Friday, September 14, 2018

Helpful Hints

If you are buying a property, one thing you'll want to be aware of is the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA). This IRS income tax withholding applies when a non-citizen of the United States sells or transfers real property in the U.S. or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The transferee of the property must withhold an amount realized by the foreign person on the transfer, generally 15%. If you are using a title company to close your real estate transaction, they will usually ask the seller to confirm that they are a U.S. citizen, and withhold the amount required if they are not.

However, the stakes are pretty big if this step is missed, so it's helpful for buyers to know that FIRPTA exists and verify that this has been done. If the withholding is not done and the IRA cannot recover it from the seller, they can come after the BUYER for payment. There are exceptions, of course, but if they don't apply the price tag can be big. On a property costing $500,000, this figure could be $75,000!

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