U.S. Taxation of Foreign Persons: General Overview

Unlike U.S. citizens, U.S. resident aliens and domestic corporation which are taxed under the Internal Revenue Code on their worldwide income, the IRS applies a special tax regime to foreign persons. The general rule (subject to numerous exceptions) is that foreign persons are only taxed on their U.S.-source income of specified types and income effectively connected (or treated as “effectively connected”) with a trade or business conducted by such foreign persons within the United States.

For example, generally, capital gains which are not effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business are not subject to U.S. income tax. Be careful, though, because even this seemingly simple rule contains conceptions. The most common exception can be found in IRC Section 871(a)(2). Pursuant to this provision, net capital gains from U.S. sources are taxable to nonresident alien individuals who are present in the United States for 183 days or more during a taxable year even if the gains are not effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business.

One can distinguish three main categories of income which is relevant to determining the taxation of foreign persons – effectively connected income, fixed and determinable annual or periodical income, and U.S. source capital gains. Each of these three categories follows specified rules and contains numerous exceptions. Moreover, often, these provisions have to be coordinated with the other provisions in the IRC.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to Understand Your U.S. Tax Liability

The taxation of foreign persons is a very complex tax question, and this article only attempts to provide a very general background information that should not be relied upon in making the determination of your U.S. tax liability. Rather, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help with this issue. Our experienced tax firm will guide you through the complex web of rules concerning U.S. taxation of foreign persons, and help you determine your U.S. tax liability.