FIRPTA, or the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, is part of the United States continued efforts to tax all income/gain connected to the United States. Real estate agents, escrow agents, and buyers should be aware of FIRPTA because it mandates income tax withholding and paying over to the IRS 15% of the sales price on the purchase of a U.S. real property interest from a foreign person under certain circumstances. 26 U.S.C. § 1445. In other words, buyers may not be able to pay all of the purchase price to the seller—some may have to be paid to the IRS. This can include situations where a foreign person (or entity) sells, exchanges, liquidates, redeems, gifts, or transfers in any other way a real property interest. The obligation is imposed on a buyer as well as a buyer’s agent and/or settlement/escrow officer.
We are here to help foreign investors, who make investments in U.S. real property, navigate the traps for the unwary with the following services