Important Updates to Tax and Visa Process for Guest Artists! (9/30/2008)
Clarification on Accountable Plan Rules!
Washington, D.C. - The League has recently obtained important clarification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding expense payments for foreign guest artists. As you likely know, published and verbal guidance from the IRS has been confusing and contradictory on the question of whether expense reimbursements and payments made to third parties on behalf of foreign artists are subject to withholding. Previous guidance from the IRS - including guidance provided during League-hosted webinars and sessions this past summer - has indicated that these payments are subject to withholding. The newest word from the IRS, however, indicates otherwise.
The most recent verbal guidance from the IRS, as well as the IRS’s written guidance, indicates that the "accountable plan rules" are applicable to nonresident aliens working as independent contractors in the United States. In effect, an expense reimbursement made to a foreign artist in accordance with these rules is not reportable as income – and is not subject to 30% withholding. The accountable plan rules also apply to expenses paid to third parties on the artist’s behalf (e.g., hotel accommodations and/or travel paid for or provided by a presenter). Learn more about the rules - and exceptions - in our updated guidance regarding payments subject to withholding on the Artists from Abroad web site.
Tax FAQ Now Online
Answers to your most frequently asked questions regarding the tax requirements for foreign guests artists are now available online. Thanks to all orchestras and artists managers that offered up their questions, and the expert assistance provided by Artists from Abroad author and attorney Robyn Guilliams, the tax FAQ posted on the Artists from Abroad web site provides an overview of the most common inquiries regarding withholding requirements, tax returns, and identification numbers for foreign guest artists.
View the FAQ
File Visa Petitions Early!
Avoid potential performance-threatening delays! Remember to file visa petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as early as possible. Submitting a visa petition for an artist several months in advance of a performance substantially increases the odds of success. USCIS has announced that the Vermont and California centers that process petitions are still recovering from a larger than normal influx of overall visa requests received in the summer, resulting in unpredicable and sometimes lengthy procesing. If your orchestra encounters difficulty completing the visa process, please contact the League's Washington, D.C. office for assistance.
Brush Up on Visa Basics