Office of Business Operations

Payroll | Foreign Artists and Entertainers

The UNI department hosting an international visitor, artist, scholar or performer must contact Cheryl Klahsen ( in the Office of Business Operations – Payroll, 103 Gilchrist Hall, prior to the visit.  The international visitor will be required to complete various forms and provide requested documentation in order to determine correct taxation and reporting of income.

Payments to nonresident alien (NRA) artists for personal services performed in the United States are generally considered U.S. source income.

Generally, a foreign person, whether a foreign corporation or an NRA individual, is subject to U.S. tax on U.S. source income at a tax rate of 30% on the gross payment. The University of Northern Iowa is required to withhold the 30% and remit the amount to the IRS. If a company, whether U.S. or foreign, is acting as an agent of the foreign entertainer, the withholding and reporting must be done as if the payment were made to the entertainer directly. This is because the withholding and reporting needs to reflect the beneficial owner of the income. If the performers split the payment after the profit (or loss) is determined, the performers are “participating in the profits” and are treated as individuals.  On the other hand, if the performers receive a set salary for the performance, the performers are not “participating in the profits” and the group is treated as a business for tax purposes.

One exception to the 30% withholding tax rate would be if a foreign person has entered into a central withholding agreement (CWA).  A CWA is an agreement entered into by the foreign person, a designated withholding agent, and an authorized representative of the Internal Revenue Service. If the foreign person obtains a CWA, the IRS will estimate the actual tax that the foreign person will owe on the tour or series of events, and this is the amount withheld from the foreign person's income.  CWA’s are available only to individuals, not to businesses.

Another exception to the 30% withholding tax rate would be if a foreign person is entitled to a tax treaty benefit.  An individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), employer identification number (EIN) or social security number (SSN) is required to claim tax treaty benefits.   The NRA artist may apply for an ITIN on IRS Form W-7 if he/she does not have a U.S. social security number (SSN).   A tax treaty benefit is not automatic.  The Office of Business Operations-Payroll will consider the facts of the situation and determine if a tax treaty benefit applies.