitled to a refund. You must also attach the following to your Form 1040 or 1040A.