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Frequently Asked Questions about 4% Withholding

Frequently asked questions about the 4% withholding on nonresident personal services can be found below.

The term “personal services” is not defined. However, income is generally derived in two ways: selling a product or providing a service. “Personal services” compensation is any compensation paid for providing a service. For purposes of the 4% withholding, the personal services subject to withholding are limited to personal services in connection with a performance, an entertainment or athletic event, a speech, or the creation of a film, radio, or television program.

Any speech that amuses, entertains, or informs is subject to the withholding requirement. This includes instructors at seminars that are open to the public for an admission fee or are for continuing education.

The term “foreign” means a limited liability company, partnership, or corporation formed under the laws of any jurisdiction other than North Carolina.

Corporations and limited liability companies that receive a Certificate of Authority from the Secretary of State are also issued an identification number. This number is different than the business’s federal employer identification number. The payer should request that the contractor provide the identification number issued by the Secretary of State and maintain that number in its records. For partnerships, the venue should request that the partnership provide its federal identification number and its North Carolina address and maintain that information in its records.

The payer should obtain from the contractor a copy of the contractor’s federal determination letter of tax exemption or a letter of tax exemption from the Department of Revenue and maintain that information in its records.

The payer should obtain the individual’s North Carolina address and social security number and maintain that information in its records.

No. The only exceptions to withholding are those identified in the Exceptions to Withholding section of Directive PD-98-3. A contractor that qualifies for one of the exceptions to withholding is still subject to North Carolina income tax on the compensation received for services performed in North Carolina and must file the appropriate North Carolina income tax return to report the compensation.

No. Any excess withholding will be refunded upon the filing of an income tax return showing an overpayment of tax.

Pursuant to Treasury Regulation § 1.274-5T(h), the payment of business expenses through a reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangement is excludable from income by a contractor if the expenses are substantiated to the payer by the contractor under an accountable plan. “Business expenses” means ordinary and necessary expenses for travel, transportation, and entertainment that are deductible under Internal Revenue Code section 162. To be properly substantiated under an accountable plan, the reimbursement must be paid only if receipts are furnished to substantiate the expenses or the expenses are allowed under an acceptable per diem arrangement. Those reimbursed or direct-billed business expenses that are not taxable pursuant to the above-cited regulation because they have been properly substantiated are not subject to the 4% withholding.

No, to the extent the expenses qualify as business expenses under Code section 162.

Yes, if the contract laborer is a nonresident and the compensation exceeds $1,500. The definition of contractor includes compensation for personal services in connection with a performance, etc. Services performed by the contract laborer at the souvenir sales operation are in connection with the event.

No withholding is required in 2007 because the compensation for performing services in North Carolina was not paid during that year. Amounts held in escrow are not considered to be received until released from escrow. The venue must withhold $400 ($10,000 X 4%) in 2008 when the services are performed and the compensation is paid.

The answer depends on whether the promoter is an entity or an individual. If the promoter is an entity, tax must be withheld because the entity is deemed to be doing business in North Carolina through its agent (the entertainer). If the promoter is an individual, tax is only required to be withheld from the payment to the promoter to the extent the promoter performed services in North Carolina.

The promoter is responsible to withhold from the compensation paid to the entertainer because the entertainer is providing a personal service for the promoter.

The Department of Revenue has no objection to a venue satisfying a promoter’s withholding responsibility if the venue is willing to accept that responsibility. However, the promoter is the entity required by law to withhold the tax and could be pursued by the Department of Revenue for collection if the tax is not withheld or is withheld but not remitted to the Department by the venue. A contractual provision between the promoter and venue shifting the responsibility to the venue is not binding on the Department since the Department is not a party to the contract.

No withholding is required from the ticket proceeds paid to the promoter because the promoter is not providing a personal service for the venue. The promoter is required to withhold from the compensation paid to the entertainer because the entertainer is providing a personal service in North Carolina for the promoter.