New FATCA FAQ – Application of the Preexisting Obligation Election to Intermediaries and Flow-through Entities
Posted by William Byrnes on August 8, 2014
Question: Notice 2014-33, 2014-21 I.R.B. 1033, provides that a withholding agent or FFI may treat an obligation as a preexisting obligation if the obligation (i) is issued, opened, or executed on or after July 1, 2014, and before January 1, 2015, and (ii) is held by an entity. How does this provision of Notice 2014-33 apply when the recipient of a payment made under the obligation is a flow-through entity or intermediary?
Answer: A withholding agent may treat an obligation held by an entity (including an entity acting as an intermediary with respect to the obligation or a flow-through entity) as a preexisting obligation to the extent permitted in Notice 2014-33. Therefore, an obligation held by an intermediary or flow-through entity is treated as a preexisting obligation if it is issued, opened, or executed before January 1, 2015. In such a case, the withholding agent may rely on a pre-FATCA Form W-8 to document the holder of the obligation throughout 2014. If the flow-through entity or intermediary provides the withholding agent with a withholding statement allocating a portion of a payment to a chapter 4 withholding pool of recalcitrant account holders or NPFFIs (or payee-specific information for such persons), then the withholding agent is required to apply chapter 4 withholding to the portion of the payment allocated to each such pool of payees (or each such payee), even though it is not yet required to document the chapter 4 status of the flow-through entity or intermediary. However, a withholding agent must determine the chapter 4 status of a flow-through entity or intermediary as a PFFI or RDCFFI when provided with a withholding statement allocating a portion of a payment to a chapter 4 withholding rate pool of U.S. payees that the withholding agent reports on Form 1042-S as made to the pool rather than requiring payee-specific documentation for each payee in the pool or withholding and reporting in accordance with the applicable presumption rules.
If the withholding agent receives documentation from a flow-through entity with respect to an interest holder in the entity or from an intermediary with respect to its account holder and confirms (in writing) that the intermediary or flow-through entity treats the obligation as a preexisting obligation (including under Notice 2014-33, if applicable), the withholding agent may treat the obligation as a preexisting obligation provided that the withholding agent does not have documentation showing the interest holder or account holder to be an NPFFI. The preceding sentence would apply, for example, to documentation provided with respect to a passive NFFE that is an account holder in an intermediary and that does not provide the information or certification described in Treas. Reg. § 1.1471-3(d)(12)(iii) with respect to its owners.
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